Review by JDeLuna

Reviewed: 11/01/99 | Updated: 11/01/99

A wonderful, beautiful game...that's painfully short.

Now the Saturn is know for few quality games. Which was it's eventual downfall. But if you look hard enough, there are some gems. Like Astal. It's your standard side-scrolling action title. But the attention to the graphics and sound make this an experience like no other. The are Astal, an elf-like creature. You and your people were born from crystals and given a paradise homeworld. But, an evil demon has warped that world, and taken your girlfriend!! It's up to you to track down the devil, find your lost love, and save your world. I know, I know, it's a cliched story if there ever was one. But it's the *game* that counts. And Astal comes through. It pushes the Saturn to the limit in both graphics and sound. My only complaint is that it's *painfully* short. If Astal was twice as long, we'd have a classic.

GRAPHICS: Astal can only be discribed as a moving storybook. It really conveys the fantasy theme with lush coloring and unique creatures. What I really like is the fact that none of the enemies look unappealing. None of them are hideous or outright disgusting. Which only adds the feeling your inside a children's story. There's only one minor flaw. Several points in the game use zooming effects that just look out of place, and can be *quite* disorienting. But they're few and far between. ***3/4

SOUNDS: Ah...I could listen to this game all day. The whimsical music is perfect. And the voice actors are very convincing. Unlike many Saturn games, the translation from Japanese to English make sense. The sound effects are equally well done, even Astal's yelps and screams are cute, but not annoying. ****

CONTROL: Simple and effective. Jump button, attack button, and that's it. Press down and attack, and Astal can lift and toss objects. There's not much to learn, but you *must* master everything to survive. I'm especially impressed that Astal doesn't have any of the "instant death" spots that plague so many action titles. ****

REPLAY: Like any other action game, Astal get's kinda dull after you beat it. The short nature of the game doesn't help either. But, you *do* find yourself playing over and over none the less. Mainly just to "watch" the game's beautiful scenery. **1/2

Well...what can I say? Astal's one of the rare must-have games on the Saturn. It's a shame the ole Sega Workhorse didn't last long enough to provide a sequel. As it stands though, Astal is definately a great action game.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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