Aero the Acrobat (Game Boy Advance) - Review by Andrew
Aero The Acrobat is a product of the days when the main hardware manufactures were desperate to acquire a recognisable mascot for their console, with one of the most memorable being Sega?s Sonic The Hedgehog though these days we'd probably refer to it as a platform exclusive; you only have to look at Sony who've previously owned the worldwide licensing to Crash Bandicoot and our very own Nintendo who continue to reap the rewards from such favourites as Mario and Zelda. As Aero was introduced to the gaming world over a decade ago by Sunsoft it's probably clear that this is yet another SNES/Genesis conversion to the GBA. These conversions, of course, have been carried out with varying degrees of success over the years, so is Aero the circus act everyone wants to see or simply another depressing clown?
As the title would suggest Aero is a rather spectacular Acrobat and it's up to you to guide him through more then 20 objective-based levels. These in turn are split into different worlds where the challenges range from switching lights on (with just a single spotlight for aid initially) to jumping through hoops. Your main problem lies in actually finding the desired object complicated by the fact that, where most platformers simply involve you travelling from left to right, Aero features some very open environments where your hidden objective is just as likely to be above or below you as it is to the side. You?ll need to use all your acrobatic abilities to reach the heights and while cannons and balloons may seem perfect for this type of thing, if you go too high you're likely to encounter some rather unforgiving spikes. The same is true when passing through hoops since the odd one, having been set alight, will require pinpoint accuracy if you?re not to deplete your health. As for difficulty settings you'll find that instead of the usual 'easy', 'medium' and 'hard', everyone starts out on a level playing field. Fortunately there are plenty of extra lives scattered around and seemingly endless continues available.
Thanks to the generous number of bonus items available Aero does encourage you to fully explore each level so that the odd (and very lucky) gamer may even uncover the elusive letter 'B' which allows you, after completing the four world levels and one boss level, to enter a bonus section. Unlike the rest of the game this takes place in a 'Mode-7' environment. Here Aero parachutes off a platform to collect bonus items and can significantly push up the overall score. It's not too challenging and there's seemingly little reason for it to be included at all but it does provide a welcome diversion from the platforming action. Finally the developers have taken the gamer-friendly route of an automatic save at the completion of each stage.
This is not as obvious as it should be initially and the lack of a training or tutorial mode means that you'll probably have to refer to the manual for some guidance. It also means though that Aero is a bit more flexible than your usual platforming hero so, in addition to the usual running and jumping, you also have the ability to stay in the air while flapping your wings and to hang upside town on the high wire. It's all pretty responsive too, which is essential when you're attempting some of the, almost impossible, platforms involving moving balloons with the ground full of moving spikes.
The first thing that strikes you about Aero The Acrobat is just how much is going on in the levels; enemies coming from all directions, moving platforms, hoops on fire... It really is very impressive and the GBA takes the whole thing in its stride with no evidence of slowdown whatsoever. It?s also wonderfully designed and doesn't suffer from the type of repetitive level design that many platformers fall foul of. The cut screens, rendered in classic comic book style, telling the story of Aero's rise to fame, are very nice indeed although they have probably been bolted on as an afterthought seeing as they have little in common with the rest of the game?s visuals.
Although nothing outstanding, the music does manage to pace the on-screen action as well as being a reasonably good interpretation of the 16 Bit original. The sound effects too are well above average with all the beeps, bangs and whizzes just as you'd expect them to be.
Aero The Acrobat is undoubtedly one of the better platformers to appear on the GBA where, let's face it, there are plenty to choose from. The difference with Aero though is that, while on the surface it appears like any other run of the mill platformer, once you've spent even a little time with it you'll discover some truly engaging gameplay which always feels completely open thanks to the overall design. It can get a little frustrating at times due to some awkwardly placed spikes and the odd leap of faith that almost always spells certain doom but if you're a tired of your average platforming fodder then Aero the Acrobat could be just what you're looking for.
Pro: Lots of Variety
Con: Can be Tricky
Final score: 8.1
|Platform:||Game Boy Advance|
|Developer:||Atomic Planet Entertainment|