ASTRO BOT: Rescue Mission is the latest game from developer JAPAN STUDIO ASOBI!. This team is known for THE PLAYROOM and THE PLAYROOM VR. ASTRO BOT is a spinoff and features the VR BOTS from their past titles. ASTRO BOT: Rescue Mission is certainly one of the most innovative VR platformer games. The game balances challenging 3D platforming with a very familiar level design and art style that is enhanced by virtual reality.
The demo I tried out last week featured two levels. The first one was much like a 3D Mario game, but with some VR twists. The developers take advantage of the fact that players are immersed in the world. At different points in the level, I had to headbutt an obstacle out of the way or look around or underneath an impediment to track down one of ASTRO BOT's buddies. At the end of the level, which featured some difficult jumps and moving platforms, your robot pals are tallied up. This is similar to the red coin mechanic in Mario, but the developers made some of these little buggers very difficult to track down. Audio queues helped signal where to look, but players have to keep their head on a swivel to save all of ASTRO BOT's lost compatriots.
The second level was a boss battle. Everything about this battle reminded me of my favorite Nintendo games. From battling Andross at the end of Star Fox 64 to fighting countless Mario bosses, ASTRO BOT's massive boss battles are truly a nod to the rich history of 3D platformers. Adding to this is an incredible soundtrack that makes the battles seem even more epic. In the demo from last week, ASTRO BOT had to do some serious dental damage on a massive monkey. The developers truly use every aspect of the PS4 ecosystem in this game as they actually found a use for the DualShock4's touchpad. Players are able to flick a grappling hook out of their controller, which is visible in game, and rip out ASTRO BOT's enemy's teeth. After a prolonged battle that required jumping over rings of fire and taking down countless minions, I was victorious and my good buddy ASTRO BOT let out some adorably joyful noises.
ASTRO BOT: Rescue Mission is easy to pick up and play, but will definitely provide a solid challenge to more hardcore gamers. The full version will feature over twenty levels. ASTRO BOT will have to navigate cities, dark caves, beaches, forests, and even ride in a mine cart. The game will also feature six huge boss battles as well as 26 extra challenges for the platforming perfectionists out there.
This is the most exciting platformer game to hit virtual reality since Lucky's Tale launched with Oculus Rift. The game is simply delightful. Every aspect of the game is well thought out from the music to the level design, and the developers take full advantage of the PSVR HMD and the DualShock 4 with their unique gameplay mechanics. I will be looking forward to playing ASTRO BOT: Rescue Mission when it launches exclusively on PSVR.