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Asterix: The Official Game of the Movie

For: Mobile

A little gaulling

Product: Asterix: The Official Mobile Game of the Movie | Publisher: EA Mobile | Format: Mobile | Genre: Action, Film/ TV tie- in | Players: 1 | Format: J2ME | File size: 507KB | Reviewed on: K800i other handsets | Version: Europe
Asterix: The Official Mobile Game of the Movie Mobile, thumbnail 1
Before Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon and marched mutinously on Rome to assume short-lived control of the world's greatest empire, he honed his military skills on the Gauls. Setting up camp in what is now France, he spent several years subduing the barbarian population of that gloomy patch, and that's where he made his glorious reputation.

But he didn't subdue everybody if René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo's comic books are to be believed. One village of invincible Gauls held out against the invaders, thanks largely to the efforts of Asterix, his lumbering companion Obelix and a well-timed swig of magic potion.

In concert with the forthcoming Gérard Depardieu film, EA has brought Asterix to mobile, and while in some respects the effort is a fair one, particularly judged against most other film licenses, you won't be surprised to hear it also contains its share of disappointments.

To start with the positive though, presentation is arguably one of the most important things to get right in a licence of this kind, and Asterix: The Official Game of the Movie does a fine job of reproducing the distinctive look of the original comics in its sprites, backdrops and cut-scenes. Even the typeface is faithful.

The plot plays out in a strange mix of game types however. Occupying the title role, you start off accompanying the love-struck Lovestorix to an athletics competition in which he intends to win his paramour Irina's hand through demonstrations of physical prowess.

But when you get there, the Romans have stitched you up, breaking the registration stone on which the names of Asterix, Obelix and Lovestorix have been carved into four parts and scattering them around a small village. In the strangely mercenary manner common to videogame NPCs, a few residents help you out, but at the price of a chore each.

The first thing you do is go fishing, by lowering a baited hook into the path of a fish with '8' and then pressing '4' and '6' when it bites to stop it from struggling. After that, you're running about in the village, clambering across rooftops, bouncing from magnificently elastic awnings, killing people and generally platforming until you complete the last of your humdrum chores and shuffle into the next chapter: the games.

These entail taking control of Asterix and Obelix by turns, participating in events based on the javelin, the discus, the long jump and the sprint. With the exception of the sprint, these are all more or less identical timing exercises in which you have to hit '5' whenever a symbol passes through a cursor at the bottom of the screen, stop before a white line, and then time a final button press to determine the trajectory of the throw or jump.

These contests are thin but contain enough fun to keep your attention, and our only real criticism is that there are too few of them and reaching the benchmark required in order to proceed is far too easy, robbing you of the satisfaction that comes with gradually mastering a physical knack.

The fourth event, racing, is the weakest. In this you run automatically from left to right, accelerating when you press '6'. You have a limited reserve of energy with which to boost, and so strewn around the track are lightning symbols that top you up at the cost of whatever ground you lose by veering to collect them.

Given that this is by far the weakest type of event, it's disappointing that the game ends with another race, almost identical but for the fact that it takes place in chariots and contains a few more power-ups and obstacles. You're likely to reach this anti-climax within an hour or so of first starting the game, and while we enjoyed the timing-based athletics events there's very little replay value.

Nevertheless, Asterix is a beautifully presented title with several promising elements and some variety. It's certainly not going to be anybody's game of the year - it's not even our game of the day - but it's a serious effort, and if Mobile Interactions ever makes a sequel there's every chance that they'll get it more right next time.
Asterix: The Official Game of the Movie
Reviewer photo
Rob Hearn | 25 January 2008
Asterix looks good and is never less than playable, but its few good ideas don't reach their potential in this so-so mobile licence
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