There is a saying in the world of comics that there are two kinds of people: those who love Asterix and those who do not like comics. Yes, the tiny Gaul and his village who stood up to Julius Caesar and his empire in Goscinny and Uderzo’s classic comic series have something like a cult following. So you can imagine the level of excitement in the app world when a game featuring Asterix himself made its appearance in the iTunes App Store.

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The game Asterix: MegaSlap is an approximately 50 MB download and will put you back by a cent short of a Dollar. At its heart, it is a reasonably simple game – you just bash a poor Roman legionary again and again. There is a spin to it, though. The aim is to send the legionary flying in the air and in the process, bounce on his fellow legionaries, Normans,and other characters from the world of Asterix, and collect coins and laurel wreaths in the process. You can control the power of your punch – it builds up as you swipe your finger back and forth across Asterix – and the trajectory, which is determined by the angle at which your finger meets the unfortunate Roman at the end of your swipe-to-power-up session with Asterix – hit him amidships and he will fly parallel over the ground, hit him under the chin and he will go right up in the air and land in front of you after meeting a few clouds (and maybe even a few Gods!).

The assaultee will bounce off people who come in his path and the further he goes the better for you – you can spur him further by spending some Sestertii (ancient Roman coinage) which you acquire in the course of the game and invoking Gaulish God Toutatis, who will send forth a bolt of lightning that will fling the poor chap a few hundred yards further. The game also throws challenges your way to literally give you something to aim at – bounce off so many Romans or Normans, travel this far, travel this high, and so on. Accomplishing these get you some cash, although you can get some by in-game purchases too.

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A bit like Angry Birds, you might say, only with Asterix himself replacing the catapult, the object of his battering affections replacing the birds to be flung, and the wandering Normans, Romans, Gauls and other sundry pedestrians taking the role of the pigs as targets. Well, you would not be far wrong in that conclusion. But what makes the game really – and we mean really – tick is its presentation. The graphics, be it from Asterix rotating his arm, to the legionary with quivering knees to the Roman patrols to the ambling Normans, are right out of the world of Asterix, and look particularly gorgeous on an iPad. We love the way how a scale underneath the flying soldier keeps showing how us how far he has travelled, including details of flora and fauna underneath, even as we get to see the distance travelled by him and his speed of travel in a corner. There are also some very nice touches, such as getting special cards when your punched victim hits a wreath in mid-air – these cards have no real value in the game, but contain brief profiles of famous characters from the comic series – Olaf Timandahaf, Dogmatix and others, and the option to buy items that will help you send your victim further which again are right out of the Asterix world – wild board, legionary helmets, etc. And of course, as you progress, you meet more characters from the series and throw punches in different parts of the Asterix world.

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All of which makes Asterix: MegaSlap pretty much an Asterix addicts’ game. If you have not read the comic strip, you would be better off playing Angry Birds, really, as there is nothing militantly innovative here. Indeed, we got more than a little irritated at the game’s insistence on telling us how to wind up Asterix’s punch at the beginning of every punch session. Incidentally, we are also wondering why the game is called ‘MegaSlap’ as Asterix is clearly punching people, but that is not really a deal breaker. What, however, might disappoint some people is the sheer monotony of the game – there’s nothing to do other than wind up Asterix and let him throw a punch. There’s none of the punning or word play or even a story line that made the comic series such a massive hit all over the world.

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Asterix: MegaSlap looks right out of the legendary series. But then any Asterix fan will tell you that the series was about more than just a lot of pretty pictures. Which is why we will call this game just a little slapstick, by Belenos, Toutatis and yes, by Jupiter, considering the number of Romans involved. That said, it has not stopped us from downloading it and bashing away. If you love Asterix, this is well worth a download.

Available from: iTunes App Store
Price: $ 0.99

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Nimish Dubey has been writing for more than a decade now (well, Windows 3.1 was around and Apple was on the verge of being finished when he started). He has been published in a number of publications including The Times of India, Mint, The Economic Times, Mid-Day and Femina on subjects that vary from tech write -ups to book reviews to music album round ups. He managed to interview Michael Schumacher once and write two books for young adults along the way.