Born from the pen of René Goscinny and from the pencil of Albert uderzo back in 1959 for the magazine Pilote and then published in over a hundred countries, the mustachioed Asterix is not new to our favorite medium: the first video game focused on his adventures dates back to 1983 and since then the license has been transposed on several occasions, paying homage comics, cartoons and films in flesh and blood with titles too often very mediocre. The announcement of a 2D scrolling fighting game had intrigued us: it is a poorly represented genre, which is only recently making a comeback thanks to the excellent performances of titles like Streets of Rage 4, but always damn fun, especially if played in company .
This recensione di Asterix & Obelix: Slap Them All!, therefore, he will explain to you why we were hugely disappointed.
The idea of beating up Roman legionaries as Asterix and his inseparable friend Obelix always has something perversely tantalizing, so it’s not like it needed an intricate plot to motivate the inevitable button mashing. However, developer Mr. Nuntz Studio had promised a more original approach than usual: Asterix & Obelix: Slap Them All! where you go transpose the most famous comic volumes, transforming them into sliding stages in which to beat hordes of centurions, bandits and pirates.
Asterix & Obelix Slap Them All – Limited Edition – Limited – Playstation 4
The game published by Microids he does, but he dedicates just a few illustrations to the original comic strips between one stage and another, citing some practically decontextualized dialogue that only serves to justify the next level of play. None of these dialogues are dubbed – although the characters of Asterix and Obelix say a few phrases during the fights – except for the narrator who introduces the various Acts into which the main campaign is divided, in turn divided into various stages.
So the presentation is really poor: the intermission skits introduce lots of characters like Panoramix, Falbalà, Abraracourcix and so on, but these have just a line or two and then disappear completely. On balance, it is not clear how these stories begin and end, which often pass through game scenarios that did not even appear in the original books. Obviously this trick serves to extend the duration of the game, which is quite long-lived on its own: there are dozens of stages, some even quite long, and if you run into a Game Over you have to start the level all over again, as there are no intermediate checkpoints.
The campaign is the only game mode available at the beginning of the game: once completed, it remains only to play the individual stages to improve your own score, perhaps choosing a higher difficulty among the various selectable ones. The problem is that the experience is enormously repetitive, both for the structure of the stages and the little variety of enemies, and for the all too classic nature of the gameplay.
How to lead the Romans
Mr. Nuntz Studio certainly did not promise an innovative or revolutionary combat system, and indeed from the beginning there was talk of an extremely traditional scrolling fighting game, but the press release mentions “a wide range of moves and combinations unique to each character” that we honestly couldn’t find. Asterix and Obelix have a single combo each, which can be chained to special attacks: the latter are performed by pressing the appropriate button together with a direction, but they all look alike and do not differentiate the two Gauls so much. Asterix can become a top and hit all surrounding enemies, while Obelix can grab them and keep hitting them in different ways, but if we exclude these peculiarities, the two characters are essentially identical: it didn’t seem to us that Obelix inflicts more damage, given the size , to say, or that Asterix moves faster.
Having said that, the problem with the gameplay is certainly not the range of moves, which in any case is more than discreet and guarantees a good variety, as much as the combat dynamics real, if we can call them that. The enemies are practically all the same and within a few levels you will have seen them all: occasionally real ones take to the field boss di fine stage, but the developer recycles to exhaustion even those, which in any case do not represent who knows what threat. Often and willingly, indeed, the henchmen who accompany them are more unpleasant.
The game, in fact, is really badly balanced. Any enemy attack can interrupt the animations of the two protagonists, so using the grip with Obelix is often unnecessarily risky, since the long initial animation is almost always interrupted, leaving the Rooster exposed and vulnerable. There parade, then, it is almost totally useless. Like special attacks, it also consumes i Lightning (a small indicator placed under the character’s health) with each countered hit, but the animation is slow and inaccurate, so it is almost impossible to switch from a combo to a parry while the enemies surround us, especially when we consider that the parry only protects frontally and the attacks from behind interrupt it.
With that in mind, there are enemies that attack with unpredictable animations that the player cannot interrupt – such as bandit charges – and this often forces them to choose the easier solution: crowd control. Rather than knocking down enemies in snout daddies, you find your best bet is to grab the smaller ones and throw them across the screen to knock them all to the ground repeatedly. At certain moments you have the feeling of cheating, but the most direct alternative is too confusing and unsatisfactory: to this is added the boredom of always facing the same opponents, thinking that it is enough to make a false step, perhaps at the end of the stage. , to find yourself at the starting point. In this sense, the foods that are occasionally found in barrels should be used wisely to restore the health of the worse off character.
Asterix & Obelix: Slap Them All! you can play alone or in company. On Nintendo Switch, just select cooperative mode at any time and entrust a friend with a Joy-con or another controller to keep beating the Romans together. In cooperative mode, however, the game hardly changes at all. Communication adds a bit of salt to the experience, especially when you need to divide up regenerative foods or are in a tight spot, but the gameplay is so mundane and free of flickers that not even the multiplayer manages to lift him from mediocrity.
The developer has slipped a few here and there minigame to break the monotony, but even those are simple affairs: in most cases it is about running as hard as you can by repeatedly pressing a button to get to the finish line before an opponent, or you have to break as many barrels as possible before time runs out. Nothing particularly engaging, if we really want to be honest.
And it’s a real shame because Asterix & Obelix: Slap Them All! it’s really nice to see. Mr.Nutz Studios he chose a completely hand-drawn 2D graphic, and the result is evident. The stages are incredibly well-finished and rich in details, but in general it seems like watching a cartoon that respectfully transposes Uderzo’s drawings, complete with onomatopoeias at every punch thrown. Even the sprites of the enemies denote a certain variety, and although there are few types of opponents, at least they are not limited to being simple recolored sprites as happens in many other games. It is a pity, therefore, that some animations they are not fluid or harmonious like the others – those of the parade are particularly rough – and that in certain stages there are noticeable slowdowns if the presence of so many sprites is added to some animation too much in the background.