Greetings to the mortals.
As the proper name says, I’ll analyze the contrast between games and its covers to emphasize their contrast. In other words: I’ll show crap games with beautiful covers and vice versa. For the today’s premiere, one game that I’ve played a lot in my 8 bit childhood: Astyanax.
Here is the classic case of a game made in Japan that was launched in USA by a publisher which clearly didn’t know what was selling. By judging the illustration at first sight, we can notice the drawer’s horrible artist sense and his lack of talent. Observing the details we can ask ourselves if a hero would have this generic eighties Hollywood actor face, and if him could fight well with these short arms. Those who have played also have questioned themselves from where came that horrible logo and that constraining little yellow ray in the hero’s chest. Neither the worst Marvel super hero would have such esthetic sense.
Talking about playing, from where came that fat and generic dragon? The bosses which make appearances are much more inspired and threatening than that…thing. Besides, is a good question ask what that woman, which appearance is totally different from the original queen of the game, is doing in that bubble (or mirror, or glass shade…forget about it). Is she dancing the Macarena? Performing a bizarre stretching? Or maybe she’s just listening an ABBA’s hit. I’ll never know.
The gameplay is far better than its cover
Finally, speaking about the game itself, Astyanax is a good platform game released on the longing NES in 1990 (exactly the same year that I’ve got mine), where the greek young high school student named Astyanax (what a name…) listen a mysterious voice during his dreams asking for help. Until the day when he disappears, been transported to the kingdom of Remilia. In this magic world, the fairy Cutie appears, telling him that helpless voice of his dreams is from Rosebud queen. She was imprisoned by the wicked Blackhorn and his skull servant Thorndog. Then, Astyanax discover that have magic powers in that world, going face a journey with his golden axe, fighting against hordes of Blackhorn’s monsters. Ok, it’s not a prime script, although it was enough for a game from the 8 bit era.
With good graphics, diversified and well done sound track with cut scenes in a Ninja Gaiden style, explaining the game’s history accordingly to the player’s progression, Astyanax was a good game of it’s time. The playability was a little stiff and slow in certain moments, but did not compromise the game challenge, hard in the right proportion, without frustrating moments. It had a good variety of enemies, with skull zombies, flying eyes, slime monsters and all kind of bizarre creatures. The stages follow the same way with castles, swamps, mountain hills, caverns, etc.
With so many classics on the NES, Astyanax did not make much success even tough wasn’t an obscure game. It had its merits and faults, worth the price. What a shame it had that trash cover.