Asterix Total Retaliation Review

AsterixTR_1
Asterix vs Romans! Or.. Plants Vs Zombies, as you probably know it. At least it’s not Megaslap again.

Asterix Total Retaliation: On the plus side

As I’ve noted before, I have a special affection for Asterix, and that means that in some ways I’m a sucker. Release a game with Asterix in it, and I’m there, whether it’s Olympic Game themed, 8-bit glorious, or more recently, a literal punch-em-up sorely lacking in actual game.
Asterix Megaslap didn’t fill me with confidence, but I had slightly higher hopes for Asterix Total Retaliation, simply because the source material is quite obvious from the moment you start playing it. This is Plants Vs Zombies, except the Plants are Gauls and the Zombies are Romans.
Like Megaslap, everything looks authentic, although the default view is rather zoomed out, which robs characters of some of their characteristic swagger. Your main task — and this is a little surprising for a game that features Asterix in the title — is to shuffle around the villagers in an effort to protect Getafix’s magic potion.

Nobody tell Obelix I've won Panacea. I can't survive that kind of beating.
Nobody tell Obelix I’ve won Panacea. I can’t survive that kind of beating.

Magic potion is the “sunlight” equivalent at play here, and Getafix regularly throws some onto the game screen for you to catch; a little later on you can build magic cauldrons that also brew it, albeit in smaller quantities than Getafix can brew up.
It’s not just a carbon copy, however, and for that Bulkypix deserves some credit. You can’t just stack up copy after copy of Geriatrix, Unhygenix and friends to see off waves of Romans, because instead each villager is unique. You place them once for a set cost, and then can shift them around the play field as the situation warrants for the cost of 20 units of magic potion each time.
Potion management -- and carefully shifting villagers around -- is the key to victory.
Potion management — and carefully shifting villagers around — is the key to victory.

It’s an interesting strategy quirk, as is the powerup method. This is where Asterix, Obelix and Dogmatix come into play, as you use them for a fixed cost to clear individual lines of advancing Romans, as well as launching some very simple mini-games to beat up Romans.

Asterix Total Retaliation: On the minus side

Plants vs Zombies is a good cloning target, because while I don’t much like the sequel, it’s still a very good and polished game. The problem with cloning a good and polished game is that if you don’t have the same level of polish to offer, the differences become stark.
Asterix Total Retaliation isn’t that polished, despite its innovative ideas. To throw out some examples, Getafix regularly throws out gourds of magic potion, but he does so at high speed, with a bonus for catching it on the fly. In the thick of battle this is difficult and annoying rather than a fun gameplay aspect. To make things worse, on some levels he’ll randomly get stingy with the potion. I’ve lost more than a few battles simply because there wasn’t anywhere near enough magic potion to actually compete properly.
The game supports IAP for buying coins in-game, but many levels in, I’m still not sure why you’d want to need to do that. I’m all for not making IAP mandatory, especially on a game that costs actual money in the first place, but this feels like it’s just plain broken at the start.

I'm not kidding. The game will happily take my money for virtual gold, but it's yet to offer me ANYTHING to do with that virtual gold.
I’m not kidding. The game will happily take my money for virtual gold, but it’s yet to offer me ANYTHING to do with that virtual gold.

Maybe I’ll find something later to use that cash for, but right now I’m not inclined to buy anything. In fact I can’t, although I can click on a prize in the top right corner for some reason.
I'm also fairly sure that this isn't what is meant to happen when I click on the gift box on the main screen.
I’m also fairly sure that this isn’t what is meant to happen when I click on the gift box on the main screen.

Asterix Total Retaliation: Pricing

Asterix Total Retaliation is available for iOS (tested) and Android; no matter which version you choose it’ll cost you $1.99.
Here’s the Android version
Here’s the iOS version

Asterix Total Retaliation: Pricing

The good news is that Asterix Total Retaliation is a lot better than Asterix Megaslap, although it would have been quite a bit of work for it to be worse.
The bad news is that while it tries some interesting twists on the PvZ formula, they’re not well balanced enough to be genuinely captivating. I’ve played through around 25 mostly-sameish levels so far, and I’m not particularly engaged enough to continue much further.
Asterix Total Retaliation is buggy in places, and just a bit tepid in others — and that’s not the formula that anyone should be after for any game, let alone an Asterix one. He deserves much better than this.

Cacofonix will sing your boar-ing game out now.
Cacofonix will sing your boar-ing game out now.

Author: Alex

Alex Kidman is a multi-award winning Australian technology writer, former editor at Gizmodo, CNET, GameSpot, ZDNet, PC Mag, APC, Finder and as a contributor to the ABC, SMH, AFR, Courier Mail, GadgetGuy, PC & Tech Authority, Atomic and many more. He's been writing professionally since 1998, and his passions include technology, social issues, education, retro gaming and professional wrestling.

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