Astro Bot Rescue Mission Review

20190102 AstroBot
20190102 AstroBot
Released 2018
Platform PlayStation 4
Publisher Sony Interactive Entertainment (Website)
Developer Japan Studio (Website)
Homepage PlayStation.com (Website)
Players 1
Category Virtual Reality
Platformer
Collectables

The little bot that could

One of the first ‘games’ you get (or should get) with PlayStation VR is called The Playroom VR.  Essentially a few mini-games showing off the VR tech, The Playroom VR is a great introduction to different nuances of VR gaming.

One of these mini-games is Japan Studio’s Rescue Robots.  The idea is simple – you control a single robot through a 3D world and try to find all your missing friends through the level.

The catch – you are actively in the game.  Your avatar is a (relatively) huge vacuum looking robot that floats through the level on a set path.  Your controller is visible on the screen at all times, as it is part of the game.  You can shoot out a rope and grappling hooks to create tightropes and pull down walls.

It was a very immersive experience and a highlight of the package.

Robots Rescue PlayRoom VR
Rescue Robots was definitely one of the most popular Playroom VR mini games

And now Rescue Robots is all grown up

Now, Rescue Robots has evolved into its own game – Astro Bot Rescue Mission.

The basic gameplay is almost identical, but a bit of polishing has happened.  On starting a new game, you get to see the Bots and their sentient mothership attacked by an alien.  The ship is ripped apart, and the alien makes off with the ships PSVR visor.

So you control Astro, captain of the ship, and set off to explore five different worlds and find your friends.

Story-wise, this will never win awards.  It’s all a thin premise to get you where you need to be for the platforming, and that is where Astro Bot Rescue Mission shines.

On the surface, it’s a very straightforward platformer.  Control Astro and explore the stages, collecting coins and finding your missing crewmates.

Astro Bot Rescue Mission Opening
The more of your crewmates you save, the more greet you on the opening screen

Some crew are out in the open, some are hidden in various ways.  The great sound of the game lets you hear the bots cry out for help, and the 3D sound makes it easy to home in on where you should be looking.

What it doesn’t do is home in on how you should be looking – and that is a great element of Astro Bot Rescue Mission.

If you think of yourself as a camera moving around on a dolly, that would be fairly correct.  But you aren’t fixed in your seat.  There will be times you will want to stand and look ahead or behind you for secrets and hidden paths that your initial view hid with perspective.

Astro Bot Rescue Mission Exploring the World
So the little guy looking up is Astro, the guy up inm the air is one of your crewmates, and the big huge thing in the screen is you!

And that’s just part of it.  Some of the bots are hidden, but not all of them are calling out for help.  Some are quietly lazing around, minding their own business until you knock something or turn around to see them.

This kind of thinking is slowly introduced through the levels of the game.  In the first level, the fact that a bot in it that is lazing next to an enemy subtly teaches you that just because enemies came from there, doesn’t mean that a crew member can’t be around.

Then you get into the environmental controller bonuses.  Some levels give you different ways of interacting with the world directly.

The first tool is the grappling line, similar to Rescue Robots.  Create tightropes or pull down walls to make Astro new paths.  Shurikens are another bonus, allowing you to embed them in certain walls to make platforms.  Another is a water hose, letting you grow plants and vines as paths in the Garden levels, or cool lava to make a path in Volcano levels.

And of course, there is the old fashioned mini-gun ball launcher, to knock over everything in your way 🙂

Astro Bot Rescue Mission New Item Unlocked
Trouble from above? Mini ball blaster unlocked! You have to play yourself, it's not all on Astro!

But it’s not just the gameplay

Astro Bot Rescue Mission is a great traditional platformer with not so traditional twists.  And as I have said, the story isn’t going to win any real prizes.

But the characters.  Initially, you think ‘Oh cute’.  But I actually started caring about not only the Bots but the ‘enemies’ stopping me and the others that help you along the way.

Having Astro look at you and wave as it makes its way around the level was fun, and a few times I actually found myself waving back!  This is a world that you don’t think about when you start playing, but truly pulls you in completely.

The cutesy graphics style may make Astro Bot Rescue Mission look like a kids game, but don’t let that fool you.  There is a lot happening here, and the simpler graphics not only establish the world but let it play smoothly on the PlayStation hardware.

Astro Bot Rescue Mission Cute little game
There is no way you can say the characters don't have personality

On the whole, the controls worked great.  There were a few times that I would go ‘out of field’ with the headset, but just moving back fixed that and it never happened at a critical moment, only when I was physically walking around exploring.

Once you put the PSVR on, you are in the world of Astro Bot Rescue Mission, and that is an accomplishment in and of itself.

So what’s wrong with it?

Honestly – not much.  The controls have a little bit of a learning curve, as the direction you push to send Astro is relative to where you are looking.

The biggest complaint I would have is the game length, and even that is a relative complaint.

