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Asterix (Sega Master System) artwork

Asterix (Sega Master System) review

"The unique characters, stages tailored to the character chosen, well-scaled difficulty, intelligent and innovative level design, and multiplayer capabilities superseded my expectations. It all combines to make a really great game that is fun to play and shouldn't be missed by any gaming enthusiast. "

Quick Info
Asterix is a Sega Master System (SMS) one or two-player platforming game developed and published by Sega in 1991. The game is based around the famous French comics of Asterix where we follow the titular hero and his companion, Obelix, as they fight their way to Rome on a rescue mission. While it does feature famous characters, the real draw of the game is in the gameplay. Asterix has some of the best platforming on the system with its well-designed levels, steady learning curve, and two-player mode.


===> Visuals = (absolutely astounding) 10/10
The visuals in this game are head-and-shoulders above anything else the Master System had to offer at the time.

> Graphics - 9/10
The graphics for Asterix are so good, they can compare with some 16-bit games. The heroes, Asterix and Obelix, are fully fleshed out...looking just like their comic book iterations were supplanted right into the game in 8-bit glory. The enemies also look extremely detailed...from the Roman hiding as a "flower" to a mummy breaking out of his sarcophagus, you can see every pedal on the flower to every bandage on the mummy. However, if there was an overlooked aspect to the graphics it would come in the backdrops to many of the stages...which fall far short of the otherwise high graphical standards of the foreground in the game. Yet, just as jaw-dropping as the actual graphics is the variety seen in the enemies and environments. From the Roman hiding in a log in a forest, to a swordfish in an ice world, to the killer pot in a pyramid, Asterix ensures that it will never recycle enemies between levels. In fact, some enemies are unique to just one stage! Add that to the myriad of environments thrown at the player and you get a diverse array of visuals that keeps the game fresh from start to finish!

> Animation - 10/10
The animation is also on an unparalleled level. Many key moves, such as the basic punch, have several animation frames rather than the more standard 2-frame animation for 8-bit titles. Add to that the fact that with the variety of enemies comes a variety of ways to animate them, and it really becomes a wonder how they fit so much into a title working with so little. To be sure, however, there are some disadvantages to some of the later levels the screen gets to be too much for the Master System to handle, forcing slow-down in the game. Yet, even considering this...the superbly done animations of the numerous enemies and actions in the game is jaw-droppingly awesome.

===> Sound = (okay) 7/10
Decent but unmemorable, the sound in the game doesn't blow you away...but doesn't detract from the experience either.

> Music - 7/10
The music in Asterix is generally happy-go-lucky and fits the theme of the levels. There are a couple of good ones, like the castle music...but for the most part the music remains background noise that the player doesn't remember when the power is off.

> Effects - 8/10
All of the sound effects do their job in accentuating the action on screen. Nothing pops out as off-beat, unfitting, or especially annoying.

===> Storyline = (true to the comics) 8/10
The storyline of the game roughly follows the plotline of one of the earlier Asterix comics. In the game, the time is 50 B.C. and all of Gaul (France) is occupied by the Roman Empire...except for one tiny village where our heroes, Asterix and Obelix, live in. The reason they are able to hold out against the Romans is by using a magic potion made by the village druid, Getafix. So, learning this, Caesar has Getafix kidnapped. Now we enter the game with Asterix and Obelix set up to rescue Getafix from Caesar's clutches!

The storyline of the game is introduced by both the manual and a small sequence before the title screen using panels (hailing to the comic book roots) and text. During the game, the storyline is advanced through the use of a quick panel and text at the start of new levels. Even though the storyline in Asterix is not particularly involving or does stay true to the comic books that it pulls from. Keeping the character, tone, and even storytelling method used since its inception. Considering this coupled with the fact that platformers weren't really known for having stories at that time...and you get a pretty decent impression of this game's story elements.


===> Gameplay = (better than a magic potion) 10/10
Asterix is extremely well-polished, sporting good controls, two-player capabilities, two playable characters, different level designs based on the chosen character, well-designed levels with a good difficulty curve, and is extremely fun to boot!

