(Wii Virtual Console / Super Nintendo)

Aero the Acrobat (Wii Virtual Console / Super Nintendo)

Game Review

Aero the Acrobat Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Marcel van Duyn

Will you go aerobatty for Aero?

Everybody into gaming at the time remembers the "cool mascot" craze during the early 90's; Sega was heavily in on it with Sonic and a whole bunch of other companies tried to cash in on it as well. Sunsoft's attempt came in the form of Aero the Acrobat – a bat with attitude who works as an acrobat in the local circus.

As was the trend back then, the game was of course a platformer. Taking advantage of Aero's acrobatic skills, you have to run and jump through stages by hopping on trampolines, diving through burning hoops and into pools of water, swinging from, well, swings, and riding unicycles. You'd think that the game would be fairly straight-forward, but the opposite is true; every level is like a maze, and you are very frequently presented with a choice between several different paths.

This already presents a problem, because each level has an objective, such as jumping on all designated platforms or clearing all hoops. Since there is no clear indication of where to go, you could very easily bypass a side-path and go all the way to the end of the stage, suddenly realizing that you missed one single hoop, which just so happens to be down that path you didn't take, thus requiring you to go all the way back. There's a time limit as well, but thankfully, it doesn't really matter much. All it does is give you bonus points for however many seconds remain once you clear the stage. If it runs out you can continue playing, but you just won't get a time bonus.

The game can feel very cheap at times. Although you have a life bar, you'll only lose one hit if you come into contact with enemies. This doesn't sound too bad, but enemies can be surprisingly difficult to defeat. Almost everything except the lowest of the low has to be hit in a very specific spot from a specific direction, and failure to do so will just get you bounced away, usually right into the something else. Particularly aggravating are enemy acrobats that hang on swings; sometimes trying to divebomb them results in you grabbing onto the same swing they're hanging on and instantly taking damage.

But you should at least be thankful enemies only deal one damage each. If you get hit by anything else, like fire or spikes, you'll lose every single damage bar you have in one go. It doesn't help that these two obstacles and others like them are often placed in very unfair locations. For example, in one of the earlier stages you have to blast yourself out of a cannon to collect a key up high. Don't put too much power into the blast, though – if you go too high you'll hit the spikes on the ceiling, which you have absolutely no way of knowing are there, thus costing you a valuable life.

There's plenty more lives to collect throughout the course of the game, but if you lose them all you'll have to use a continue. And with only three available, it is very likely that you'll have to replay the game several times and learn the location of every hazard in every level before you can beat it all.

Within each of the game's four worlds, one of the levels has a secret bonus pickup for you to find. These let you play a little bonus game after completing the level, which is a nice break from the sometimes frustrating platforming. Some of these make nice use of the SNES's Mode 7 effect, such as in the first one where you skydive into a small pool of water on the ground and have to maneuver through a bunch of hoops in mid-air.

Although the gameplay has its flaws, the presentation is good: the graphics are nice for a game released within the system's first years, the whole acrobatic theme is pretty interesting, and all the music, with its circus-like themes, is quite catchy.

Conclusion

Overall, the game is a slightly above average early 90's platformer, and although the presentation is quite entertaining, the gameplay will prove frustrating to most people. Unless you'd like to play all of Sunsoft's games, there's no real reason to get this, especially when its sequel, which is also coming to Virtual Console very soon, improved on a lot of things and is considered the better game for it.

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User Comments (52)

zezhyrule

#2

zezhyrule said:

Aww, I was hoping for a good review... Well, it was a good review, but I mean a better... game?

Hey! Did you change the tag... line... sub... thingy... whatever it's called? >:3

CorbsAdmin

#3

Corbs said:

I still enjoy this game, but the sequel is even better.

Bass_X0

#4

Bass_X0 said:

Hmmmm. I thought it would get a higher score.

