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  • Yeah, I'd never heard of Astal either. It kinda fell into that memory hole of early

  • Saturn releases, back when CD media was just getting its legs under it and there were as

  • many wide misses as genuine hits. But, as Jeanie from PA assured me, this one falls

  • into that "genuine hits" category. That is, if you don't mind the weird, bug-eyed wannabe-proto-Sting

  • visual style, or the fact that the vocal performance leaves Japanese interjections in the gameplay

  • action but dubs all the other audio into English, using a voice actress who makes our weird

  • little hero with the egregious haircut there sound EXACTLY like U-1 from Gitaroo-Man (and,

  • by extension, Musashi from said Samurai Legend). And that's a thing that usually stops me cold

  • in my tracks. I blame Jeanie.

  • So after going through the world's creation myth in the opening video (a kindness not

  • commonly offered to we gamers), we understand that bad haircut there is trying to save his

  • sister. Unfortunately, the path to said sister is laden with platforming and evil things

  • that happen to be formed from crystals: crystal goblins, crystal birds, crystal pig-bear-lookin'

  • things... and all you have are your bare, grotesquely-oversized hands. These are perfect

  • for either picking up and throwing mobs (potentially knocking out other foes coming up on your

  • six), or doing an axe-handle from the air. Either way, the emphasis is less on speed

  • and more on "how to do the most damage with a single attack." Or, of course, you could

  • just uproot a big freakin' tree and drop it on 'em. After the halfway point of the first

  • stage, you're assisted further by a bird, who can deliver a diving attack, fetch weird

  • eggplant-looking foodstuffs for restorative purposes, or provide context-sensitive support

  • like clearing out a swarm of bats or taking care of a certain boss' backup winged eyeballs.

  • These abilities expend energy from the bar down at the bottom of the screen, which charges

  • by one segment every time you defeat an enemy with that weird greenish glowing aura about

  • it.

  • There's a fairly steep learning curve when approaching the game, as the difficulty and

  • timing can be tough to get down, and there are plenty of strange wrinkles to the gameplay,

  • like this sea-creature-ride of peril. The most frustrating part is the physics, where

  • the momentum of dashing jump can be almost completely halted in midair simply by attacking.

  • It's a good thing your little bird friend there can bring you those eggplants, else

  • you'd be in dire pain from one side of the level to the other. But for its rather strange

  • mechanics, Astal sounds quite good (in both languages), the sprite art is very lush, as

  • are the backgrounds, and... well, the mechanics kinda grow on ya, if you're masochistic enough

  • to really try to figure them out. As an in-house Sega development, and one of the earliest

  • Saturn releases, Astal wanted to push this brand-new hardware, and... well, to those

  • who could dig the rather strange style, it presented a pretty sound argument. Problem

  • was, there just weren't that many such gamers in '95. Shame, really. This could've been

  • the game I go to whenever I hear that rather distinctive, kinda whiny voice, instead of

  • Gitaroo-Man.

Yeah, I'd never heard of Astal either. It kinda fell into that memory hole of early

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CGR Undertow - セガサターンのASTALレビュー (CGR Undertow - ASTAL review for Sega Saturn)

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    阿多賓 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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