Abobo's Big Adventure
In 1993, a new star appeared on the NES horizon. A big man with big dreams, big muscles, a big mustache and no shirt, Abobo was one of the first to attempt to delay the Double Dragon-brothers Billy and Jimmy Lee in their quest. While Abobo ultimately failed in his objective, he gained notoriety for his signature "chuck a guy over his head" move. It was certain that fate had much in store for the bald wonder: Over the next few years, he would beat up a couple of Battletoads, grow and lose a Mohawk, be portrayed in a major motion-picture by both Nils Allen Stewart and Henry Kingi, and dye himself blue to appear in a truly terrible cartoon. At the height of his fame, Abobo took his fortune and happily retired to a palatial Hollywood estate to raise his family. Recently however, he was lured back to spotlight by a team of developers, including ThePoxBox, Pesto Force, JackSmack, and the guys at I-Mockery, who wished him to star in an ultimate tribute to the Nintendo Entertainment System. The result is Abobo's Big Adventure, a retro arcade action-adventure game, just released after a literal decade in the making. It's a bold, brassy, over-the-top labor of love that pushes 8-bit nostalgia to its very limit.
The plot has the appropriate minimalism the third generation of video games had: Young Aboboy, has been kidnapped, and if Abobo hopes to get him back, he must rage his way through some of the most famous and infamous of NES games, featuring hundreds of cameos from all sorts of sprites. While the gameplay changes to suit the setting of the level, generally you will move Abobo with the [arrow keys] (double-tapping to run), and attack with [A] and [S]. Defeating enemies will build your "Rage-O-Meter", and when it is full, hit [A + S] together to execute a special Rage move. In a cool feature, the game includes a full tutorial for how you can set up an original NES controller to play.
Never let it be said that I-Mockery doesn't know what its audience likes. Clearly, Abobo's Big Adventure is a nostalgia-fest, and playing "spot the reference" is undoubtedly what will draw most to playing game. However, nostalgia can be done right, and, for a parody, this game definitely has its heart in the right place... even as Abobo desecrates every sacred cow of the NES. With its bursts of pixilated blood and not-safe-for-work sense of humor, Abobo's Big Adventure isn't exactly a mature game, but then again, it's not trying to be. It has all the details video-gaming children of the 80s will appreciate, from the proper invocation of the Konami Code, to the Easter Egg placed in Double Dragon's familiar glitch locale, to the warped Tarantino-esque finale. No reference is too obscure.
Of course, the forty-thousand bonus point question is "How does it play?" Well, fear not, because Abobo's Big Adventure accomplishes what it sets out to do, with a note-perfect recreation of every NES game it sets its mind to... for better or worse. Yes, Abobo's Big Adventure is exactly as good as its inspirations. The MegaMan and Contra levels are brutally challenging masterpieces, The Legend Of Zelda section might be the greatest pastiche ever done of the game, and the climactic final battle in the Punch-Out ring gleefully lets you wipe the smirk off of Little Mac's face. Less inspiring is the Pro-Wrestling level, which harkens to a mediocre game only notable for the kitsch value of the characters, and the Urban Champion level, which faithfully recreates a work that was weak for 1985, let alone 2012. But then, once the music from River City Ransom shows up, all is forgiven.
With its mass of secrets, cutscenes, unlockables and achievements, there is a whole heck of a lot of stuff to explore here. Overall, Abobo's Big Adventure is the kind of game that knows it has a target audience and does everything in its power to pander to it. If you're not on board with why someone might enjoy punching their way through the entire NES catalog, you'll wonder what all the hoopla is about. If you are, though, then man, A WINNER IS YOU!