People think I must be bored with writing about rubbish Wii games and things like RealPlay Golf and The Legend of Spyro: Unlikely to Get Funding for Another One. They are wrong. I am bored with playing them, usually within 90 seconds of booting them up. The latest pile of half-baked pisspoor old tat to land on my desk is no exception.
To be fair, Asterix at the Olympic Games manages to rise above the ranks of truly terrible to achieve mediocre status. But Samurai Warriors: Katana is silly and PDC World Championship Darts 2008 is tedious. The other games are called Cruis'n and Game Party. I need say no more. [Actually, you do. - Ed]
Asterix at the Olympic Games
As a long time Asterix fan I have tried out many of the videogame tie-ins over the years. Although none have been anything special, I've found some of them quietly enjoyable. Playing the other ones has been like having my golden memories of the comic books torn to shreds. Torn to shreds and fed to a tramp's dog who excretes them as loose and putrid stools which are then rubbed in my face. By Hitler.
Happily, Asterix at the Olympic Games falls into the former category [the one prior to the dog egg metaphor - Ed]. Despite the title, it's not a total rip-off of Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. Yes, there are mini-games based on Olympic events to compete in, and many of these are similiar to the mini-games in M&S. You waggle the controllers up and down to run, press B at the right time to perform a long jump and so on. However, the mini-games make up only a small part of the single-player adventure game.
This is a good thing as they are largely tedious, repetitive and tiring. They're slightly more fun in multiplayer but, compared to M&S, there's not a huge selection and the quality is poor. This isn't a great party game, in other words.
It's not a great single-player game either. There's nothing innovative about the gameplay; it involves a lot of running and jumping, punching and collecting, block-pushing and switch-pulling. Unless you're a child or an imbecile you won't find any of this very challenging and should breeze through the game in a few hours. And unless you're an Asterix buff, you won't get much out of it.
However, there are treats here for fans. The visuals are of a decent standard, in keeping the style of the books and featuring plenty of neat details. Exploring Asterix's world is fun because it looks like you'd expect it to. It's a bit of a shame the man himself has a strange jerky hop in his step and sounds like Albert Steptoe. It's also a shame about the pop-up and the fact Obelix, who can batter an entire legion of Romans with a single punch, cannot walk through foot-high bushes if they are the wrong colour. But you can't have everything.
You can have some quite good jokes, assuming you like puns ("You heard that Obelix? You have to show some finesse." "Finesse? I haven't started yet," etc.). There are some nice contemporary takes on traditional Asterix naming conventions - say hello to Neofrommatrix and Watchadivix. There's also a Splinter Cell spoof in the form of a character called Sam Schieffer who wears Roman-style night vision goggles.
Little touches like this elevate the game from being a dull if competent title to something fans of the books will enjoy, especially small ones. And even if you're big, Asterix at the Olympic Games is still better than having a tramp's dog's excrement rubbed in your face by Hitler. Go on Atari, put that on the box.