Sunday, August 19, 2012

VGR Aero the Acro-Bat

Time for another mascot-related review!
This time around it's a more obvious Sonic 1 inspired platformed, fresh off from the success of Sega's own hedgehog.

Ready or not, be prepared for the one and only...

VGR: Aero the Acro-Bat
From Iguana Entertainment/Sunsoft
Played on Megadrive
Also available on SNES & GBA

Type Sidescrolling platformer
Year 1993

I hear someone asking already.. what the heck is this game?!
Well, it's all quite simple. A simple glance at the cover should give you the obvious answer.

Aero the Acro-Bat is a game developed by the now defunct Iguana Entertainment studio, created by David Siller (who later go on to develop the popular Maximo for Capcom).

It was developed to basically be Sunsoft's very own mascot with an attitude, a very common type of character in the 90s. Clearly based on Sonic from his design to the use of CGi art on the cover.

But what about the game itself?

You play as Aero.
Aero is an acrobat (duh!) in a circus. He lives and makes a living there.

The circus is currently being attacked by Edgar Ektor, the ancient clown owner of the circus who wants to take his revenge on these folks from banning him.
Edgar is helped by another defector who joined his cause, Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel.

As Aero you must save the circus from the evil clowns, clash several times against Zero and all the while still performing various tasks in the show as you are saving your friends!

The game might sound pretty common as far as 2D platformers go but at least it's a bit more original in its execution.

The levels are large and open. You need to accomplish these various tasks to open up the exit at the end and be allowed to progress to the next level.
Like passing through a bunch of hoops, or jumping a certain number of platforms, going through rides, etc.

The game is long enough with his 4 different worlds with 5 acts each.
And it's not all just the circus. You start there, then the circus moves to a move open area near a forest, then the woods themselves and finally a strange base/museum where Edgar Ektor hides.

Aero also has quite a diverse moveset unlike most of his fellow cartoon game characters.
He can jump, float around (very useful to aim and land on the right platforms), throw some ninja stars (??) that paralyze foes and attack with an aerial drill in diagonal. The idea is to think your moves carefully and by stopping/floating around and spinning in diagonal move carefully and fast through the zones.
(but careful, you have an health system but spikes will kill you at once!)

There's lots of evil clowns around, as well as bosses.
Plus Zero to defeat several times.

There's also various original segments.
Like when Aero is rolling Sonic Spin-style across hills, a fun bungee jump moment, going through water falls, etc.

Be not deceived by his innocent look, it's a very hard game too.

Aero was popular enough during his 15 minutes of fame, that he did really became Sunsoft's mascot for a while, appearing next to their logo in several games.

Now, the music is kinda circus-y.
Which I know get on some people nerves. (though I find it fitting here)
Also that is where fans get divided.
Depends on your tastes, but SNES fans might prefer their version of the soundtrack thanks to the various sound channels of the system, the more orchestral "feel".
Me? Personally I'm not a big fan, I grew up on Sega's Yamah sound chip. I find it that more catchy.
But let's be honest here, it's all a question of personal taste!

Overall, a fun game.
Its gimmick really help selling it and differentiate it enough from all the other generic 16-bit Sonic clones of the time.
Though some might find the controls a bit rigid (takes some using too)  or the music annoying.

Metro 3D had the game ported to the Game Boy Advance back in 2002.

The SNES and Megadrive versions are actually pretty similar graphically.
It's a colorful game.
Like said above, apart from the music it feels and plays the same.
The SNES got some exaggerated sound effects.
And strangely some music got interchanged around amongst these ports.

Oh, and the SNES also has some 3D special bonus segments but I can't say much about those since I didn't try those.

I give it:
 2 / 3 Bruces!

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