Astyanax (NES)

Astyanax Box Art


System: NES

Release Date: March 1990

Developer: Aicom

Publisher: Jaleco

Genre: Action

Astyanax is one of those games that I’ve had for a long time, but I haven’t ever sat down to play. Turns out, it’s a different kind of game than I expected. You’re plagued with visions of a lady in need of help. You’re transported from high school to the land of Remlia to save Princess Rosebud. Seven rounds of action await you as you swing, jump, and kill your way to battle the evil wizard Blackhorn.

This is a side scrolling action platformer. You typically move to the right and swing your weapon with the B Button. Astyanax begins equipped with an axe that does a medium amount of damage, but can find an upgrade to a spear, which does low damage, and finally a sword, which does the most damage. Before you swing, a power meter on the bottom of the screen fills up. You can hack away with weaker shots, or bide your time for a strong one. You can increase the size of the power bar by collecting power supply items.

Astyanax also has magic that can be cast by pressing up + the B Button. These are scrolled among while the game is paused. The first is Bind (31:45), which freezes enemies for a few seconds. The second, Blast, is a strong radius attack (15:10). Bolt is the strongest of all the spells, it hits everything on screen (22:35). The spell power and how much energy it takes is dependent on the weapon you’re holding. The spear is the weakest, followed by the axe, and the sword.

At the end of each round is a boss battle. These aren’t too terribly difficult, but only once you learn their pattern. Dying sends you back to the beginning of the level, which isn’t a big deal, except in Round 4, which is the most difficult of all. Health replenishing powerups come too little and too late and there are a lot of enemies that are difficult to avoid.

Between the rounds, you’re treated to a cut scene which furthers the story along. These are nice, but not of the same quality as Ninja Gaiden. There is a sacrifice that is supposed to be touching, but poor writing kind of takes away the gravity of the situation. The final boss is a pushover and you’re rewarded with a three minute ending cinematic for your troubles.

Graphics: 3.0

The cut scenes look good, but the colors are odd. The levels look good, but the Astyanax sprite is the worst of the bunch.

Sound: 2.5

The music in round 1 is pretty great, the rest is fine, but not up to that quality.

Gameplay: 2.0

Astyanax isn’t very maneuverable. He’s slow and avoiding enemies is a struggle. Magic isn’t used much if you have the sword.

Difficulty: 2.5

The first few levels are a breeze, then you get a difficulty spike which takes awhile to get through.

Fun Factor: 2.5

I had a good enough time with Astyanax to play through the whole thing.

Overall Grade: 2.5

Astyanax earns a B-. This is a game that I can recommend to give a play to. It doesn’t take too long and it’s a decent time.

Astyanax Video Review on YouTube