Astro Bot

Preview: Astro Bot – Charming, Funny, Downright Addicting

Astro Bot steps into the spotlight.

Astro Bot is one of the best mascots out there. Since being introduced as the lead in Astro Bot Rescue Mission, the cute little robot has become the face of Sony’s platform. When the PlayStation 5 launched in 2020, Sony packaged Astro’s Playroom with every console.

The tech demo was a highlight and one of the most memorable games from the PlayStation 5 launch period. Like many worldwide, I was enamoured with the potential Astro offered and was eager to see what Sony would do with the unofficial mascot for PlayStation.

Astro Bot is back and better than ever

Last month, during an episode of State of Play, Astro Bot closed out the show as we were introduced to a full-length platformer coming to console this September. The last two games featuring the cool blue and white robot were essentially limiting in nature as one was a VR title with limited reach, while Playroom was a sample of what could be. Now, we’re getting a full-fledged title with over 80 levels and a game that feels like a successor to Super Mario Galaxy.

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PlayStation Canada invited me to their headquarters to check out an exclusive demo of Astro Bot, and by the end of my time, I was eager to get my hands on the whole game. I had about 45 minutes to see what Team Asobi has been working on for the last few years, and it was an incredible sample of what’s to come.

Everything I experienced in under an hour felt incredible. The controls are perfect, and Astro Bot is responsive as I nailed every jump and platform gracefully and effortlessly. My demo featured five levels, which gave me a better understanding of what’s to come and why now feels like the perfect time for a platformer of this calibre to make its mark this year.

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Starting on the world map, Astro uses a spaceship resembling a DualSense called the Dual Speeder to fly around the galaxies. While most of the map was locked away during the demo, I could play within the red octopus galaxy’s Sky Garden. In my bid to arrive safely, the DualSense emitted tons of familiar sounds and noises, which played with the haptics and triggers of the controller. Astro must head out to save the PlayStation universe as he hops between various planets to find his friends.

Filled with moments of wonderment

Now, I’ve been a massive supporter of haptics since experiencing it with Playroom. I’m happy to report that what I had access to was a testament to what is possible with the right people pushing the technology. Whether I was engaging with a backpack jetpack, which was a blast to watch as Astro took off into the sky, or the frog gloves used to take on the demo boss, I was ecstatic to see how the controller would react in my hands with each new item I found. Team Asobi is still unmatched by DualSense’s implementation used in its games and somehow knows how to elevate the experience by making it more immersive.

I’m reminded that I’m in a timed demo, so I often gawk at the stunning visuals on screen. Take the boss, for example. His name is Wako Tako, and he’s weak to the frog gloves. I’m equipped to tackle the situation. The red octopus has several weak points that you’ll have to hit before the stage ends, but as the situation unfurls, new platforming sections are introduced that add depth to the boss fight.

I think the Wako Tako boss stage was a highlight of the entire demo. I spoke about the demo with Riley Little of Walmart Gaming Canada and Steve Vegvari from our podcast Creature Cast as we all experienced the demo. The unanimous feeling was that Team Asobi knew how to make giant spectacles that challenge players of all ages. I felt it immediately when taking on Wako Tako.

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I also had access to a few challenge levels, which would be the best middle group for older fans looking for a challenge. These levels were another highlight during my demo that left me eager for more challenge-based levels in the future.

One level tested my mettle while dodging abundant enemies flinging themselves my way, while the second challenge was keen to test my platforming prowess. I succeeded and finished both challenges, but the levels provided enough challenges that I didn’t see everyone breezing through the obstacles so quickly. Thankfully, you won’t need to stress too much, as any time you falter, you’re immediately brought back to where you were to press on with limited stress.

Having a measly hour with Astro Bot feels criminal. Team Asobi’s got something special in the works, and what I experienced left me stoked about the full launch on September 6. I’m sure that whatever we get will be a memorable experience, and Astro Bot has the makings of iconic characters despite how the developers see their characters.