There are five game worlds, each with four levels and a boss.  Once these are cleared, there is one ‘final’ boss – the alien from the start.  This is a pretty short game to get to the end overall.

But there is a lot more to do.  Each level has a chameleon you have to find, and finding these unlock challenges.  This adds 26 extra levels to the game, adding a couple of hours overall.  It’s a welcome addition and requires skill and practice, but unfortunately, it also feels a little like padding.

Astro Bot Rescue Mission Challenge Levels
Just when you thought you were done...

There is also a ‘grabber’ mini-game where you spend your coins.  This lets you rebuild levels inside the mothership to play and explore in.

Grab a bomb, waste some coins.  Levels can be replayed to farm coins, so it’s not a massive issue, but the mini-game is more for novelty than gameplay value.

That said, I have put Astro Bot Rescue Mission on the ‘I am going to Platinum this’ list for 2019 – and hopefully before the end of January!

Astro Bot Rescue Mission In The Mothership
When you get the grabber items, you get pieces for fun mini levels in the Mother ship. Ride an abducted cow anyone?

Even though the game is relatively short (a dedicated day to finish everything is my guess), it is a lot of fun to play and well worth the price of admission.

As long as it’s on sale.  AUD$55 is a bit much I think for the amount of game you get, but the AUD$31 until 19/01/2019 is pretty much spot on.

But there really is no better way to understand Astro Bot than by playing it yourself.  And while it’s not as good as having the controller in your hands, below is my first video of 2019 – finishing the first level of Astro Bot Rescue Mission with all the secrets!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD
Astro Bot Rescue Mission

Final Thoughts

It’s fun, immersive, and has that ‘one more go’ factor that makes great games great.

In small doses, Astro Bot Rescue Mission might even be a good trainer for getting your ‘VR legs’ if you experience motion sickness in VR.  Either way, a heap of fun and another great game from Japan Studio.

MORE PLEASE!!!

Overall
9/10
9/10

Pros

  •  Lots of fun
  •  Great use of VR systems
  •  Great start to a potential new franchise
  •  Friendly learning curve

Cons

  •  Can cause Motion Sickness
  •  Relatively Short

Last Week’s Gaming – January 7th, 2019

20190107 Shadows Amsterdam

Shadows of Crime spun by Spinderella start with a Thief!

Oh, the holidays.  There was so much I wanted to do, but the only real thing I got done was wipe 99{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} of sleep debt.  Still, worth it!

I didn’t replay a lot of games, but I did knock over some video games which was fun.  Even the old favourite Stop Thief! was a new twist, trying out the cooperative mode 🙂

Spinderella

This was an Alpal special, and it was a surprising amount of fun!

Basically a kids game, your goal is to move all three of your bugs from one end of a path to the other.  But there are also some spiders working together to nab your bugs, and bits of log falling on you as well!

Heavy use of magnets makes Spinderella younger child friendly, as it will be hard to break the string because of moving the topmost spiders too far apart.  Roll and move gameplay with a twist – give it a go if you get the chance!

20190107 Spinderella
Don't let the fact it's a 'Kids game stop you from having a great time

Chronicles of Crime

I had been hankering to play this since my Kickstarter copy arrived a few weeks ago, and I finally got the chance!

A higher tech version of games like Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, Chronicles of Crime requires you to use an app to play.  All ‘cards’ have information from a QR code, allowing different scenarios and corrections to be rolled out with app updates.

You can also ‘investigate’ a crime scene – one person has the device/VR kit, and describes the area while actively looking around.  It’s deeper than I expected, and much quicker to play than I expected as well.

Investigating is fun, and the ability to actually question subjects on individual items without prompting is amazing.  For example, if you want to ask the waiter about drinks, you scan the waiter, then the drinks evidence – done!  But you can ask literally anyone about the drinks, and there is no ‘If you have the drinks, go to page xx’ prompts, so it’s also more challenging as you work out what needs to go where.

I can’t wait to provide a formal review soon!

20190107 Chronicles of Crime
You answer like you play - by scanning the cards to give the answer. No spoilers here though!

Stop Thief!

Finally had a chance to kick back and enjoy the first Restoration Games classic in my collection.

Stop Thief! is normally played competitively, with individual players trying to work out where the thief is from the provided sound clues.  This round though I got to play cooperatively with Rabbit, and it was an intriguing round indeed!

Having never played Stop Thief, it was good to lay out my thinking to teach Rabbit how to play without having to step back from ‘winning the game’.  The game is very similar, but instead of the most money being won, everyone has a single stack of money that can run out as robberies happen.

Now to put aside some time for Solo Mode…

20190107 Stop Thief
It looks like a lot is happening, but Stop Thief! is simple and straightforward and a blast to play

Shadows: Amsterdam

Another Alpal special, and one that knocked off an item for ‘most anticipated game to play in 2019’ (You knew the lists were coming, right?)

Imagine Codenames and Dixit had an affair – Shadows: Amsterdam would be the result.

