I have been dimly aware of Abobo's Big Adventure for several months, despite the fact that it's apparently been in production for a decade or so - and as soon as I discovered the concept, I knew I had to play the thing. Consequently, I've been checking the Newgrounds 'Countdown to Abobo' almost every day.
Today is the day. Today is Abobo. And Abobo... dear god, Abobo is awesome. Awesome enough that I'm doing two reviews in one day, just because I couldn't resist.
Unless you know your Nintendo lore, you probably don't even know Abobo. He was, originally, a beefy boss from Double Dragon who had the distinction of appearing in several games, even managing to go up against the Battletoads at one point. His unusual appearance, coupled by his debatable handlebar mustache, made him a noteworthy, if minor, NES character.
What you DON'T know is that Abobo actually has a son, Aboboy, who for reasons unknown - probably because this is based on an NES game, and NES games love this stuff - has been kidnapped. Abobo needs to get him back, and he'll do it in the only way he understands: trashing anybody who gets between him and his progeny. On with the adventure!
The story for Abobo's Big Adventure is silly as hell. It's MEANT to be silly as hell, because this is a game that crosses genre boundaries between levels. Literally. You're playing a different NES game in each new venture, whether you're roaming the streets old school Abobo-style, swimming the seas like Mario, plundering the lasery depths of Quick Man's stage ala Mega Man or engaging in a good 'ol Balloon Fight. The game play changes with each stage, so being good at one does not mean you'll be so hot at the next - a challenge that most retro gamers should relish.
As mentioned above, each level has Abobo trying something new. You'll walk, you'll punch, you'll swim, you'll fly... consequently, the controls change all the time, even though you're still using the old Nintendo scheme of directional arrows coupled with two buttons (not A and B, in this one, but A and S).
Overall, the controls in Abobo's Big Adventure are pretty solid, though in many cases they're only as good as the game from which they come. For example, most players will probably find Balloon Fight to be a big pain in the ass, because the original game worked that way as well. Can't blame the programmers for sticking to the classics. I only had issues in the Mega Man stage when it came to controls, in that they weren't as responsive as the original game.
So I died. A lot. In one particular spot. You'll know which.
Oh. Good. Lord. Abobo's Big Adventure is more NES games sewn together than I care to consider, and so the package in its entirety is a giant, glorious, pixelated orgy. The visuals are so wonderfully creative - especially in the bosses and the cut scenes - that you'll want to replay Abobo's Big Adventure several times, just to catch all of the references.
What really dragged me into the game, however, was the attention paid to Abobo himself. He's already damn cool on his own, but the game goes to great lengths to make him even cooler, giving him a series of little transformations to suit each level while remaining staple Abobo. I can't show you every change, 'cause that would spoil much of the game's ending, but they're all awesome - especially when Abobo uses his crazy Rage moves to wipe out every enemy on the screen.
Abobo's Big Adventure, as far as I can tell, relies almost entirely on the soundtracks of other games. If you liked the original NES titles, you'll enjoy Abobo's soundtrack. I also liked the attention to the little sounds beyond the background music, right down to the digitized cheering during cage matches. Bravo.
Hard, but not terribly hard. Abobo's Big Adventure is made for NES gamers; everyone else will have a little difficulty getting into the game play, especially since it changes all the time. Some levels are a lot harder than others, and even reshuffling the order wouldn't change this very much.
That said, Abobo's Big Adventure doesn't go out of its way to be too difficult. The game is relatively forgiving in the amount of extra lives, and when you die you can restart at the beginning of the level rather than having to start the entire game over. Abobo's lengthy health meter (fitting for a boss character) and his Rage moves will help pull you through the beefier challenges.
Just, uh, limber up your hands before you start. There's a lot of button tapping in this sucker.
Before I finish off, I will mention one recurring bug: the game froze on me twice. This isn't a huge issue since, cache allowing, you can refresh the page and still have all the unlocked levels at the ready, but the freezing is frustrating as hell if you're almost at the end of a difficult section and have to start over.
Right. Rare negative side over. Ready for the explosion?
YOU. MUST. PLAY. THIS. GAME. If you harbour any sort of love for the NES, you have no choice but to play Abobo's Big Adventure. Sure, you might not give a damn about Abobo himself, but there are so many references jammed into this game that anyone who's so much as touched a Nintendo system will get a few chuckles.
And the ending? Epic. Worth the long wait.
Ready? Then it's time to go. Saddle up, Abobo.
PLAY ABOBO'S BIG ADVENTURE