Never played it properly but I expected it to be a 7/10. I call it an above average platformer from what I've read about it and limited short play of it (hence why I didn't want to play it), so 6/10 is probably about right too. 5/10 would be slightly too low and 8/10 would be way too high. I still won't get it on VC.

irken004

#8

irken004 said:

Just by looking at that ugly character, I could tell this would be a "meh" game.

FonistofCruxis

#11

FonistofCruxis said:

@irken He is pretty ugly but I've seen much worse. For example, Oscar from Oscar in toyland and Oscar in movieland is one of the ugliest protagonists I've seen in gaming.

Link79

#15

Link79 said:

If this game was so bad I have to wonder.... Why did it get a sequel?

Majora

#17

Majora said:

Play Dynamite Headdy instead: much better than Aero the Acrobat 1 & 2 together.

WanderFan91

#18

WanderFan91 said:

I played Dynamite Headdy when I was little at one of my cousins' house, and it was fun from what I've played.

NeoRausch

#20

NeoRausch said:

well the second oart is waaaaaaaaaay better.
and: dynamite headdy! WHOOOO! hard but great. trasure at usual ;)

Link79

#22

Link79 said:

Well I do plan on getting Aero 2 so I might as well get the first one. Wouldn't be right to only have the second. As for Dynamite headdy it can be quite frustrating too yet it got a higher score. I honestly thought a 7/10 would be the score for Aero 1. I've played far worse 2-D platformers.

suburban_sensei

#23

suburban_sensei said:

I remember playing this game back in the day. I never remember it being a great experience though...a 6 sounds about right.

brooks83

#25

brooks83 said:

I saw the game at Movie Trading Company for 5.99 the other day, I may go pick it up. I used to own it when I was a kid, but it was one of the few games I've ever sold.

DrakeStaff

#26

Drake said:

@Link79: It probably got a sequel because Sunsoft took a gamble and made Aero their mascot as well - So they pretty much had to do at least one more game. Thankfully that turned out better.

JebbyDeringer

#27

JebbyDeringer said:

The score is perfectly fair. I played it the other day for the first time in years (on the snes I wouldn't buy it again) and it is a pretty poor platformer. I think when it came out it would have deserved a 7 but now a 6 is about right. There are platformers that hold up well today and there are those that don't. This one has you hunting all over the levels for objectives which are pretty boring. Jump on a platform 3 or 4 times until it disappears and then go find the next one.

The funny thing is that Sunsoft used Aero as part of their brand logo for a few years and it showed up in other games.

I think there needs to be a Bubsy vs Aero 2nd rate mascot battle to the death.

NeoShinobi

#30

NeoShinobi said:

@Leshclen: Earthworm Jim is supposed to be ugly, he is an earthworm after all.

I remember reading about this game in an IGN artical about failed 90s mascot characters that tried to copy Sonic, it was an interesting read.

JarredBuzzo

#32

JarredBuzzo said:

I never played this one as a kid, it always looked okay but I was more of a Sonic kid....

CanisWolfred

#34

CanisWolfred said:

I am happy with this score. It really isn't a very good platformer, but its fans do tend to overrate it, failing to acknowlegde its shortcomings. I'll still probably get it, just for the helluvit, but I won't rush out to buy it or anything. I sure as hell won't waste the 800 points I'm specifically saving for Castlevania Bloodlines, that's for sure.:|

the_shpydar

#36

the_shpydar said:

"Meh" perfectly sums up my feeling on this game. And the sequel for that matter; even if it did improve on the first a bit, i'd also rate it around a 6.

DarkEdi

#37

DarkEdi said:

I have the GBA version and it´s ok. Does it have any difference with VC/SNES version?

Link79

#38

Link79 said:

Now see once again. The original game wasn't that good yet they bothered to re release it on GBA also? Somebody must've liked it. Games that are bad or generally didn't sell that well shouldn't be candidates for sequels or re releases. oh wait... There's been several games re released on VC that sucked. Open mouth insert foot LOL. I still think the review score is too low. IGN even gave it a 7.5.

