Astro’s Playroom: the story behind those fun PlayStation character cameos

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Astro’s Playroom: the story behind those fun PlayStation character cameos

How Team Asobi captured over 25 years of PlayStation magic in its PS5 launch title.

Hi everybody, we hope you are all doing well and keeping healthy. This is Jamie, the Animation Director over at Team Asobi. First things first, a big thank you for your feedback, comments and reviews of Astro’s Playroom (fact: we do read them all!). We are genuinely delighted to see so much love and positivity around the game. You guys are great!

Looking at your comments, one thing that stood out in particular were the various PlayStation game tributes and cameos hidden all over Astro’s Playroom. Being huge fans of the PlayStation heritage ourselves, we had a real blast creating these! And as you can imagine, with so many amazing and cherished game characters to pick from, we felt a big responsibility to deliver the fun and quality that would do justice to them. 

Today, let us give you a short insight into the creation process of these fun cameos!

As often is the case, we started with concepting these ideas on paper. Toshihiko Nakai, our concept artist oozes creativity and his ideas just jump off the page. Looking through the PlayStation games history, he started drawing lots of fun bot cameos based on PlayStation characters from the last 25 years.

The selection process was simple, if a given cameo was instantly recognisable, made us smile, laugh, and got our inner geek excited, then it would make it through the first step. 

Choosing iconic items of clothing or tools from the given game was paramount to getting that instant recognition while still leaving a little bit of guessing work to do for the player. It had to be a fun game of deciphering, even for players who knew where these cameos originated from. For this to work, a precise knowledge of each of the games was necessary. Once again, Toshihiko proved to be an incredible gaming encyclopedia! 

Another important aspect of making a good cameo was the comedy aspect: each of these scenes had to be funny to watch and not shy away from making a bit of fun of the original games while, of course, still paying respect: that was a balancing act and one of the more difficult things to get just right.

Here are a few examples of early cameo sketches from Toshihiko.

Next was the modelling into 3D. The modelers channelled their inner cosplayer to create unique clothes and props for each scene, resizing where needed to give all props a cute finish that would fit Astro’s world like a glove. At times, and with the approval of the original creators, weapons were modified to be more friendly and bullets would give away to colourful plastic balls. These modifications towards a cuter finish would, in return, put more accent on the light-hearted, humorous nature of the game and that’s how a cohesive style for all cameos would start gelling in.

Finally came our part, the animation process. The animators’ focus always revolved around three concepts: Fast, Frantic & Fun! All animations were done by hand and we aimed to pack every frame with tons of humor and energy. 

In the name of ‘research’, we got to relive some of these great gaming memories, controller in hand. Playing through our favorite PlayStation games from the last 25 years, we picked actions, poses and situations that best crystalised the way those characters are remembered. We then used these key moments as the basis of our animations. All we had to do then was let our creativity loose. As long as it was fast, frantic and fun, it made the final cut!

Because we know you love anecdotes, here’s a funny one: some of the animators at Team Asobi who created these funny cameos actually worked on the original versions of these very games! A funny way to revisit your past work and go full circle, wouldn’t you say?

Aside from seeking out and finding these funny scenes, we thought you might (accidentally of course) throw them a cheeky punch or two and see what happened? We made sure that all characters were made interactive with unique, funny reactions: Kratos chilling in his boat would suddenly start growling angrily with red eyes when attacked, Ellie would cower and Joel would freak out, dropping his precious brick clumsily and catching it at the last second in embarrassment… We totally geeked out making these cameos!

Of course, we involved all original makers of those games from the beginning to the end, which was a real privilege for us. Along the way, we got to make new friends, learn about the making of some of the most amazing PlayStation game series, and, errr… maybe even got a few of our own old games signed. You know, for posterity. :)

Considering that each and every creator we asked agreed to lend their amazing characters to the cause goes to show there is a real fraternity and comradery between creators but also a definite common love for PlayStation between us all. This is true for our PlayStation Studios friends, of course, but also for our many other partners who created the most iconic games on PlayStation during the last 25 years. We can never thank these teams enough for their kindness and trust. 

There was only one catch, however. Although we would have liked to stuff every possible iconic PlayStation character into the game to the point Astro would have nowhere left to run, time ran out and we had to draw the line. Back in Team Asobi, we still often debate between us as to what other character could or should have been included. It makes for fun, endless discussions. :)

That’s all from us today. Take care, friends, keep rocking and speak again soon!

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40 Comments

  • Loved the cameos. Loved the platforming. Loved most of the levels (the touchpad ones were hairpulling at times). Good Job and I wish to see more from you guys in the future.

    • Hi Jamie & Team Asobi! Astro’s Playroom is a game that looked back on the technological and gaming legacy of PlayStation just as a new journey was beginning with the innovative PS5 and DualSense – so the cameos and the PlayStation museum of hardware are all a perfect fit. This and the remarkable soundtrack were pivotal in inspiring feelings of nostalgia in players. If the museum were to be repeated in the next game its impact might be less effective, although I would be happy to see more character cameos. Once again, let me say thank you for a truly special game.

  • Wonderful, joyful game! Thanks for making this free to all PS5 players. Can’t wait to see what your team comes up with next. :)

  • All man you guys had me excited when I saw Astro – was hoping for some DLC announcement. Do you guys have anything planned? Or any new network speedrun challenges on the horizon?

  • Loved the cameos in this game. A bit strange to be getting this post almost a year after launch though. Hope Sony starts showing us new games soon

  • They need a party game with all these characters.

    • I’ll easily buy any future Astro Bot games, but especially that.

