Gumby Vs. The Astrobots: Beware The Dickhead Wizard!


So, at this point, we know there’s some weird stuff on the Game Boy Advance. Stuff that is absolute shite like Crazy Frog Racer, or lesser known, under-the-radar stuff like Gunstar Super Heroes. Well, I come to you today with probably a game I just didn’t think *would* exist, let alone actually *does* exist on the Game Boy Advance. For you see, a few weeks back, I was watching one of my favorite videos on the internet - an owner dressing up as his dog’s favorite toy, Gumby, and that led me to think… Imagine if Gumby had a video game - how would you even make a game out of that!? Though I do admit my knowledge of Gumby is somewhat non-existent, with almost of it involving the aforementioned video

Also, for y’all who stick through this entire review, there’s a treat at the end. No skipping!

Apparently I watched Gumby on VHS as a kid, at least according to my Dad, but as far as I can tell I have no recollection of ever doing this, or seeing any Gumby content in my entire life, outside of the character Gumby’s existence in the first place. That said, I love him. He is a dapper… uh, whatever the hell Gumby and his friends are. Anyway, whilst I’m not versed in the Gumby Lore ™ , it seems to fall into the stereotypes of old-school children’s television - that said, it looks kinda insane, and mostly seems to have Gumby and company going on wacky adventures in fantastical locales - a perfect premise for a video game, as it would happen to be. Yes, I will lay your fears to rest from the very start - Gumby vs The Astro Bots, whilst nothing to write home about, is a sufficiently satisfying game to play, a perfect little platforming snack for those (or in my case, the recently converted) Gumby fans. More importantly, I think I’ll be arguing that Gumby holds a bit more value as a title than just its lead character, but we’ll get there when we get there.

For all intents and purposes, Gumby is a pretty basic platformer. Across the game, Gumby explores six unique worlds, each of which have two to three stages within them, traveling through each to reach the end whilst avoiding the unholy hordes of… harmless robots? Yeah, the enemies aren’t that threatening in the game. At first, I was a little worried that the game was going to be just the basic ‘run right and just jump on things’ style of platforming, but after most worlds Gumby will unlock a new ability that’ll change up platforming in subtle enough ways to keep things fresh, like a hilarious Morph-Ball-esque dash or a weird splat-like wall jump. It plays surprisingly well, with tight controls, though the game’s zoom can make some threats a little annoying when you just can’t see them going. There’s nothing really new brought to the table, but that isn’t too much of an issue, albeit with the caveat it’s not the most interesting game to play. You’ll just be doing the good ‘ol reliable right-to-left jumping and rolling, but there isn’t anything wrong with that - the areas are nice enough to be worth the trip, and most levels have one or two sections that do require you to think things out, albeit rather briefly. The best stuff in the game is easily the boss fights, whilst being fairly innocuous affairs, as they are less actual brawls but more Gumby using his amazingly fantastic body to use weapons of war to take down his various foes. Gumby, well versed in the ways of war, as I’m sure was key to the original series. Anyway, Gumby’s encounter with the wizard at the end of the game genuinely had me in giggles just from not only the sheer lunacy of his ‘boss fight’, but also just how… malicious he is? You’ll see what I mean. There’s also some minor collectibles, which are just ice creams; I don’t think they do much outside of giving Gumby lives after collecting 30 or so. The stages do mark how many you’ve unlocked in each level, but I don’t think there’s any kind of bonus from hunting them down. Completionists will enjoy hunting down those last few elusive ice cream cones (something I go through every day in my own home), but it’s just a bonus and little more.

All I could think of whilst playing much of Gumby was how accessible it was to play, and how wonderful it’d be for a much younger kid - thinking five or six - who’s never touched or has any idea of how to play a game to have as their ‘first’ game. Gumby has it all for a kid - it’s adorable to look at, has a silly plot to push forward, isn’t difficult whilst having probably the perfect level of challenging for a fresh gamer… There is the little fact that this game is, and probably always will be, solely on the Game Boy Advance, but with how easy it is to get a ROM (from a totally legal, self-sourced location) or *cough* hack your 3DS *cough*, this would be one of the first games I’d think of to get into your newborn gamer’s big meaty claws. Sure, the game’s short and rather easy, but that’s not gonna be as much of an issue, per say, when a six year old is playing it. Seriously, the amount of games that took me months to finish, upon playing them again as an adult, I blazed through without an issue, and I think Gumby might be the most beginner friendly version of that. Bit of a weird tangent, but that’s all I could think on during my time with Gumby,

