Release Date: November 30th 2018
Price as of Article: $49.99, £44.99
Game code provided by Maximum Games
Written by René Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo, Asterix & Obelix originally saw life as a comic in France back in 1959, where it quickly gained massive popularity in Europe especially, and has since spawned everything from cartoons to live action movie adaptions and, of course, video games. One of these, and the subject of today’s review, is Asterix & Obelix XXL 2. Originally titled Asterix & Obelix XXL 2: Mission: Las Vegum when it was developed for the PS2 by French Étranges Libellules, the game later saw a remake on Nintendo DS and PSP, and has now been faithfully remastered for the Nintendo Switch by OSome Studio.
As is commonly the problem for the brave Gauls, the Romans are seeking to seize them once again, though this time they are rumored to possess a power far greater than even that of Getafix’s magic potion. Our dear ol’ druid is then seen discussing this matter with three other druids, only for Caesar and his men to ambush them on Getafix’s command. Is Getafix in league with Caesar now?!
Meanwhile, back in the Gaul village, Vitalstatistix is discussing this matter with his two trusted warriors, Asterix & Obelix, and tasking them to go to Las Vegum, where Getafix was last seen, to investigate the matter further and get to the bottom of it!
Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 is an adventure, puzzle-platformer, beat-em-up (say that five times fast), and as a game originally released back in the PS2’s prime day of 3D platformers – back when games like Jak and Daxter, Rachet and Clank, and Sly Cooper ruled the media – it reminds you of a better time where games like this were still being made with effort.
Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 is fast paced and colourful, with some sequences being loaded with fiendish Romans who need a good old beating till their socks fly off. Asterix & Obelix both sport a simple but satisfying set of attacks that makes short work of any opposing forces, while other sequences are just you taking your time to figure out a puzzle that is going to open the door to the next stage.
As is the tradition in gaming, you start out with three lives, which can then be upgraded to four, five, etc. at shops that are scattered about the game’s world. Here you can also buy upgrades that count for both heroes, like hitting harder, stunning the Romans for longer, as well as new moves for when you drink a magic potion. Yes, the infamous potion that makes one near invincible does make an appearance in the game, but it is not something you have on you and can activate when in a pinch, rather you find it at certain spawning points where only one will be available until you leave the area and come back. I get that being able to use it at your leisure would be gamebreaking, as you can literally mow down entire legions single-handedly for the short period it lasts – which, let me tell you, is one of the greatest and most adrenaline fueled moments in the game – but I feel maybe it could have been a bit less situational.
While the face buttons control Asterix & Obelix’s moves, you can, at any time during gameplay, switch between the two with a push of the R button. In combat, whomever you fight as is purely left up to your preference: Asterix is smaller and punches faster, while Obelix has a bit of wind-up to his fists. Sometimes, you will also see a certain ”gift” icon appear above the head of certain Romans, accompanied by a button combination list in the corner of the screen. When you see this, it will tell you which of the two heroes the combo is for and, if executed correctly, performing it will lead Asterix, Obelix – or both of them, as there are combos that allow them to work together – to even bigger combos and money bonuses.
Other than that, you do a normal combo by mashing Y repeatedly, you jump with B, double jump by pressing it twice, stomp the ground by pressing A while airborne, and dash by pressing A when on the ground. If the weaker Romans come into contact with you while you are doing either your ground stomp or your dash, they will get dazed, and at this time you can then pick them up with Y. By default, this will cause Asterix or Obelix to swirl the Roman above their head, damaging any Roman who is in the vicinity, but you can also use said Roman as a whip by pressing Y, do a fatal ground smash by jumping, or hurl them at the tougher enemies by pressing the X button. The latter will come into play a lot, as some objectives will have you hurl enemies into a bulls-eye repeatedly in order to open a nearby door or end a mini game.
The currency in Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 is, what else, Roman helmets, and these come in two varieties: regular ones that are worth a single point, and golden centurion ones that are worth 10. Furthermore, each stage also has a set of illusive crystal helmets that you are encouraged to collect for hidden rewards.
The game throws numerous Romans at you, and that is good because it not only keeps the game from getting stale, but you are also going to need every single one of those helmets, as upgrades and figurines get very expensive very quickly. Also, should the Romans not sate your hunger for helmets, Crash Bandicoot-like crates are stacked everywhere, and these will respawn every time you come back to an area.
If you still feel short on money, or you just can’t get enough of whacking those pesky Romans into next week, each main area will have a signpost where you can trigger a gauntlet mini game. Here, an overdose of Romans will swarm you, and you are then rewarded accordingly for how many you are able to take out within a certain timeframe.
