I am not really sure how to present this title. It is clearly one that wishes to celebrate gaming as a culture by taking references from everywhere and putting them all into one single project. However, I barely heard anything about this sequel and have no other memories of it other than the worthless DS port. Then it got rereleased with HD graphics for current gen consoles in 2018! I was always puzzled as to why the second game got a remake first, but decided to get it and give it a go after reviewing the first entry. After the credits rolled for Asterix & Obelix XXL 2, I still did not know what to fully make of it.
When you cannot be original, pun it
In a meeting between four druids from different parts of Europe, we witness “Getafix” turning traitor to his fellow men and having them captured by Caesar’s army. A Roman traitor by the name of Sam Shiefer sees this, and warns Asterix, Obelix, and the village’s chief about what has happened. Asterix has a hard time believing their wizard would do anything like this, and sets out with Obelix and their dog, Dogmatix, to figure out what is going on and save the druids. The only clue they have to go by, is that they will find all the answers they seek in Caesar’s new theme park; Las Vegum.
This basic plot never evolves with interesting events or structure, making it clear that the story is not a focus and only here to give a simple excuse for our heroes to go on another adventure. However, Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 does include plenty of cutscenes that have some decent comedic moments to them, like cute slapstick. Humour is subjective, but I believe it hits a good note here and none of the jokes overstay their welcome. It is also genuinely funny to hear the small banters and sarcasms between our duo while playing, providing a sweet chemistry between them.
Unfortunately, it is hard to notice these nice moments, since this title completely lacks personality within the ares you are visiting. This theme park includes tons of references to other games, both subtle and in your face. However, there is never a clever reason for their inclusion, as you will witness Rayman soldiers, Donkey Kong barrels, hieroglyphs of Sims, logos inspired by Mortal Kombat, Pikmin statues and even more bizarre references, like one to The Matrix of all things.
This makes Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 a mess in style and setup, as it never becomes a theme park with memorable set pieces, but rather a place with strange references that are all over the place and forgettable. It tries to appeal to every gamer through this concept, which is impossible to do. Some ideas are neat, like the martial artist Romans parodying Ryu from Street Fighter or the annoying Pablos that are inspired by Mario with F.L.U.D.D. from Sunshine. Sadly, these creative ideas are less present and the game becomes a tiresome ride with references being thrown in everywhere for no good reason.
Story Score: 3/10
Throwing some aimless punches
After selecting which of the three difficulties suits you the best, you are set in a linearly structured beat’em up, with some variety outside of the fighting mixed in. This entry tries to improve upon its predecessor’s combat, as while you can still punch and create combos, dash, send Dogmatix to bite Roman butts, and grab stunned enemies to swing them around, there are more abilities and functions at disposal for adding some more flavour to your moveset.
Your dash attack is now used for stunning opponents and breaking shields, making it have diverse uses and more aggressive ones at that. Even grabbing enemies has now more abilities to be followed up by, as while you will still be swinging your opponents around and can hurl them up into the sky, you can also now use them as a whip, throw them at other enemies or perform other combos, like a body slam. Yes, there are more moves at disposal through button combinations, including a stomp attack to stun multiple foes with.
Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 provides you with plenty of options on how to take out enemies, making it fun to experiment with the different attacks and abilities you have or can acquire. What is then a shame, is how lacklustre most of the opponents are. You will come across enemies shooting projectiles, holding shields or needing a but stomp to disappear, but they do not differ enough from each other or come in big enough groups to be exciting enough to fight against. It is not until the last part of the game where a good variety of fiends to tackle at once will happen continually, making the combat unfortunately become shallow at times.
The worst part is one boss fight that is repeated throughout the game three times, and barely changes between them by always having simple and boring patterns to learn. It is almost as dreadful as the turret sections that contains no creativity to them, but at least they are short. Not everything is bad though, as some fights will add in some entertaining ideas, like throwing Romans at targets. There are also other neat inclusions to the combat, such as how making combos will fill up your heat meter to do more damage or how you can do presented combos on highlighted enemies in order to get some extra goodies. These ranges in either multiply for the helmets’ value or power-ups.
Power-ups return from the first game, which include boar meat for refilling health, temporary shield that you can have a maximum three of, and strength potion that makes you hit hard and able to do specific combos for a short amount of time. Helmets you find from defeated foes, crates or scattered around the levels, can be used at shops for purchasing healing items or upgrades to your characters, like stronger stats or more moves. All of these adds to make our heroes impressive forces to be reckoned with, had it not been for the unengaging enemies.
You can switch between Asterix and Obelix with the click of a button, but they do not differ at all in combat, to the point that they even share the same health bar. This mechanic is rather used for puzzles, and while there are potentials with our duo, these segments usually boil down to simple setups. Asterix can go through small gaps, while Obelix can smash hard doors to name a few examples. It is pretty blatant what will be required of you, but there are a few puzzles that are solid, such as finding switches by exploring an area or pushing bombs through corridors while taking on fiends. These are far from good brain-teasers, but even the poor ones are at least quickly over.
