Astro Bot channels the pure game design of Nintendo, as PlayStation turns towards families

June 14, 2024
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Few games generated as much joy in the room of their Summer Game Fest demos as Astro Bot, the latest from Astro’s Playroom and Astro Bot: Rescue Mission developer Team Asobi. During my three quarters of an hour or so with Astro Bot I just about cleared all of its demo. I say “just about” because, while the main missions accessed from its galaxy-style menu were a family-friendly breeze, a couple of other hidden, bonus missions were far from it, offering a challenge to rival some PlayStation platformers of old (looking at you, Crash Bandicoot).

“This level in particular,” explains Nicolas Doucet, Asobi studio founder and creative director of Astro Bot, while noodling around in an early, flamingo-themed world, “we want it to be enjoyable for everyone – but potentially, for a very, very young child, we almost wanted it to be like a playground, and that would be the one thing they play.”

At the same time, he continues, “we’ve got to think about the difficulty curve and the challenge of the whole game, which is why outside of the main path leading to the boss, you have these extra challenges – and that’s where you find a lot of PlayStation characters too.” One of those characters, of course, is Bloodborne’s Lady Maria, something Doucet told me had “no secret meaning,” despite many fans’ hopes it might be some kind of hint at a much-desired Bloodborne sequel, remaster, or PC port.

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