I do wish they had taken a page from Zelda regarding lives, though, as I am not a big fan of buying my life upgrades but would rather have them rewarded to me for good gameplay or beating a boss. As an added defence, you can also collect up to three shields at a time, that each take four hits for you, before your precious hearts are on the line. Should you fall in battle, however, fret not, as the game autosaves quite often, so you will never be sent very far back. There are no game overs either.
Speaking of bosses, aside from the obvious battle against Caesar, they are all the same big gladiator guy, only the way to defeat him is different every time. While I appreciate the variation in strategy, I do wish the developers had taken some of the immense creativity put into the enemies and levels, and shown the bosses some love. You do fight Larry Craft at one point, but his fight is relegated to a mook rush, where you fight other Romans along with him. For as much attention as the game gives him as Caesar’s right hand man, I do wish they had given him a more unique boss battle.
Another thing that could have used some fine tuning is the camera. While not the worst I have ever seen, it can easily get caught on objects like trees or have a hard time following you around tight corners. Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 is one of those games where the camera feels like a physical object following you around, rather than a disembodied entity. It obscured my vision in the heat of battle a number of times, but it is also not so bad that I would in any way call it gamebreaking – it is just an occasional inconvenience to keep in mind.
Also, in the outfit section of the menu, you will also find a cute little nod to the classic comics. At any time, you can freely switch between Asterix & Obelix as they appear in this action game, and how they appear in the original comics. I think both have their charm, but how often do you get to see Asterix with super saiyan hair?
While I won’t necessarily classify the music in Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 as especially “Asterix-y”, it does set the mood for an intense action platformer and every time the Romans show up, the music kicks up the beat to really get your blood pumping. Not particularly memorable, but it’s not bad either, so all in all, I feel it serves its purpose.
That voice acting though, yeah, you knew I was going to touch on this. Now, I grew up on Asterix & Obelix in Danish with good ol’ Ove Sprogøe – God rest his soul – as Asterix, and so this game is quite literally the first time I have ever heard the characters perform in English. So, first of all, the voices were never going to live up to my biased childhood, but I also can’t say if the English voices live up to the British version of the show. That said, everyone performs generally well, and there are some chuckle-worthy jokes thrown in for good measure. Especially from my man Caesar, who, despite his powerful position, is often quite the comedian. It’s not all good, though; some of the forced accents can really get cringy too. In Danish, they never gave the characters accents and, looking back, I think it worked better for it.
Visuals & Performance
When I first laid eyes on this game back in 2006, my first thought was ”what on Earth is Mario doing on a PS2 cover?”. That’s right, throughout the entire game, you will catch glimpses of several famous video game nods, easter eggs, and references. Not just relegated to Nintendo games, but other platforms as well. Whether it be Romans who are literally dressed up to look like Mario from Super Mario Sunshine, a Roman dressed as Lara Croft, Romans dressed up as Sonic the Hedgehog accompanied by a certain ring sound when you beat them, or the more ”subtle” ones like Space Invaders on Egyptian murals or statues of Pikmin. From a visual aspect, this game could literally be called the little brother to Kingdom Hearts, and these are just a few examples as I want you to experience the rest for yourself, and gawk in awe as you wonder where the line goes between reference and lawsuit.
In all seriousness though, I love all these nods to pop-culture in a slapstick beat ’em up like this that clearly doesn’t take itself seriously. Now, I watched a lot of Asterix & Obelix cartoons as a kid as mentioned before, and naturally, none of them had the duo fight Sonic or Lara Croft, yet this game works perfectly fine being the sort of cross-over adventure beat-’em-up that it is. Asterix and his world is still the main focus, and I don’t think it loses any of its identity because of this. It is kind of surreal to see Asterix characters interact with all of these outside elements, but the game still manages to deliver a convincing story that you feel could have easily been the set of the actual cartoon.
Other than that, the game is bright and colourful and perfect for the kids. It ran smoothly all throughout my playthrough, and only once did I ever have it crash on me.
It’s not often that you can genuinely recommend licensed games, but a lot of love, care, and detail obviously went into this one, and while perhaps a bit rough around some edges, it never takes away from the experience. I loved my time going through it as an adult, and I am sure I would have 10 years ago, too. At $49.99/£44.99 it is certainly a bit steep for an old re-release – I mean not even today’s remasters or HD remakes reach these prices – but if you can stomach it, I promise you won’t regret what you get, as this game offers true quality for money of a bygone era.
I should mention that since the series has only really had major success in Europe, the original PS2 game was only released here, and this is still the case with the physical version of this remaster – which is even available in a sweet Collector’s Edition that comes with a fantastic figurine of Asterix. However, thanks to the evolution of digital distribution, the game is readily available to anyone on the eShop.
Super fun beat ’em up
Tons of cool gaming references
Camera could be better
More varied music
Story could have been a bit better