Astro's Playroom

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Astro's Playroom
Astro's Playroom.jpg
Developer(s)Japan Studio (Team Asobi)
Publisher(s)Sony Interactive Entertainment
Director(s)Nicolas Doucet
Composer(s)Kenneth C M Young
Platform(s)PlayStation 5
Release
  • NA: 12 November 2020
  • AU/NZ: 12 November 2020
  • JP: 12 November 2020
  • WW: 19 November 2020
Genre(s)3D platformer
Mode(s)Single-player

Astro's Playroom is a 3D platforming video game. It was developed by Japan Studio's Team Asobi division and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 5.[1][2] The game is a sequel to Astro Bot Rescue Mission and comes pre-installed on every console, serving additionally as a free tech demo for the DualSense controller.[3][4]

The game was announced on 11 June 2020, at the PlayStation 5 reveal event.[5] It was released on 12 November 2020, in select territories, and worldwide on 19 November 2020.[6]

Gameplay[edit]

A screenshot of Astro Bot with two other robots in the boat behind him referencing Kratos and Atreus from the God of War series.

Astro's Playroom is a 3D platformer in which the player controls the title character Astro Bot using the DualSense controller. Like the previous game, he is able to jump, hover, punch enemies and objects, as well as use a spin attack by charging his punch. The haptic feedback of the controller is used to provide realistic tactile vibrations from actions, such as walking on different types of material, like sand, walking through rainfall, and walking against the wind. The game starts in a hub world called CPU Plaza which is modeled after the inside of the PlayStation 5 console and provides access to four worlds which are each themed after a component of the console: GPU Jungle (PlayStation 4), Cooling Springs (PlayStation 3), SSD Speedway (PlayStation 2), and Memory Meadow (PlayStation).[7] The plaza also houses two other areas: Network Speed Run, in which players can compete in unlockable time trials for the fastest time which can be shared to online leaderboards, and PlayStation Labo, which houses all of the collectables a player has collected.[8]

Each of the four worlds are split up into four levels that are interconnected with each other. Two of these levels involve regular platforming whereas the other two involve a special power-up suit which makes use of the DualSense controller's capabilities. For example, one world features a frog suit with a spring at the bottom in which the controller must be tilted laterally to guide the frog and the trigger pressed down to compress the spring, which offers resistance similar to how a real spring would using the adaptive trigger system. Another example is the ball suit in which the player must swipe the touchpad to guide the ball. The worlds also contain large numbers of other robots performing various activities, including acting out scenes from various current and former PlayStation-exclusive game franchises, such as God of War and Resident Evil.[9]

Three types of collectables exist within each world: coins, puzzle pieces, and artifacts. Coins can be used at a gacha machine in PlayStation Labo to potentially obtain collectable in-game figurines as well as more puzzle pieces and artifacts. Puzzle pieces are used to fill in a PlayStation mural that adorns the walls of the PlayStation Labo area. Finally, artifacts are 3D rendered representations of real-world objects from the history of PlayStation, such as consoles, controllers, and accessories. When collected, the player is able to examine them by moving the DualSense controller around and interact with them using the touchpad or built-in microphone. Artifacts are stored in PlayStation Labo where Astro Bot (and many other robots) can later interact with them by punching or jumping on them.

At the end of each world, there is an area inspired by the startup sequences of the previous four PlayStation home consoles, where the player receives an artifact of the respective console as a reward for completing the world. Once all four worlds have been completed, a secret fifth world opens up called 1994 Throwback, in which Astro Bot must complete a boss fight inspired by the T-Rex tech demo from the original PlayStation's first demo disc.[10] Once the T-Rex has been defeated, the credits roll and the player is rewarded with artifacts from the PlayStation 5 era, including the DualSense controller and the PlayStation 5 console itself.[11]

Development[edit]

Concept art of various characters referencing the Metal Gear, Resident Evil, and Devil May Cry franchises.

Team Asobi began development on Astro's Playroom in early 2018. The game initially started as a series of tech demos for the PlayStation 5's DualSense controller, although its status as a launch title was not established until later in development. According to creative director Nicolas Doucet, at least 80 tech demos for the DualSense controller had been designed while working on the game.[12]

As a celebration of the PlayStation brand, the game features appearances by characters from several PlayStation franchises, as well as characters from series by third-party developers, such as Bandai Namco Entertainment, Capcom, Square Enix, Konami, and Activision. Team Asobi consulted with the original developers, such as Tekken series producer Katsuhiro Harada, for the numerous easter eggs found in Astro's Playroom referencing the different video game franchises,[13] In designing the cameos, concept artist Toshihiko Nakai focused on capturing recognizability, humor, and fan appeal. A number of animators at Team Asobi had previously worked on some original titles referenced in Astro's Playroom.[14]

Reception[edit]

Astro's Playroom received generally favorable reviews, with an aggregate score of 83/100 on Metacritic.[17] Critics praised the game's variety, celebration of the PlayStation brand, and the use of the DualSense controller.