> Controls - 10/10
The controls for a platformer are extremely important and Asterix delivers with responsive controls that are pretty intuitive. Button 1 punches while Button 2 jumps. You can also throw items by pressing Up or Down and Button 1. Even though there are no "special moves" in the game, you can throw different items depending on what you have picked up (oftentimes a type of potion). Anyways, the simple actions of jump, punch, and throw are more than enough to allow the player to enjoy them game regardless.

> Design - 10/10
Asterix is near 8-bit platforming perfection. The only negative thing some people may point towards is the noticeable lack of boss battles. However, there are no real obvious or major design flaws in the game. There are, however, a lot of positive design choices to rave about. Perhaps the best design choice is in the different playstyles of our two heroes, Asterix and Obelix. Asterix is noticeably smaller and more agile allowing him to fit in places Obelix just wouldn't be able to go. He also has an easier time navigating some platforming sections due to a seemingly better jump ability. On the other hand, while Asterix may be small and agile, Obelix is quite large and extremely powerful. Asterix requires the use of an explosive potion to destroy blocks...Obelix just smashes them. Yet, the best thing about the differences in the two playstyles of the heroes is that Sega alters the stage based on the character you choose! All the stages will still have the same basic design elements and require the same general tricks to navigate them...but the specific design of the stage is altered to play towards the strengths (or weaknesses) of the character you choose! The ability to play as two different characters with stages tailored directly to them adds to both the variety and replay value of the game. With two characters, it make sense to make the game two-player capable...and it is! Asterix allows two-players to play with one playing as Asterix and the other as Obelix.

The variety in level design is also a noticeable positive to the game. While some stages are pretty straight forward (especially earlier ones), many encourage exploration, introduce new elements to the game, or require intelligent use of abilities in order to pass them. This forces the player to not only have good mechanical skills, but also to have an open mind, willing to try different things to make it past some of the puzzles. The variety and innovation in level design is carried over to the enemies...the game very, very rarely repeats enemies in different levels. Every level brings new enemies with new attacks to be learned. Even though the game throws many new things at you, none of them have a real "gimmick" all feels fresh and new while maintaining a consistently solid platforming design to back it up. Overall, the design in Asterix is worthy of the highest praise.

> Difficulty - Perfectly Scaled
Depending on where you are in the game, you may think that the stage is too easy, just right, or pretty darn challenging! Asterix offers a perfectly scaled difficulty level to accommodate for a player's learning curve (the earlier levels are pretty easy). However, the game constantly pushes the player by keeping the game's difficulty tuned just right to push the player...but stops short of heartache and frustration. Keeping the difficulty level just right...not too easy, but not absurdly a difficult feat to accomplish, but Sega did it here!

> Fun Factor - 9/10
Asterix is a ton of fun to play. The ability to play with friends is always a benefit that a lot of games miss out on...including multiplayer is always a huge plus. However, even without multiplayer, you can choose from the different characters and will have a grand time navigating the well-thought-out levels.

> Replay Value - Moderate
If you beat the game once, you can always go back and try to beat the game using the opposite character you used on the levels. While the basic design is the same, it is different enough that it still allows for a new experience. On top of that, multiplayer always allows for some replay value while you compete with your buddies.


===> Reviewer Opinion = (best platformer I've played in a while) 9/10
I was honestly surprised by playing Asterix, it is the best platformer I've played in a long, long time. The unique characters, stages tailored to the character chosen, well-scaled difficulty, intelligent and innovative level design, and multiplayer capabilities superseded my expectations. It all combines to make a really great game that is fun to play and shouldn't be missed by any gaming enthusiast.

===> Overall Impression = (Bar-Setting) 10/10
Asterix is, without a doubt, one of the best platformers on the Sega Master System. It isn't is just an extremely well-designed and executed game. It sets the standard for what games could and should be.


ThoughtFool1's avatar
Community review by ThoughtFool1 (August 05, 2013)

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aschultz posted August 09, 2013:

Thanks for this review! As a big Asterix fan, I played the Arcade version & it's cool to read that the SMS version is also pretty awesome. I noticed this game made a top 10 list at GameFAQs too. I may have to check the game out now.
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ThoughtFool1 posted August 09, 2013:

Thank you! I definitely write these reviews to help get the word out about good (and bad) games :) Asterix is definitely worth playing if you are able to try it I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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