On that note, Gumby has one of those ‘children’s platformer’ plots - bad thing happens, in this case, a professor’s army of peaceful robots are co-opted by the Blockheads (a hilarious, yet fitting names for these stupid-ass enemies), who then proceed to torment the denizens of Gumby’s… bedroom? House? Town hall? I dunno where he actually lives, but it has the vibe of Johnson and Friends, of toys just existing in a huge room. Does… Does anyone else remember Johnson and Friends? Is that too deep a cut? Anyway, whilst the plot is nothing really to think much of, the rare little bits of writing are quite funny and snappy - jokes like a fire-breathing horse being kept prisoner by a Yeti, Dracula killing people by singing badly, and a wizard who just seems to exist to be a dickhead, it’s genuinely really funny in a totally ridiculously way, and right after finishing the first world of the game quickly began to be one of the main reasons I pushed through the game.

There’s just one question I’ve got about Gumby - and whilst I’m glad it exists, it does beg the question… Why the hell did Gumby vs The Astrobots even get made? From the clips I’ve checked out online, Gumby seems like a ton of fun, but it’s a claymation series that premiered in the fifties, and even the more recent feature film came out over ten years before the game was even thought of. Gumby vs the Astrobots came out in 2005, in one of the twilight years of the Game Boy Advance, which just makes it all the odder. I mean, this was the point where many of the big titles had already come out for the GBA, with focus going to the recently released Nintendo DS. Now, I understand that the GBA was cheaper to develop for, but it would’ve made more sense if Gumby had appeared on the scene in 2002 or 2003. I dunno, it’s just kind of fascinating.

And whilst I did refer to this game as having a slight ‘shovelware-lite’ feeling to it, this mostly comes from its short length and visual designs. The latter isn’t really a huge issue - you don’t have to tell me Gumby didn’t have much in the budget department for his only real gaming outing, and it looks just fine, if a little bland, causing it to blend in with other low-budget platformers on the GBA. It *is* however really, really short - I know I had my whole point about this being a great game for kids to cut their teeth on, but the fact of the matter is that I beat the game in a hair over an hour. I could see kids taking a couple of hours to get through it, but it isn’t *that* difficult. Honestly, just giving each of the different words another stage, even just remixed versions of the challenges you’ve already faced would go a long way in making the game feel a bit more filled out then it is. On that note, though - I did have a good time with this game, but that might’ve been partially because of its short length. An hour or two of this? Yeah, fine. Four or five… well, if the level designs had kept up, sure, but I dunno… The audio is pretty good, though. Not a whole lot to say, and it’s not incredibly distinctive, but each song matched the zone it was set in, and it has enough of a vibe that had me toe tapping from time to time in the beat. Again, the budget is probably the culprit of this, but there isn’t too much variety across the game, but it’s not really much more than a nitpick at the end of the day.

Man, it’s kinda hard writing reviews for 2D platformers on the GBA, especially this kinda basic ones. There’s only so many things I can say about it… and I really think I’m gonna have to think of ways to shake up these kinds of reviews, otherwise I think I’ll be in danger of feeling too repetitive. Anyways, Gumby vs the Astrobots is somehow, surprisingly, an actually pretty good game. It’s not amazing, not by a longshot, but for such a budget title for a (relatively) niche character… yeah, I didn’t hate my time with it, but I’m still left wondering if that was helped by its short length. In any case, if you’re a fan of Gumby, or have a little kid (and perhaps a hacked 3DS… mayhaps?) looking to jump into gaming for the first time… I think Gumby is without a doubt worth a play. Amongst the strange, almost mythically weird 2D platformers, I can say with certainty that Gumby vs the Astrobots is one of the better ones - but good lord, there are a lot of them. I need to space these out better.

Huh? Oh yeah, the surprise. Enjoy the greatest video of all time.

Thank you so much for reading the Game Boy Abyss’s review of Gumby vs The Astrobots! Seriously, I feel like these 2D platformers reviews are getting a bit too repetitive. You can find me @Lemmy7003 on twitter or if you have any questions or critiques - seriously, I don’t mind constructive criticism. That goes for you too, loyal Neocities followers! Next week, we hit game No.30, and I’ll be taking a look at a game I’ve actually been requested before, so look forward to that! As always, thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in my new review!