It might sound a bit exaggerated, but I’ll say it anyway: Astro Bot: Rescue Mission represents a pinnacle of long, magical and eventfully evolution of the platformer genre that started in the venerable antiquity of the early eighties with games such as Space Panic and first Donkey Kong. Of course, there are those gaming authorities who probably wouldn’t agree with this statement and who would mention dozens of other platformers more deserving of this high-status title – but they clearly haven’t played Astro Bot: Rescue Mission yet. This uber cute platformer made exclusively for PlayStation VR recounts the space ventures of titular Astro, a little robot who desperately strives to round-up his robotic buddies scattered throughout the infinite boondocks of the universe.
And yet, everything started so harmlessly and in high spirits: Astro and his crew were space-surfing and chilling on top of their spacecraft (conveniently designed like giant robotic head with a VR headset) when they were waylaid by a huge slimy green alien in a stereotypical space saucer. An awkward situation to be sure, but it was made worse when alien callously tried to pull out the headpiece. Unfortunately, that not only resulted in the destruction of their spaceship, but all robots (212 of them, to be more precise) except for Astro were thrown about with the debris. It’s up to little Astro to put on a blue superhero cape (just to show who’ll eventually save the day) and rescue his unlucky friends. Of course, he’ll do it in the only possible way – in a true platformer fashion.
Astro will run around like mad, jumping about, skipping platforms, collecting gold and other items, beating up enemies that come his way and doing other things typical for platformer genre. This undeniably sounds extremely formulaic on paper, and perhaps it would be like that if this was just another ordinary 2D or 3D platformer. However, the VR technology adds a new dimension to the game, making it an almost transcendental experience where you’ll closely tail little robot as he excitedly bolts through levels like greased lightning. You’ll control his actions using a gamepad, and you’ll look about by moving your head (equipped with VR headset, of course). Unlike most platformers who use side-scrolling perspective, Alto can move only forward, with the occasional changes of perspective to spice things up with some attractive shot.
The sense of immersion is absolutely stupefying – you’ll feel as you’re actually there to witness everything firsthand. Thankfully, Astro Bot: Rescue Mission is a visually beautiful game, where every level is completely different. On your quest to rescue all your missing friends, you’ll visit worlds with breathtaking and utterly bizarre sceneries, from desert planets with giant robot cactuses, through enormous construction sites, to an underwater ecosystem where you’ll swim side by side with android dolphins. Each of those levels will be a unique and thrilling experience in its own right, and more importantly, you’ll feel as if you’re actually there. And when you finally get to your first boss fight, you’ll realize how spectacular in scope and size this game is. For instance, a showdown with a ginormous space monkey (a tribute to Donkey Kong, no doubt) where you’ll pull out his tooth with a grappling hook, will make you feel extremely small and vulnerable.
All things considered, with a great action full of breathtaking sceneries and wow moments, Astro Bot: Rescue Mission can, at the very least, rival any other platformer on the market. However, thanks to the perfect implementation of the VR technology and phenomenal feeling of actuality you’ll get while playing it (regardless of the fact that everything is done in cartoonish style), Astro Bot: Rescue Mission surpasses the competition by far. One thing is guaranteed: If players of those first original platformers could somehow see Astro Bot: Rescue Mission in all its vibrant, gaudy, and hectic glory, they would undoubtedly feel the same awe and reverence as a humble tribe of apes before the perfection and mystery of the black monolith.