Whenever I am reviewing games that are a part of a series, I always try my best to include as many entries as possible. The only ones I skip, are those that I have honestly nothing to say about and those that are impossible for me to acquire. With this in mind, Asterix at the Olympic Games takes a lot from the XXL-titles and was even made by the same developers, making it considered by fans to be the third entry in this series all the way until we actually got XXL 3. Because of this, I had a hard time skipping this one, despite its title stating otherwise. Although, there were red flags everywhere. Not only is this game based on the bad movie instead of the fun comic, but it also came out the same month as Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games did. Still no carpal tunnel yet, thank God!
Even questioning its own identity
This tale starts out by introducing us to Lovestorix, a man madly in love with Princess Irina who is to be married to Caesar’s rotten son, Brutus. After Lovestorix exclaims that he would do anything for her, Irina declares that the Olympic Games will determine who she will marry, which could have given him a slimmer of a chance. Sadly, Lovestorix quickly learns that he cannot compete in the games since he is not a Roman, crushing all of his hopes. This is the story Asterix tells Obelix before they go hunting, which will eventually serve as one of the plots in this title.
Yes, I said one of them. Our duo soon after meet a live-action Roman who is leaving a trail of dark masses behind him while training for the Olympics. If that was not strange enough, Getafix has turned into a paper cutout, representing the comic adaptation of him. Sam Shiefer is suddenly at the doorstep and explains that an evil man by the name of Doctormabus has discovered how to open portals to parallel worlds. So, now we got to both win the Olympic Games and stop this mad man.
Somehow, this story tries to combine three versions of Asterix & Obelix: the XXL games, the comic books, and the live-action movie. Yet, after the messy beginning with the three worlds colliding, there is hardly anything else to say about this setup. Nothing clever or interesting happens, with the minor events being those that you can see coming from miles away. Honestly, if this concept was taken out of the story completely, it would have detracted nothing. The same goes for Lovestorix and Irina, as their tale is just a forced and minimal attempt at adding romance to this plot.
Even with barely anything to offer, there are plenty of cutscenes included that change so much in style and production quality, that it could have been a fascinating mess to get indulged by. Unfortunately, it all becomes tiresome, since nothing significant or entertaining occurs. The style is also never enhanced by this mix of source materials, as they come off as poor excuses for having nice nods to them and nothing else. This setup truly feels shallow in every way, with strange scenes that make no sense. I think I lost it when I suddenly got a red card out of nowhere by a football judge.
The only thing I actually enjoyed in this story, was the banter between our heroes. They range between cute excuses for failing at a puzzle, talking about the scenery, and cracking jokes at each other’s expenses. Every dialogue is endearing and charming, with even some cutscenes providing a nice chuckle or two, such as when Lovestorix asks if Getafix is flat due to him being depressed. Sadly, the humour cannot carry a story that has nothing to tell, yet still forces in multiple expositions. That is an impressive form of bad storytelling.
Story Score: 2/10
Crushing all hopes
As soon as I started playing this game, I was severely intrigued! Asterix at the Olympic Games seems to be a beat’em up at first, where you can still punch and create combos, dash to stun enemies, send Dogmatix to bite fiends, and grab stunned Romans. However, there are so many more moves already available, that I thought this was going to be quite the challenging title. You can jump into either a ground stomp or face kick, hold enemies to slap them, punch them up into the air, swing them around, and even learn more abilities such as parrying attacks. This made for an exciting introduction, and you can even play this entire game in co-op!
Sadly, the fights themselves seem to have been an afterthought, as there are only a few types of enemies to encounter and they do not differ much from each other. There will be times where you have to throw enemies at targets or fix broken contraptions simultaneously, but neither add to the combat. This is because the fiends are easy to take out, especially with the ginormous moveset Asterix and Obelix already have. Some attacks are not even explained until the last part of the game, due to how little use you will get from them. I also question some upgrades, like the meter that keeps you from swinging enemies around for too long, since it refills so quickly that it might as well not be here.
It was not until the last fight that I had some fun by taking on hordes of Romans, but by then I had the strongest attacks and combos, taking away any challenge or tension this battle could have offered. I even forgot you could get strength potions in this game that are scattered around, as they were never needed despite making you stronger and giving you access to devastating combos for a short amount of time. It is a shame to say, but the combat in this title is completely lacklustre. Eventually, I just started to use the helmets I gathered from defeated foes and destroyed objects to pay for extra content instead of gaining new moves or buy boar meat to refill my health.
Then we have the hub world, which I also had high hopes for. It is mainly taking place in Olympia, but with a lot of hidden goodies to search out for. You can find shields for permanent upgrades to your health, glue for making Asterix stick longer to climbable surfaces, magnesia for being able to swing Romans around for longer, and pigeons for extra unlockables. Having a keen eye will be helpful, but it is also here where I saw a big problem with this title again. Instead of being designed for exploration, the areas contain plenty of hallways that are never structured interestingly. It is a strange mix of providing exploration, but making the world too linear for this concept to work.
This makes the puzzles you will encounter tedious and straightforward, despite that they have some decent setups to them, like pushing blocks into the correct locations. All are too easy to finish, and it makes everything you do underwhelming. Even the platforming cannot save this title. The duo can both double jump, and Asterix can hold onto specific ledges and jump between them. That is it, and there is not much difference between our protagonists, despite that you can change between them in singleplayer mode.
However, this game is very inconsistent with what will be required of you, as some areas barely give you enough breathing room to jump between areas, due to that you can only hold onto ledges for a specific amount of time. Yes, you have a timer for how long you can do this, and it does not add anything to the platforming except for creating a poor form of tension. I can only remember one time there was a decent setup with varied platforms to jump between, but it was barely noticeable and the rest of the platforming segments were simply shallow.
I believe there were a lot of cut corners due to the forced implementation of minigames you have to take on. Indeed, this is not really a beat’em up, but another minigame compilation from the glory days when Wii’s motion controls were all the rage. There are nine different ones in total and you have to do all of them at least once throughout the campaign. It is a strange form of halting the game with something completely different, but I suppose this was to be expected from a title with the Olympic Games as its main concept. Of course, we are going to look at all of them, but only through using the 360 controller. The Wii’s motion controls adds nothing here, other than sore arms.