The following post is a guest piece done by Travis, who is in the process of getting a blog together about… books or something. Once he has that, keep an eye on the right side; it’ll be linked over there. Here’s his summary of Aero The Acro-Bat 2.
This is the first time I’ve played one of the Aero games, having not really explored the SNES library in much depth. But I’ve played its ilk before. Aero the Acro-Bat 2 is a game of abstract simplicity, where you are trying to get from point A to point B, while collecting small spinning or glowing things as much as possible, and while avoiding the numerous entities trying to kill you. How do you know they’re trying to kill you? Because they are not you. If it moves, it wants you to die. There are no allies or NPCs in this game. There is only you, and the mechanistic engine of doom within which you exist.
It also helps that the enemies you face in the first few levels are almost exclusively clowns and spiders, which are universally horrifying beings.
These loathsome creatures are just a manifestation of the game’s broader attitude, though. The clowns and spiders and weird floating balloon things are just extensions of the malevolent game world. The game wants you to die. It doesn’t want you to make it to point B. I played this game for 20 or 30 minutes, and I had to continue twice. That means I died at least eight times, due to the classic video game trope of having 00 be your last life. This is not a game that expects to be beaten in a single sitting, or even at all, by most gamers.
But despite the fact that the game hates you, it is actually pretty great. The controls are decent, if a little floaty; you gain momentum as you run, you jump a satisfying distance, and you can drill diagonally upward, which acts both as a double jump and a second attack. You can also drill downward and shoot…stars, or something, by collecting ammo around the map. It’s very simple, but in my half-hour of play I noticed enormous improvement in my performance, which is the mark of a good game. I also noticed that it’s quite possible to take various routes through the linear stage just by gaining momentum and making smart jumps. There were at least a half dozen secret passages I stumbled onto on my way through the first three levels. I could see this game having speed runs on youtube.
In fact, here’s one. Some jerk beat this first level in about thirty seconds. Apparently you can drill diagonally down, too.
But even though I liked the game mechanically, I just couldn’t make myself play it for very long. And it isn’t the fact that there was what appeared to be a precognitive goatse reference in the intro “video.”
Wow, those are some fucked up hands.
No, I can’t play this game because it is about a generic anthropomorphic creature in a generic castle being attacked by generic enemies, using standard attacks and collecting hamburgers. Everyone collects hamburgers. That was really the turning point. I saw a floating hamburger near a wall and I was like “Fuck you. This ain’t no Burger Time.” As soon as I turned on the game, I felt a bit queasy just looking at something that provides such a powerfully boring experience, but it was the burger that broke the fatty’s back. I don’t think bats would even eat burgers.
So, I recommend giving it a try; if you find the aesthetic to be a charming source of nostalgia, I imagine you will enjoy it a great deal. That is, until you miss your drill attack at a clown doing jumping jacks for the eighth time in a row, and you run out of star ammo, and you decide fuck bats.