Monday, September 9, 2013

VGR Aero the Acro-Bat 2

Aero the Acro-Bat is back in his second adventure!

Mascot platformers you ask? Check out the following reviews!

VGR: Aero the Acro-Bat 2 also known as ATA2
From Iguana Entertainment/Sunsoft
Played on Megadrive
Also available on SNES & Wii

Type Platform sidescroller
Year 1994

The simply titled Aero the Acro-Bat 2 is the second and only game to date the self-styled Sunsoft mascot.

Specifically designed for the company by Iguana Entertainment, there would be approximatively four games more or less related to the little red bat.

Two full games, a spinoff and a later spiritual sequel.. but I digress...

Released a year after the original, for the occasion and to rival with the rapidly increasing heavy concurrence, Sunsoft decide to reimagine their formula.

Exit the entire Circus-theme.

This gave the sequel a bigger, broader platformer. More in line with what was being done at the time, yet still retaining what made Aero different from the countless Sonic clones at the time.

The sequel starts off where the original left.

Strangely enough, for a sidescrolling platformer from the 1990s, the game packs a lot of cutscenes! There's quite a lot of story in Aero 2. More so for a game this genre and from that time. It's quite unusual to see a game like this specially on the Megadrive. Some are even animated and contain their fair share of special effects.

Aero thought he had defeated the evil industrialist Edgar Ektor, his clown-faced arch-nemesis.

But at the last minute he was saved from his fall by his minion, Zero (who is actually absent from this sequel afterwards, due to having his own spinoff).

Defeated the last time? He was prepared for the eventuality! Edgar then starts his very long and mysterious "Plan B" to take over the world... of amusement!

And it's up to Aero once again to defeat the villain and put a stop to his evil deeds!

But this time Aero will have to save some of his old friends from the Circus, face several henchmen and villains at the orders of Edgar as well as explore Dr Dis Industries. Can he trust the lovely Batasha? And who exactly is that "Alter Aero" character?

The game plays more or less like its predecessor... and your usual typical platformer.

All three main buttons are used to perform several moves. A for shooting starts you can collect around, B to jump and a second time to perform an upward or downwards spiral attack, C to look.

C can be used to slide in mid-run. As well as a drop-down attack.

You will explore several levels, three acts per "world". From a Bell Castle (careful to those bells coming out of nowhere in the darkness!) to a musical stage, Boardin' Zone a snow mountain, another castle there, a dungeon/prison and finally face Ektor on his Ektors Engine train aimed for destruction!!

Some levels have an extra boss stage. And in-between you will get some bonus stages as well, a chance to win more lives and score. (magic trick, pick and find the correct object)

But it's when you get right down to it that the game really shines.

Compared to the first Aero, the levels are huge and labyrinth-esque.

The visuals are colorful, impressive and full of little details. From the snow under Aero's foot tracks to the day passing through a level.

Some animated background are 32X-quality impressive. (I'm thinking of the music stage)

The guys at Iguana Entertainment really did an outstanding job.

They also streamlined the controls since the first game and got rid of useless animations/moves. And got rid of the silly objectives.

The goal is to simply reach the end of a stage (one of them).

But it's a lot harder and more complicated to do so than it sounds.

But since levels are huge, there's enough room for exploration.

A password system makes a welcome return, since you can continue your progression that way. The game is long and difficult at times.

Aero actually has some funny little death animations, in the style Crash Bandicoot would be known a few years later.

The level design is original enough to provide a different challenge each time. From exploring a long vertical stage to an on-going train. And let's not forgot the fun snowboard zone. It's no Sonic, sure, but still pretty fun and silly.

The music was composed by Rick Fox, and they're pretty catchy from title screen to boss fights!   

Aero was strangely dedicated to popular Formula One racer Ayrton Senna, who died in an accident at the time. (why? no idea.. the guys at Iguana were probably big fans)

And it's the only game aimed at children I know of that ends its story with a deportation (to Eastern Europe no less!!)

Overall, it's a pretty fun and entertaining recommended platformer!

A Sunsoft classic that is sadly too often overlooked.

Both the Megadrive and SNES port were fairly close, unlike the first game. The game's a pretty accurate port on both systems with only some minor coloring details. The real difference is in the music. It sounds totally different due to both console's different sound systems. I prefer the edgier tone on the Sega System, but some might prefer the instrumental approach on the SNES.

A port for the Game Boy Advance was announced in 2003, like with the original game. But it was sadly scrapped at the last moment. 

Thankfully non-retro owners can try it via a completely and unexpected re-release on the Wii Virtual Console in 2010. So be sure to grab a copy and try it for yourself!

I give it:
2.5 / 3 Bruces!

No comments:

Post a Comment