What You’ve Missed: Astal

Released: 1995
Platform: SEGA Saturn
A victim of timing.
A victim of timing.

Allow me to tell you about a game that is short, imperfect, and by no means a game you should skip on if you ever run into it. This game is known as Astal For the Sega Saturn.

Why you missed it:
The game came out circa 1995. Assuming you were making sure you had no part on the platfoming dumpster that occurred during that era, you more than likely decided you were not going to touch this game. Granted, not because you KNEW it was bad, but because after playing games like Awesome Possum, you reserved the platforming duties to games you could trust, such as Donkey Kong Country 2, Sonic & Knuckles, Super Mario World 2, and other big ticket platform games that you knew were going to be worth your dollars.

astal_1Why you need to play it:
I’m going to give you the bad right off the bat; Astal is short, and by short, I mean SHORT. This is by no means a bad quality though, as the game itself has qualities that make it stand on its own, while borrowing and spinning off from other franchises (in my opinion). For example, the basis of the game is “main character must rescue important female figure from evil villain”, in this case, one that goes by the name of Leda (there’s a pretty good story behind how these two characters came to be, but I won’t ruin it for you).

Just as any other platformer of this period, the controls are simple and easy to get accustomed to, even though it may feel a bit on the clunky side as it’s aged. Astal has many abilities, including being able to stun enemies when punching the ground, picking up enemies and objects to hurl them, and the ability to inhale air in order to exhale and blow enemies off the screen.

So far, it sounds like a typical and standard platformer. That’s a fair statement to make, but the one thing that I believe tied everything together extremely well was the visual world Sega created. For a game of it’s time, its a visual wonder, way ahead of what I remember any other games in terms of artistic vision, excluding Rayman for the Atari Jaguar (see, I don’t hate the system THAT much) and the excellent Super Mario World 2.

astal_4As a package, the game is worth your time. Coming from an era that was full of platformer flops, Astal really does shine. Yes, its aged. Yes, its flawed, and not insanely original. But it really works, and its worth your time.

Look it up, and give it a play. At worst, you won’t waste too much of your time. At best, you’ll get treated to an above decent platformer that got lost in the shuffle.


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