Astro Bot Rescue Mission

I’ve never been a big fan of VR. The concept seems cool on paper, but I hate having to put on gear to play a video game. I also have a tendency to get kind of sick while playing VR games, and the sweaty-headset effect only exacerbates this for me.

That said, Astro Bot Rescue Mission is an absolute must-play for anyone who enjoys 3D platformers. The game is astonishingly good. The fact that you view the playable character from a third-person perspective minimizes the amount of camera movement you’ll experience (and it’s just a neat idea in general), which reduces motion sickness for me. I can spend a lot more time with Astro Bot Rescue Mission than I can with most of the other VR games I’ve played without feeling super woozy.

The best part of this entire game — and this might honestly be one of the high points of VR gaming — is the Funky Fungi stage. The lighting is brilliant, making the cave setting feel more like a real-world setting than a digital one. And it features one of the best music tracks in gaming history: “Tite Mites (Crystal Cave).”

Listen for yourself:

This track is so good that I actually spend a lot of time thinking about how good it is. It doesn’t even feel possible for a video game track to be this good. But here we are.

This track does so many things that are absolutely brilliant that I’m not even sure where to start. The echoey, eerie synth slides are perfect, and the catchy, slightly buzzsaw-y bass lines really drive this thing along. Every digital sound here is painstakingly well-chosen (including the digital harmonicas) and perfectly suited to this song. This is a masterpiece of digital music composition. Kenneth M C Young, who composed this track, deserves a friggin’ award. Where’s Ken’s award? (Okay, so he did win a couple awards for his work on Astro Bot in 2018, and those were well-deserved I would say. He also did work for LittleBigPlanet and Tearaway, if you have any doubts about his accomplishments as a composer).

“Tite Mites (Crystal Cave)” bounces between dark and moody (like the inside of a cave) and bright and happy (like a 3D platformer should be). This actually brings to mind one of my other favorite music tracks in platform-gaming history, the Caverns theme from Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster’s Hidden Treasure. It’s also on par with some of the 16-bit work of Tommy Tallarico, and that’s some insanely high praise. I don’t take the comparison lightly.

If you listen closely, the first three notes of the bass line are the first three notes of the theme from Level 1-1 in the original Super Mario Bros. Coincidence? I think not.

And the rhythm. Dear god, the rhythm. If you can listen to this whole song without bobbing your head at least one, Astro Bot is more human than you are.

The way the track starts off minimalistic and then builds into the main melody line is pure genius, and the way the track just ends when it’s finished without any real resolve is the icing on an already delicious piece of digital cake.

Astro Bot Rescue Mission

If you’ve never heard this relentless earworm before now, all I can say is “You’re welcome.” This song has been permanently implanted in your brain, and your life has been made slightly better as a result.

Astro Bot Rescue Mission has an incredible soundtrack all around, but nothing else on it even comes even close to the sheer masterpiece-level quality of “Tite Mites (Crystal Cave)” from the Funky Fungi stage.

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