In a highly positive review, Electronic Gaming Monthly's Mollie Patterson awarded the game a perfect score, lauding the variety of the gameplay and the game's nostalgia factor. She wrote:

I found myself legitimately becoming emotional finding all of Astro’s Playroom secrets. No matter your console or company allegiances, it’s easy to forget just how much those 25 years of the PlayStation’s existence as a gaming platform has meant for our hobby.[18]

Destructoid's Chris Carter praised the gameplay as being a great showcase for the DualSense and the instant load times.[19] Similarly, Eurogamer's Martin Robinson praised the game for being a promising glimpse of the future for the PlayStation 5 and remarked it as being "one of the best launch titles I can remember in an age."[20]

The usage of cameos and references to various PlayStation and PlayStation-related franchises such as Uncharted and Crash Bandicoot was praised by Game Informer's Joe Juba, comparing their inclusion favorably to the various licensed Lego video games.[21] Many of the developers behind the various included franchises, such as Naughty Dog, responded positively to these references.[22]

Gamespot's Mike Epstein enjoyed the game's visual fidelity and solid platforming, but was critical of the game's motion control sequences.[23] Jonathon Dornbush, writing for IGN, enjoyed the game's homages to PlayStation's history and the DualSense interactions, but criticized how it felt more like a technical showcase than a full game.[24] Complaints about the game being more of a technical showcase were echoed by Game Rant's Anthony Taormina.[25]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Astro's Playroom brings adorable 3D platforming to PS5". VentureBeat. 2020-06-11. Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  2. ^ Avard, Alex (2020-06-12). "Astro's Playroom is a free PS5 game pre-loaded onto the console at launch". GamesRadar+. Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  3. ^ Gartenberg, Chaim (2020-07-17). "PlayStation 5 pack-in Astro's Playroom is a DualSense controller demo". The Verge. Retrieved 2020-11-14.
  4. ^ "Astro's Playroom preview: PS5's free pack-in is more than just a tech demo". Android Central. 2020-10-27. Retrieved 2020-11-14.
  5. ^ "Astro's Playroom Coming To PS5, No Mention Of VR Support". UploadVR. 2020-06-11. Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  6. ^ "PlayStation 5 launches in November, starting at $399 for PS5 Digital Edition and $499 for PS5 with Ultra HD Blu-Ray Disc Drive". PlayStation.Blog. 2020-09-16. Retrieved 2020-09-16.
  7. ^ Walkthrough - Astro's Playroom Wiki Guide - IGN, retrieved 2021-01-11
  8. ^ "Astro's Playroom Fans Discover Impressive Speedrun Exploits". Gamerant. Retrieved 2020-11-28.
  9. ^ "Every cameraman reference in Astro's Playroom". Gamepur. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  10. ^ 1994 Throwback - Astro's Playroom Wiki Guide - IGN, retrieved 2021-01-11
  11. ^ The 10 Best PlayStation Easter Eggs Hidden In Astro's Playroom, 25 November 2020, retrieved 2020-11-25
  12. ^ "Astro's Playroom — Behind the creation of PlayStation 5's charm-filled platformer". Venture Beat. 12 November 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  13. ^ "Astro's Playroom Tekken Easter Egg Was Supervised by Game's Director". Gamerant. 16 November 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-16.
  14. ^ "Astro's Playroom: the story behind those fun PlayStation character cameos". PlayStation Blog. 31 August 2021. Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  15. ^ "Astro's Playroom for PlayStation 5 Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  16. ^ Robinson, Martin (9 December 2020). "Astro's Playroom review - a uniquely tactile platformer that's the beating heart of PS5". Eurogamer. Retrieved 3 October 2021.
  17. ^ "Astro's Playroom". Metacritic. Retrieved 2020-11-17.
  18. ^ "Astro's Playroom review". EGM. 6 November 2020. Retrieved 2021-01-13.
  19. ^ "Review: Astro's Playroom". Destructoid. Retrieved 2021-01-11.
  20. ^ "Astro's Playroom review - a uniquely tactile platformer that's the beating heart of PS5". Eurogamer. 6 November 2020. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  21. ^ "Astro's Playroom Review – A Welcome Celebration". Game Informer. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  22. ^ "NAUGHTY DOG'S FAVORITE GAMES OF 2020". Naughty Dog. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  23. ^ Epstein, Mike (November 6, 2020). "Astro's Playroom Review: PS5 Welcome Wagon". Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  24. ^ Astro's Playroom Review - IGN, retrieved 2021-01-11
  25. ^ "Astro's Playroom PS5 Review". Game Rant. 6 November 2020. Retrieved 2021-02-09.