I can honestly say the same about the platforming, as you have a double jump at disposal and not much else to take into consideration. This is where Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 disappoints, as it is quite bland with its variety, and the combat becomes quickly repetitive. There are plenty of nice upgrades to our heroes’ moveset, but the levels are never interestingly designed around them. In fact, this title even suffers here as you will have to backtrack to certain locations in order to proceed to the next one, which can be confusing without a solid map. Thankfully, Dogmatix will point you to areas you should visit and you can fast travel between tourist maps, which help you from becoming completely lost.
Then we have bizarre elements that I never understood why were implemented, like instantly respawning helmets and power-ups whenever you revisit an area, slot machines that are never rewarding, levels being all over the place in quality, and nothing truly progressing in difficulty or variety. I hate being this negative, as there are some fun to be had with the combat and exploration, but with such underwhelming designs in levels and enemies, this game leaves a lot to be desired. An example of one step forward and two steps back.
Gameplay Score: 4/10
A dilapidated park
Being set in a theme park, Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 has a lot of potential for being imaginative, and there are some intriguing ideas implemented. Small village huts acting as gift shops, the pirate island with a treasure cave, and the Egyptian area presenting a pyramid to go through, are all examples of good concepts being included here. However, none of the locations have enough set pieces to make them become fascinating structurally, except for the occasional neat decorations and enemies referencing other games. However, even they only add a small surprise and nothing impactful, as they are clumsily thrown into the stages.
I was quite shocked when I suddenly saw Maximo’s sword in the background or one of the main villains dressed up as Lara Croft for no real reason. It all feels confusing, and I simply wish they were better utilised to make them feel more like a part of this world. For example, Pablo could have been a gardener in a maze to give his getup a believable reason for existing. I also hate when the puns are too closely connected to our modern day setting and hurt the overall atmosphere, like how the coliseums are just football arenas.
To give some credit, I am impressed by how well the developers tried to represent the Romans based on other characters, like how Roman Sonics uses the classic ring effect when getting hit or Ruy’s slow knockout being replicated to the teeth by the martial artist Romans. Sadly, these are lovely details mixed in a ton of unoriginal and repetitive areas. I also believe this is further damaged by the strangely washed out graphics, as they make the game look less colourful despite the amount of different ones being used.
The original costumes for Asterix and Obelix clash with the new aesthetics, but I am happy you can change out to their new designs. They are a different take, but I love the more detailed and rough looks for our duo that fit this over the top entry. Furthermore, the combat is visually satisfying with cartoony and stretchy characters that make every attack feel devastating, and you can even punch fiends out of their footwear, which is neat detail from the comics.
Unfortunately, there is no personality here when everything is relied upon making puns and references to other games at an inconsistent rate. There should have instead been a focus on using this concept in clever ways in order to create an interesting and memorable theme park. At the very least, the cutscenes look nice and can be displayed in either their original format or stretched out. The models can be a bit stiff in these scenes, but are still charming with good camera work.
While there is not much voice acting to speak of, what is here is good and everyone makes sure their lines are delivered humorously and on point. The audio in general is superb, thanks to the powerful punches and satisfying throws being immersive and effective. Even the sounds that are nods to other titles are neat and quite accurate, making me believe this was done by people who are into gaming themselves.
Although, the music is all over the place. There is one track that have strong uses of instruments and buildup by containing lovely trumpets and violins, making it feel like you are about to take on a giant adventure. However, it is a tune used a lot throughout the game, with the rest of the melodies being either strange versions of that one song or are just terribly repetitive tracks. Some even made me mute the TV because of how tedious they quickly got from lacking variety in notes and structure.
However, some of the battlefield themes are such surreal forms of metal and electronic, that they are legitimately hilarious to listen to. In the end, it is a bizarre soundtrack that is truly lacking personality as well, since none of the stages have unique themes or setups. Which basically sums up the presentation as a whole. There is clearly passion behind this project, but not through memorable creativity.
Presentation Score: 5/10
Something to look at
Each location has four postcards and five diamond helmets hidden around, which are actually fun to look after. While a couple are out in the open, some will require you to have a keen eye and look in every corner or do a puzzle in order to acquire them, which add to the exploration. They do not reward you with much, but the pictures on the postcards can at least be worthy of a chuckle. Although, I do not understand the purpose of the figurines of the game’s characters that you can buy. They look neat, but are practically useless.
Scattered throughout are also challenges to take on, and these are immensely engaging! They revolve around knocking out as many enemies as possible and collect enough helmets to fill a criteria, within a limited amount of time. Thanks to plenty of different opponents to be mindful of, I was always on the edge of my seat and excited to take on all of these challenges. Sadly, there is a lack of rewards even here, which make the triumphs underwhelming. However, everything is entertaining to do and even counting all the references is a cute distraction due to the sheer amount of them.
Extra Score: 7/10
At best, this is a completely average game that feels lost in its attempts at fixing the previous entry’s shortcomings, but forgets to build a world around the new inclusions. Because of this, Asterix & Obelix XXL 2 has a strange identity crisis that I do find admirable, but forgettable. It is kinda similar to going to a theme park under renovation: there are some fun to be had, but it is far from a fulfilling experience overall.