STAFF REVIEW of Asterix & Obelix: Slap Them All! (Xbox One)

Wednesday, January 5, 2022.
by Adam Dileva

Asterix & Obelix: Slap Them All! Box art Asterix & Obelix has been around since 1959 when it debut, since then the small comic has garnered many fans, spinoffs, games, movies and more. More than 6 decades later, the franchise still has a following, enough so that developers Mr. Nutz have made the latest game, Asterix & Obelix: Slap Them All! (referred to simply as 'Slap Them All' from hereon). So what can you expect from a game with Slap Them All right in the title? Well, as you can probably guess, a lot of slapping, smacking, punching and more as the titular heroes fight back against the Roman Empire in this hand drawn adventure that looks as it came straight from the comic itself.

In 50 B.C., Gaul, what we know today as France, Belgium, Germany and surrounding areas, was occupied by the Romans, well most of it. There’s a tiny little village where Asterix and Obelix reside that are holding their own against the invading forces, so of course they set off an adventure across the land to fight back, by slapping of course. There’s six chapters, each with a handful of levels which span the duo’s adventure, fighting countless Romans, thugs and bosses. While I’ve only dabbled in the comics, I believe Slap Them All follows some of their earlier adventures. While there is an overall narrative, this is a brawler game first and foremost, so there’s some quick comic book style cutscenes between levels and chapters, but you come here for the fighting, not the story.

What surprised me was how lengthy Slap Them All was, taking roughly 6-8 hours from start to finish, and while that seems like there’s a fair amount of content for a game priced at $38.99 CAD, you’re going to wish it was over after an hour or two, as it’s repetitive as it gets, even for a brawler. That’s not to say that brawlers can’t be entertaining for hours on end, as Streets of Rage 4 and Double Dragon Neon were recent revivals of the genre and were fantastic in their own rights.

Side scrolling beat-em-ups are the norm, you know the kind, where you move from the left side of the screen to the right, stopping every so often to beat up all the bad guys in your way, Slap Them All is no different. You control Asterix and Obelix, naturally, and if playing solo, can swap back and forth to either one at the press of a button. At first I was quite impressed by Slap Them All’s visuals, as it’s quite bright and colorful, looking as though it came straight out of the comics, and while the aesthetics impressed, the gameplay actually brought down the rest of the experience.

Brawlers need something that gets you to continue wanting to play, or some sort of progression, even if minor. Slap Them All simply scores you per level, but with no online play or leaderboards, there’s virtually no reason to play a second or third time unless wanting to challenge yourself in harder difficulties, achievement hunting, or really care about obtaining a high score that only you will know about.

I normally really enjoy beat-em-ups, but when you fight the exact same handful of enemies for ten hours across the same backdrops with no variety, it gets quite stale, and quickly. There’s a few odd levels thrown in here and there that break up the monotony, like having a foot race or trying to break all the barrels in a short allotted time, but the rest of the experience is going to be as repetitive as it gets.

For a game that is all about its combat, it’s quite basic. You’re going to be spamming the ‘X’ button to attack, ‘Y’ for special moves and ‘B’ to throw enemy Romans. That’s about it. There is technically a block button, but there’s really no point using it unless you get stuck in an attack loop while surrounded. Special movies require energy and stamina to use, indicated by the lightning bolts at the top of the screen. These in theory should do way more damage and be worth it, but your stamina charges very quickly with normal attacks and these special moves don’t seem to do much more damage, if at all.

Regular attacks make combos the more you spam the attack, and most enemies are damage sponges even on the easier difficulties, requiring a few combos to defeat even the basic enemies. Enemies only come in a handful of varieties, and every single one of them look exactly the same. Most are mindless and simply walk towards you waiting to get attacked, others are bigger and can do a damaging move if you let them charge up, and lastly there’s range javelin throwers that are the bane of your existence. You need to prioritize the annoying enemies first, then the rest can be dealt with however you wish.

Asterix and Obelix can be swapped on the fly if playing solo (co-op together if with a local friend) with a button press, and both have their own attacks and movesets. This makes sense given their stature, but I found Asterix infinitely more useful than his large partner. You attack in the direction you’re facing, and I found that Asterix’s main combo tended to have a larger spread, allowing me to hit many more Romans at once compared to Obelix’s moveset. He also has a grab ability where he can swing it in a circle, depleting your stamina quickly, but hitting anyone within its radius before chucking them to the side of the screen.

Combat rarely feels satisfying though, as you’re constantly using the same moves and combos nonstop until the credits roll. Even boss fights get repeated many times, and these weren’t all that challenging aside from adding in numerous regular enemies at the same time once you learn their moves and how to avoid them. The repeated enemies become quite tiresome though, as it’s literally dozens of the same enemies on screen all the time. There’s only a few additions in the later chapters, but nothing all that exciting. Simply try and get all of the enemies in front of you, spam attack, and you’ll win. Of course barrels will contain money (points) and food to replenish your health along the way, as to be expected.

Again, Slap Them All is very visually appealing. The art style looks authentic as the original comics and even moves and animates as you’d expect the duo to, even down to Obelix’ walking waddle with his hands behind his back. While the enemies do look just as well done, seeing the same few over and over for hours becomes quite tiresome. The background music is subtle but suits the setting and gameplay, and while there’s only a few moments of voice work, mostly from the narrator between levels, it’s a shame the cutscenes weren’t narrated as well. Audio as a whole becomes tiresome though, as you’re going to hear the same punch and attack sounds for hours on end, as well as the Roman death cry repeated even on top of one another.

Adding to the frustration of repetition, I ran into a few bugs that disappointed. More than once I had an enemy stuck outside the edge of the screen where they spawn in, so I was unable to defeat them and continue on my journey, causing a restart of the level. There’s no checkpoints either, so I had to start the same level from the very beginning again too.

Asterix & Obelix: Slap Them All! was fun for the first two chapters, then I realized I had to sit through another four of the same button spamming. Normally I’m all for length in games if it has a purpose and is entertaining, but Slap Them All definitely overstayed its welcome and I made myself finish it simply for review purposes. Asterix & Obelix fans will no doubt enjoy its authentic look and feel, but the steep price tag is unlikely to warrant a purchase from brawler fans.

**Asterix & Obelix: Slap Them All! was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 5.3 / 10
Gameplay: 3.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 5.0 / 10


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