Video games

Astro’s Playroom: Video Game Review

I have finally, after much waiting, obtained a PS5. With that, among other things, comes Astro’s Playroom, a platformer designed to showcase the features of the Dual-Sense Controller.

Astro’s Playroom is the best kind of fanservice. It’s not the leering risque fanservice of Compile Heart’s games. Nor is it the kind of gatekeeping, cryptic pointless fare that rewards memorization of trivia and shuts out newcomers. This is a love letter to the history of Sony’s hardware without being pandering or shutting out newer fans.

One of the levels in Astro's Playroom.

Astro’s Playroom features Astro, the latest attempt at a mascot from Sony, first appearing in The Playroom (showing off the Eye-Toy), and then the game Astrobot Rescue Mission for PSVR. Astro’s Playroom puts you in a series of levels based around parts of the PS5 (RAM, the SSD, the Video Card, and the CPU cooling system), and with additional themes based the previous 4 generations of Sony consoles.

Each level plays, generally like an ordinary platformer. You’ll make your way through levels, fighting enemies, doing platforming puzzles, and getting collectibles. The collectibles take the form of “Artifacts” – old pieces of Sony gaming hardware from the relevant console generation (ranging from peripherals like the PS1 multitap to variant hardware like the PSP Go) – and “Puzzle Pieces” – which go into murals on the walls of “The Lab” where you can explore 3D models of Sony gaming hardware

However, it doesn’t stop there, as each level of the game has a variety of little shout outs to other games and moments in Sony’s history, from the rubber duck tech demo, to various major titles that appeared on each platform (like references to Crash Bandicoot, Silent Hill, Ape Escape, and so on), with each level ending with a shout out to that generation of console’s startup or menu screen.

Footage of Astro's Playroom with a shout-out to Resident Evil.

The levels control incredibly well, with the levels mixing regular platformer gameplay, and some additional gameplay chunks that are based around elements of the Dual-Sense controller. These range from rolling Astro around in a ball using the touch pad, or using the adaptive triggers to manage the thrust on a rocket ship, or tilting a controller to help climb a wall.

This all makes for an immensely fun launch title, though I wouldn’t have minded having just a couple, smaller bonus levels for the Vita and the PSP.

At present, Astro’s Playroom is only available for the PS5, and comes pre-loaded on the system. So, if you want to get one, um… I recommend following Wario64 at present for drop information.

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