Astro Boy is one of the most satisfying action games to come out on the GBA in a long time.

User Rating: 9 | Astro Boy: Tetsuwan Atom - Atom Heart no Himitsu GBA
Astro Boy is one of the most pleasant surprises that has come up on the Game Boy Advance this year. It focuses around the efforts of Astro, a robot created at a time when Earth's human population is at odds with it’s robot population. Throughout the game, Astro's goal is to find a way to create peace between the two sides and unite the world. The entire game is based around his efforts to do so, and the adventures that result from them. The gameplay revolves mainly around a few simple moves. Astro can punch, kick, and shoot his enemies with a laser beam. There are also two special moves that he can perform at any time: a machine gun that covers the entire screen with bullets, and a massive laser beam. Both of these attacks have a limited number of uses, but you can regain power for them by combating enemies with Astro's other techniques. Enemies themselves attack with different physical and projectile moves. Usually you'll find yourself swarmed by your foes, which will force you to adjust to the combat system very quickly. Fortunately, it's simplicity makes learning how to use it effectively very easy, and since you're allowed to continue an unlimited number of times there's plenty of room for error. There are also a few flying stages that have been spread about the game's different worlds. In each of them you must use your laser beam and super moves as your only weapons. Like the rest of the stages, these put a heavy emphasis on combat and not much else. Still, they work very well and provide a nice break from the game's normal stages. The entire game is very story-driven. The game's plot actually continues after you beat the game once, meaning that you'll have to play through it twice to see how things turn out for Astro and his friends. You'll even have to travel back and forth to different stages to meet different characters to help advance the plot along. Some of them are in hiding, and others must be spoken to in a certain order to make the plot advance. Talking to different characters is also important in that it allows you to power up Astro's abilities. You'll have to talk to almost every character in the game to max out Astro's abilities, and once you've done so you'll be able to truly finish everything. The game's graphics are very nice. Everything has a highly detailed and intriguing look to it. Some areas have moving characters in their backgrounds, and sometimes it seems as though every single part of the stage is moving at once. The game's characters also look wonderful. All of the enemies and bosses are drawn gorgeously. However, there is sometimes a bit of slowdown when you attack multiple enemies at once, and this can make everything slow down to a crawl at times. You may appreciate this a bit as it gives you a split second to relax and plan another move, but it's really more of a problem than anything else. Slowdown aside, the rest of the game's visuals are great. The game's sound is quite good. The music is very nice, though rather forgettable. The game's sound effects are also done very well. There are a few voice samples scattered about the game, usually for when a character takes damage or performs some sort of special action. The sound effects work well for the most part, and add quite a bit to the game's cartoony feel. Overall, Astro Boy is a very solid purchase for the GBA. It will please you even if you aren't familiar with it's source material, and it's storyline should hold your interest enough to make it worth your time to play through it twice. It's a sleeper hit to be sure, but you should still put forth the effort to pick this game up. It's one of the best new games that you can buy on the GBA.