Aero the Acro-Bat 2 Review by: TottsAero the Acro-Bat 2
Aero the Acrobat's left the circus. He's put the tent behind him for the freedom of the open road, seeking new experiences in the outside world â€“ but, sadly, the outside world just isn't as adventurous as bouncing under the big top back home.
Going into it, this 16-bit sequel from Sunsoft seems to offer about what you'd expect. Not a revolutionary departure from the original Aero adventure, but just a continuation of the Acrobat's same style of platforming play. With a different setting. Aero the Acrobat 2 ditches the signature circus scenery of the first game and swaps in, instead, a variety of much more generic levels that just don't have the same appeal as the trampoline-filled, trapeze-equipped, overcrowded-with-clowns stages we saw before.
Aero is still himself. He can still twirl through the air, spinning like a drill and tumbling around on a variety of interactive set pieces â€“ but it just feels like a lesser experience here. He hops around on gigantic gears in an old, crumbling tower â€“ the likes of which gamers in the mid-'90s had already seen several times in the Castlevania series. He trudges through drifts of snow in the requisite ice level, a staple of just about every other platformer developed in that same era. And even when he mixes things up with a special snowboarding stage, it just feels like a copy of the similar levels we saw elsewhere on the SNES, in Yoshi's Island.
(Though that game actually came out after this one, so the complaint is only valid in hindsight.)
Hitting the slopes.
But at least the levels look great. You can tell that the developers at Iguana Entertainment learned a new trick or two between the time of Aero 1's release and Aero 2's completion, as cool ambient effects, subtle details and parallax backgrounds give more depth and "pop" to several of the stages.
Aero's control also feels just a bit better, as keeping a handle on his many different types of movements was a challenge in the first game. There are still some cheap hits, and you'll still lose a life or two that will feel like more of the game's fault than your own. But it's a bit better.
And, lastly, there's a touch of new variety tossed in here. Another of the first Aero the Acrobat's strengths was that its level objectives were often varied â€“ in one you'd be boarding platforms, in the next you'd be collecting items. That exact structure isn't copied this time around, but there are moments when the relative monotony gets broken up.
There are the vehicle-based challenges like the snowboarding stage mentioned before, and then there's the Ektor cup game. For whatever reason, Aero the Acrobat's chief nemesis â€“ Mad Clown Edgar Ektor â€“ likes to show up and challenge you to rounds of the old classic cup game. (The one where there are three cups and one good item under one of them, and their positions get spun around and swapped quickly to try to trick your eyes into losing track of where the good one went.) It's even a pretty tough little mini-game, when it gets going at higher speeds.
Though any and all of these positive points, for me, this sequel is no rival as a better experience than its predecessor and that is saying a lot for its original outing as this is one great game.