    • I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is where i started… 𝗪𝘄𝘄.Income200.𝗰𝗼𝗺

    • The feeling is mutual, I would play that.

  • I would rather have the old Japan Studio back responsible for Team Ico Ico, Shadow Of The Colossus, The Last Guardian, Team Gravity Gravity Rush, Gravity Rush 2, 3rd party relationships with From, Demon’s Souls, Bloodborne, Deracine, Bluepoint, Gravity Rush Remaster, Shadow Of The Colossus Remake, Demon’s Souls Remake, Localization help for the Yakuza franchise, the Persona franchise, the Valkyria franchise, great relationship with Sega/Atlus/Square for the FF games, with Capcom and all the Japanese devs, all gone now thanks, all for tech demos for kids

    • SIE only really wants US studios that make third person “movie” games for people on Youtube to do reaction videos with.

      Pretty soon the only Japanese Sony games you’ll see is the US studio Bluepoint doing remakes of Japanese games.

  • The Forbidden Siren reference was my favourite I got teary eyed that they acknowledged it ^__^

    • This game was honestly the best thing made for PS5. It showed off what the controller could do whilst also being fun all the way through. Keep the fun train going because that’s what games are all about!

  • It’s the first time for me Sony shows it can outplay Nintendo. The quality of Astro Bot is so huge it’s stellar.
    Please make Team Asobi’s level of game polishing the default for all PS 1st parties!
    And please bring us one of this super polished 1sts with 1) A brand new Warhawk! (a PS3 remake!) and 2) a Fat Princess remake!

    Please, Sony, please!

  • This game makes me feel nostalgic, despite the fact it’s not even been out for a year yet! Something magical about it. They did an amazing job paying homage to all eras of PlayStation, can’t wait to see what they do next.

  • This is amazing. I am genuinely excited to play this game whenever I get a PS5! As for what characters should or could have been included, well, I would love to be a part of those discussions lol. Thank you for the awesome blog post!

  • This was just one of a myriad hat tips to Playstation history that we enjoyed when we played the game. That left us craving, yearning for more. Astrobot’s Rescue Mission was absolutely incredible and we’ve replayed it several times, a thing we don’t do with any other game.

    The love everyone at Team Asobi has for Playstation’s history shines thru and we felt it as we played. We only need Sony to stop waxing nostalgic about it and actually give us backwards compatibility so we could actually relive it every day. I would literally kill to play Puppetteer on a PS4 or PS5…

  • it is time to do an event !!! many of us want to see more about the future of PS5, final fantasy xvi, games developed by their new collaborators etc … many are impatient

  • Can’t wait for a full AAA Astro game. Loved this so much. And I’ve done the VR one too.
    I think you got a really great Mario contender!

  • Rip japan studio hope it was worth it

  • Awesome pack-in game. Loved that it was included with the console, very fun experience, great to show off the DualSense and a nice celebration of the PS legacy. Platinumed it.

  • Fix your network! Make a statement – what happened and when you fix it. I pay you money for playing online, where is my paid service?

  • You guys should make plushies with these things. I would totally buy them.

    • Astros Playroom will live long in the memory as being the first game to really convey what the dualsense could do, truly something new, and great fun to boot. Can’t wait to see what Team Asobi has in store ahead 🎮

  • I thought this game was gimmick.. I was wrong. 10/10 masterpiece, first plat on ps5, played it all the way through without touching any other game. I cannot wait for what the studio has next for us.

  • It is a good PS history game,I love this Astro very cute and I play finish I cansound every PS console startup.

  • All the little cameos were great! My favorite was probably Kutaro from Puppeteer. I absolutely adored that game. It pains me to know we’ll probably never get a sequel or spiritual successor to it, but at least the great work of Team Asobi softens the blow a bit.

  • I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is where i started… 𝗪𝘄𝘄.Income200.𝗰𝗼𝗺

  • Where can i buy this type of clothing for a costume party. Is it available at Tops and Bottoms USA online store?

  • I hope we wont wait for PS6 to play Astrolab Two or additional content

    Literary, I was enjoying every single moment of the game. Nothing to add. Shining graphics, nice controls and incredible throw back to the history of Play Station.

    My opinion (but bot only mine) – I didnt like the bouncing ball part of the game. Yes, I know it was made to show the touchpad of the Dual Sense but It was annoying to me, boring and it looked like an old Nokia game, now in 3D graphics.p

  • loved the cameos very much(even though i played it for a short time).

    i hope we get to see a remake for “sly cooper” and “ape escape”, that’d be lovely.

    anyway, keep it up!

  • Got my PS5 at the end of July, and I’ve got to be honest… this was a brilliant little game.

    Okay, it’s basically a tech demo with trophies, but as a long-time fan of PlayStation, I loved discovering the ‘artefacts’ as I’ve owned most of them over the years, and it was a real trip down memory lane.

    I’ve got the Platinum, but I still need to go back and get my time trial speeds down for the final trophy.

  • I loved seeing and pointing out the cameos. It really made me happy to see some smaller franchises get acknowledged and referenced in humorous ways. It was so charming. Though I was a bit sad to see that Twisted Metal and Gran Turismo didn’t get bot cosplays… Anyway, I hope to see more of Astro and what Team Asobi has to offer in the future! This was a great debut game!

  • Any chance you could release more of those Toshihiko concept sketches?

  • I loved this brief but fun game, it felt like a classic 3D platformer in all the right ways.
    Though, it would have been nice to see Klonoa and Pro Skater references.
    Looking forward to Team Asobi’s next game!

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