Playing in two teams, one player is in charge of giving their team clues in the form of picture cards.  Players then need to interpret which picture to move to on the board.  There are three ‘clues’ that need to be collected before a final client is to be found.  First team to find the client without getting caught by the police three times wins!

Shadows: Amsterdam is fun, fast, and a heap of fun to play.  Formal review coming soon!

20190107 Shadows Amsterdam
If you enjoy Codenames, Shadows: Amsterdam is a no-brainer selection for you!

Pokemon Let’s Go

And I have finished!  The story at least, but the journey is done 🙂

As very much a Pokemon ‘casual’, and someone that was flat out at the end of the year, Pokemon Let’s Go was a great game for me.  As I had already played Pokemon Yellow (years ago, but yeah) having an idea of the game meant I could pick it up and put it down with ease.

And it was a little too much ease.  Honestly, I skipped two gyms and a secret technique that lets you fast travel to towns you have visited, and I still beat the game (with a lot of walking and backtracking).  And beat I MewTwo.  Yep, I have a MewTwo now 🙂

There is a bunch of extra stuff to do that I may or may not do, but you can hear about all that tomorrow with the Let’s Go review 😀

20190107 MewTwo
Wandering into the cave with 3 mid-level 60 and high level 50 Pokemon made this a tough fight, but I have MewTwo now 🙂

Detective Pikachu

So I started Detective Pikachu AGES ago, and the linear story was/is fun and a new Pokemon take was interesting.

The main problem I had was I put it down as the music was putting me to sleep (I was playing bit by bit at the end of the day), and didn’t pick up the DS to play for weeks.  Even at PAX Aus, where I was grabbing StreetPasses left and right, I didn’t even fire up Detective Pikachu.

I was determined to finish Detective Pikachu this year though, and now, it’s done.  I was about 2 hours from finishing, and that was taking my time.  So close!  But I also wanted to start another game on the DS, but more on that soon.

But you can hear my final thoughts on Detective Pikachu next Tuesday if you would like to know more.

20190107 Detective Pikachu
Detective Pikachu is a whole lot of fun 🙂 Not an overly complicated, but still enjoyable.

Luigi’s Mansion

I remember years ago buying a copy of Luigi’s Mansion and a Game Cube for a friend.  I must have watched many hours of their kids and my nephew play it, but I never got around to it.

Last year, Luigi’s Mansion 3 was announced for the Switch.  Now these days, if you want a game to get my attention, announce it on the Switch.  And memories of the first game came flooding up…

Thanks to the EB Games Boxing Day sales, I now have the first two in the series on DS.  I have only really played the tutorial and the first few rooms, but it’s already proving itself to be a fun diversion that needs just that bit of attention to finish it.

20190107 Luigis Mansion
It may be an old game, but Luigi's Mansion is still a bit of fun on the 2DS.

Astro Bot Rescue Mission

This fun little gem has taken the gaming awards by storm.  According to Metacritic, it’s the #7 PS4 game released in 2018, and #1 if you look at PSVR only!

With the January sales, I had to have a look at it.  It was being universally praised, and I can see why.  It’s adorable, immersive, challenging, and most importantly (for a VR game) completely immersive.

I only played for about 8 hours I think in total, but I have 100{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} completed 3 of the five worlds and I am on the final world now.

Short version – if you like Mario Bros style games, and are interested in VR, get Astro Bot Rescue Mission.  You will hear much on this game over the coming weeks, so be ready 🙂

20190107 AstroBot Gameplay
Find your bot friends, collect coins for mini-games, and enjoy the most Nintendo platformer on PlayStation

Beat Saber

In my opinion, Beat Saber got robbed by Astro Bot on Metacritic.  As I said, Astro Bot is a great game, and I am enjoying it thoroughly, but Beat Saber I have kept coming back to all year.  No other VR game has been able to do this, and that was before the new content.

A recent update added a couple of very fun new songs, and Rabbit has discovered with me the fun of playing some songs on Faster – it somehow makes them more fun and easier while making you move even more at the same time!

I need to move more, so I am going to try and get back into playing Beat Saber daily.  Let’s see if my score goes up…

Beat Saber Hitting the Cubes
You can watch people playing, but nothing compares to the feel of cutting cubes yourself

Kingdom Hearts

YES.  It has begun.  The Kingdom Hearts run is beginning.

I am a little torn though.  Do I just run through the games?  I can do this, and may even be able to finish Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 if I do this.

But.

I love this series, and I kind of want to platinum them – including the games I missed as I didn’t have a DS at the time.

Thinking, thinking.  Decisions to be made.  I will let you know what I decide, but if you are a fan grab the Final Mixes if you haven’t already.  The worst of the PS2 controls have been smoothed – they aren’t gone, but I am not as frustrated playing.  And it’s as fun as ever 🙂

20190107 Kingdom Hearts
There's a lot of cutscenes, but once you are into the game there isn't much time to laze about.

What about you?  What have you been up to?  Have you been getting more games in?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD