Comics depicting the adventures of Asterix the Gaul have been around since 1959. Originating in France, they’ve been translated into many other languages and continue being published to this day. Microids’ series of video game adaptations has persisted for quite a while as well. The single-player Asterix & Obelix XXL first released in 2003, receiving a remaster for modern platforms in 2020. Asterix & Obelix XXL 3, the third game in the series, introduced 2-player local co-op in 2019. Following last year’s beat ‘em up spin-off, Asterix & Obelix: Slap Them All!, the series now has a fourth numbered installment: Asterix & Obelix XXXL: The Ram from Hibernia. This one ups the ante with 4-player local co-op.
Whereas Slap Them All! directly adapted stories from the comics, XXXL tells an original story that feels very much of a piece with the illustrated tales. During the time of the Roman empire, the island of Hibernia (present-day Ireland) is under siege from the conquering Romans. A Roman general has kidnapped the Hibernians’ magic ram, sending the Hibernian leader, Whiskitonix, into despair. The chief’s daughter recruits Asterix and Obelix, the famous Gaulish warriors, to help rescue the ram and save Hibernia. The narrative, brought to life via fully voiced cinematics, is light-hearted and silly enough that even players who are unfamiliar with Asterix will likely find it amusing.
XXXL consists of six massive levels set within Gaul, Hibernia, and on ocean-faring ships. Gameplay builds on the design of Asterix & Obelix XXL 3, so this is a top-down action game rather than a 3D platformer like the first two XXL titles. Players will explore levels, battle enemies, solve puzzles, rescue civilians, and complete other tasks in their quest for the ram. Each level has four collectibles to find and four medals to earn. You can’t keep track of found/missed collectibles during the actual level, annoyingly, but they are shown on the level select screen.
Levels can be quite large (there should really be a map of some sort), though progression is fairly linear because paths will often be locked off until specific switches are hit. Puzzles are sometimes designed so that two characters must cooperate to reach a switch. When playing solo, the player can switch between Asterix and Obelix at will, but working together with a friend is generally quicker and easier. At the end of a level, players take on a challenging camp section that awards medals based on time, score, health, and other criteria.
Asterix is a famously fierce fighter, so it’s fitting that combat is a highlight here. The heroes have weak and strong attacks that can be used to string together simple combos. The game has all kinds of weapons to find, including hammers, spears, sticks, musical instruments, and more. These can be wielded until they break or thrown at foes. Even dizzied enemies can be hilariously swung around like weapons. Asterix and Obelix each have unique ultimate moves that require stamina to perform as well. Finally, charging up a dash will allow the heroes to move quickly and/or cross gaps (there’s no jumping).
XXXL is the first game in the series to support 4-player local co-op. Since Asterix and Obelix are typically a fighting duo, best friends for life and all that, the developers at OSome Studio had the chance to get creative when deciding on characters for the third and fourth players. Instead, they went with letting the extra players control glowing clones of Asterix and Obelix. A very boring choice, but it’s still fun being able to bring more friends along on the adventure.
Co-op makes for a generally easier experience than single-player. When playing solo, Asterix and Obelix share the same life meter. If the character controlled by the player dies, the game will restart from the last checkpoint. In co-op, any downed player will automatically revive at half health as long as another player remains alive. Players can knock each other around with attacks, but friendly fire doesn’t actually do any damage. Spreading out a little bit during fights will allow the team to take down the Roman hordes in no time. Camp segments can be tougher in co-op if team members don't play efficiently. The game gives each player a TMNT: Shredder's Revenge-style award based on how they played, though, which can be amusing.
Although XXXL is a colorful and charming game, it’s not a very polished one. A few examples:
- There are times when the team can’t progress because an enemy gets stuck somewhere or never appears, forcing a restart.
- In single-player, the camera sometimes shifts back to the scene of a puzzle even after the player has moved on to another location. When this happens, swapping characters will reset the camera to the proper position.
- During one cut scene, a subtitle read, “Missing string table entry” rather than displaying dialog.
- According to True Achievements, the Xbox version has two unobtainable Achievements. The PlayStation version seems to have four unobtainable Trophies.
- The PC version is reportedly even buggier, according to Steam reviews (I played on Xbox Series X).
Bugginess aside, Asterix & Obelix XXXL: The Ram from Hibernia is still a worthwhile entry in the Asterix franchise. The writing and voice acting do a fine job of bringing the comic characters to life, the action is just deep enough to entertain, and the occasional puzzles do a nice job of keeping things fresh without becoming frustrating. Co-op really adds a lot of fun, too, whether playing with two players or four. Let’s hope that Microids and OSome Studio address the worst bugs afflicting the game (especially the Achievements and Trophies) so that The Ram from Hibernia can be remembered as one of the better games starring Asterix the Gaul.
An Xbox code was provided by the publisher for this review.
The Co-Op Experience: Up to four players can team up and beat up Romans together. The third and fourth players control clones of Asterix and Obelix. Players can knock each other around with their attacks, but friendly fire doesn't cause damage. In co-op games, any downed players will respawn as long as another player remains alive.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.