Poochy123

#39

Poochy123 said:

I personally think the review is too high. I picked this up the SNES cartridge recently and it definitely hasn't held up well over time. From the bit that I played, this game should be in the 4-5 range, at best...but that's only my opinion.

Fuzzy

#40

Fuzzy said:

Seems about right. It's fun for a little bit, but gets frustrating. Still want to finish it though.

WolfRamHeart

#41

WolfRamHeart said:

I never played any of the Aero the Acrobat games before but this one doesn't seem too bad. I will probably give the sequel a try when it arrives on the Virtual Console. I'm in the mood for some old-school platforming fun.:)

taffy

#42

taffy said:

Do you think we'll ever get cool spot on VC... that game was epic!!!!

WanderFan91

#43

WanderFan91 said:

@taffy - I like Cool Spot, but there is one thing that prevents the chances of the game hitting the VC: it's a licensed title (based on the Spot from the 7Up commercials), and I'm not even certain if Virgin Interactive's still in the video game business.

Stuffgamer1

#44

Stuffgamer1 said:

@StarBoy: They left for a while, but recently reappeared to do some weird online gaming-for-prizes thingy I don't really understand. I don't know if they still hold the rights to their old games or would even be interested in re-releasing them, though.

WanderFan91

#45

WanderFan91 said:

It occurred to me that Virgin Interactive released nothing but licensed titles. I can't think of any of their games that wasn't based on a licensed product.

retro_player_22

#46

retro_player_22 said:

This game definitely deserve an 8 at best. Just because it is no Mario or Sonic doesn't mean it's as bad as Bubsy.

Vinsanity

#47

Vinsanity said:

hmph. Way too harsh on an otherwise pretty good game if you ask me, but hey - that's your opinion Nintendolife.
Don't get me wrong, Aero is definitely a second fiddle Sonic. And unlike Sparkster, who actually has an amazing couple of game deserving of much more fame (at least he got a contemporary sequel on PSN!), Aero's game is jankier.
However, its definitely still worth playing. Especially since the VC releases have slowed to a trickle. The controls are a TAD too loose (although compared to most garbage western platformers from the time, like Rayman, Earthworm Jim and Super Star Wars -- all of whom suffer from overly artsy backgrounds with unclear platform designs and slippery controls which made for frustrating gameplay), Iguana came so close to nailing that tight platformer control. Eventually, they nail it with Aero 2, but whatever. The first game is still very, very attractive - one of those quintessentially 16-bit looking games, the kind that shows why legions of gamers love sprite art - and has some really cool set pieces in there. And the open level designs with mission objectives, instead of just "go from left to right", is oddly forward thinking.
Much has been said of all the Sonic ripoffs that came out of the 16 bit era; those soulless, marketable animals with 'tude. And while Aero definitely has some of that (watch his sunglasses/moonwalk combo during the score screen after finishing a level!), he's NOWHERE near as bad as many say. The game is good, and well worth playing if you're a fan of SNES/Gen platformers and already have other ones on the VC.
He's definitely closer to Sonic and Rocket Knight than he is to garbage like Awesome Possum and Rocky Rodent. Don't go confusing him with the likes of those guys! Just look at the trailer Sunsoft (quietly) put on Youtube for this re-release*: This game has some greatness in there. It's just a tad janky. But decidedly NOT mediocre. Nintendolife is right in that it could use a REAL checkpoint system and some less cheap stage gimmicks, but hey - that's the 16 bit era for ya. And trust me - nothing makes you good at a game like dying over and over again. And Aero is definitely the kinda game where you get noticeably better after failure, so that's good.

WanderFan91

#51

WanderFan91 said:

Huh. The tagline's been changed again, only this time to "Will you go aerobatty for Aero?"

Bass_X0

#52

Bass_X0 said:

If this game was so bad I have to wonder.... Why did it get a sequel?

Being a bad game doesn't stop it getting a sequel. Likewise, being a good game doesn't guarantee a sequel either.

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