Monday, July 1, 2013

The Retro Video Game Addict reviews: Astyanax for the NES!

     Ever hear of a fun little side scrolling arcade port for the NES called Astyanax? Well if you haven't before than you certainly have now. This little gem is one of those games that I knew existed back in the heyday of the NES but yet I never really had a chance to sit down and play it until now, but let me tell ya', I was really missing out on some fun side scrolling hack n' slash for all these years.
     Astyanax is very similar to games like Casltevania in that it's a side scroller that focuses on killing enemies and making it to the end of the level while collecting power up's and other such things along the way. It features very nice graphics for the NES and I would say that graphically it's one of the nicer games to come out during the early 90's for the system, definitely better than many other games that were out at the time. It's fun too, if not a little frustrating at times thanks to obsticals that almost force you to take damage unless you pull off a fancy move or know the patterns of every enemy in the game. But this is heavily steriotypical of many Nintendo games of that era. But it doesn't hinder your experience with the game very much and difficulty can be a good thing if it's not in your face with bizarre obstacles and insane enemies.
     The bosses in this game are kind of neat, they're not overly hard but some of them can take an absurd
amount of hits before you kill them, but if you take the time to learn their patterns and strategy than they're not too difficult. The levels themselves aren't too long either and some feature mini-bosses that are fun and interesting, you'll actually have to face them all a second time because before you make it to the final boss you're put into a gauntlet where you have to challenge them all one after another. It's the most frustrating and difficult part of the game because there is little in the way of spell and/or health potions during this time, but they make sure to fill you up before you face the final 2 bosses of the game. Yeah, you read that correctly, there are actually 2 main bosses in the game that must be challenged one after another. I can see why this would happen because this is based off of the arcade game and games manufactured for the arcade are meant to drain you of your quarters and are usually insanely hard. So it's to be expected that the boss battles toward the end of the game are Taylor made to bleed you dry with little to no help.
    To some people, all these insane boss battles may deter them from trying the game out but I really didn't think it was overly excessive and if you're playing the game with the help of Game Genie than you should be all set. It just becomes a matter of time before you make it on through. But for those who are not using Game Genie than I suggest you learn the patterns of the boss fights as good as you can and save up you're spells because you're going to need them. Also, time you're jumps and make sure no enemies are near the ledges that may pop up and kill you, they're everywhere in this game and you know what that means. Classic Nintendo bounce back upon taking a hit which will cause you to lose a life from falling into a pit. Fuck.
   One big gripe with this game I do have is that the enemies are pretty repetitive throughout the course of making your way through the levels. You'll run into skeletons constructed of every color in the rainbow, the same plant-like creatures that crowd the edges of pits that will cause you to fall down, and other similar bugs and things that fly around that you'll notice you've already faced in previous levels. I guess it's just the way it is with this game, but the experience of making your way through the game is enjoyable so it didn't hinder my view on Astyanax much at all but it would have been nice to have more exciting enemies to fight along the way.
     Other than the repetitive enemies I really enjoyed my time with this game, I'm a big fan of arcade ports as well as side scrolling hack n' slash titles so Astyanax was right down my alley. It's just a shame that I missed out on it for all these years, though. I do remember in 1995 going into a Funcoland and seeing it on the price sheet and thinking it sounded interesting, but when I asked to see the cart the guy working behind the counter told me it wasn't that good of a game and that I'd be better of getting some other game for the Genesis that was similar but with better graphics. Goes to show you that you shouldn't always take the advice of the sales clerk because not only did I not get Astyanax on that day but I ended up going with his recommendation and the game he sold me was utter crap. Oh well, you live and you learn.
     All in all the graphics and the control in Astyanax are stellar with large and well detailed characters and amazing cut scenes for the time, as well as tight mechanics that make it a smooth experience to play. In my opinion this is a gem that everyone should have in their NES library because it's one that houses some very enjoyable elements, it's definitely on par and surpasses many side scrolling action/adventure games that appeared on the NES at the time. The game, much like many NES titles, also has some incredibily awesome music that help with the experience and make playing through the levels an absolute joy. There was just something about the NES and the music that it was able to produce that has become legendary in the eyes of many retro gamers, it's just something to behold.
     As of this writing the game can be found for as cheap as $3 or so from local video game stores and as cheap as $5 or so on eBay, so give it a whirl and see for yourself if you're up for the challenge. Astyanax is most certainly worth it.

Graphics/Visuals – 9.0
Sound/Music – 8.5
Control/Handling – 8.5
Fun/Enjoyment – 8.5

© 2013 Bill Mulligan


  1. Nice review man, Unfortunately I have to use roms and emulators since my NES is erratic at best (25 years of heavy use will do that!) Most my cartridges are still in pretty good shape though.

  2. Ever think of a clone NES system? They hold up well and can be had for cheap. :) Happy gaming.

  3. Uhmm, I've never really heard of a clone NES actually. Is it an "un-official" console? Where can I get one? I try to always check yard sales and flee markets for NES's but its rare I see one, and they are always in pretty poor condition.

    When I was in college a teacher had a pristine NES with a zapper and a powerglove (..its so bad...). I offered 100 bucks and she said "No" lol.

  4. Look at an earlier blog post I did on here about the Retro Entertainment System. Also, look for the Retro Duo, Retron 3, Retron 5, and the Generation NEX, all of which are great clones. :)

  5. Thanks a lot for the info man! Emulators are ok but there is always a problem with music skipping and slowdown (usually when making a hard jump lol)

  6. you see rvga does not batch games instead he point out the facts.... RVGA the best! :0

  7. Finally got around to checking this game out after your reccomendation. Would have done sooner but I had to satisfy my ocd by beating Dracula's curse every which way first.

    Astyanax...what a shame. I thought it had some of the best visuals I've seen for a NES game, a solid music score, and the type of story that I would have really dug when I was younger. It also has some fatal flaws unfortunately.

    The controls are terrible, I can accept bs deaths in castlevania and ninja gaiden with an eery stoic calm, but this..

    The character sprite is way too big also, makes it even easier to get hit. Reminds me of the old Castlevania arcade game, where the made the sprite bigger (so you get hit more) in an effort to rob every kid of their last quarter lol.

  8. Id never heard of this before, clearly I was missing out! Theres a lot of unknown genius on the Nes, as my collection as a child was mainly Mario or Zelda based!