the artistry and psychology of gaming


Abobo’s Big Adventure

Abobo’s Big Adventure

Welcome to Gaming on the House; don’t look down and and mind your step! Each week, we’ll be climbing the rooftops of the gaming industry to seek out great experiences that everyone can track down and play, and the best part is they’ll all be free! That’s right; FREE! Gratis. Comp’d. Unbound. Unrestricted. Zero-down. On the House!… we talk about free games here, is my point.

Many may be surprised at how many fantastic games are really out there that everyone can legally enjoy with no monetary commitment. Taking together all the flash and browser games, freeware downloads from the independent scene, speed programming archives, free-to-play business modules, and even promotional re-releases from big name publishers, there’s a never ending supply of great games new and old waiting to be played, and it’s our goal to play them all! So, if you’re strapped for cash or just waiting around for that next big release to hit retail, why not give these games a try? After all, they’re free; what have you got to lose!

This week, we play a crap ton of NES games all at once… ready, go!

Abobo’s Big Adventure

Yes... it's that Abobo

Genre: Fan-service with buttons
Link to Game:
Game Info: Released on Newgrounds on January 11th, 2012, presumably after many years of playing through the NES library.

Last week I wrote about the merits of the retro-revival, and how some of the best games that have come out of it focus on bringing the influences of the past into today’s gaming landscape without relying on cheap references. To exemplify this point, I looked to Treasure Adventure Game, a game that creates a world all its own while still maintaining some strong stylistic ties to the platforming adventure games popular in the bid-late 80’s.  For games like these, the retro presentation is utilized, but not relied on, as the game would prove to be just as enjoyable if it were given a more modern look.

… and then there’s Abobo’s Big Adventure.

Perhaps the complete opposite of Treasure Adventure Game while still being an incredible product overall, Abobo from the Double Dragon universe is called back into action when his precious Aboboy is kidnapped, and he’s forced to battle his way across NES history to track him down. In doing so, Abobo hops in and out of classic NES releases from the Legend of Zelda, to Contra, to Mega Man, to Urban Champion (ok, classic is a stretch there), and fights a truly insane roster of recognizable characters from all over.

Chin Salabim... is that a riff on Johnny Quest?
Chin Salabim, is that a thing from Johnny Quest?

Abobo’s Big Adventure is billed as “The Ultimate Tribute to the NES” and while that sounds like a tall order, you’d be hard pressed to find anything else that comes remotely close to the fan-service packed into this game. I’m not normally a big fan of having references being a product’s main draw, and that’s really what this game is all about, but the shear volume of references being thrown around is more than enough to take notice. In the first level alone, you fight thugs from Double Dragon and Kung Fu, along with Goombas, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., River City Ransom, and Kid Nikki Radical Ninja!

Fortunately, the game’s pretty good as well, as Abobo doesn’t just visit the various video game worlds; he embraces them, incorporating a number of control types into a single release. He brawls in the Double Dragon level, totes a gun in the Contra level (along with the ability to input the Konami code to gain 30 extra lives!), changes to top-down perspective for the Zelda portion, and floats along in the Balloon Fight level just like in the real games. Providing a nice twist on the gameplay (and allowing for a concept to tie the individual segments together), Abobo also has a rage meter that climbs with each punch, ultimately paying off with an excellent super attack to everything on screen. These rage attacks aren’t without their own hilarious references as well, the best maybe being the “death blossom” from The Last Starfighter making its appearance in the Balloon Fight level.

Zelda shouldn’t stand so close to Abobo when insulting him.

Behind all the name-dropping and pixel-pilfering (side note: I went to grab some screenshots yesterday, however the game’s website was temporarily offline in support of the SOPA blackout protests), maybe the best thing about taking these types of older games into today is the ability to apply the current bells and whistles that so many of our current games enjoy. Simple conveniences like saving automatically, bestowing bonus material, and then there’s that occasional bane on gaming’s existence; achievements. This game has a ton of them, 96 in fact, lots of which are hilarious. Throw a barrel at the sentient barrel enemy for the achievement “irony,” or sword slash a walking bob-omb to explode and nab the achievement “idiot.” The achievements are pretty fun to earn, and offer a game within the game, earning points with each achievement unlocked (2000 points in all).

If you’ve ever played an NES game, you’ll most likely see that game represented here. If you’ve played 5 NES games, yeah, they’re probably here too. The game is a full celebration of the games of yester-year, and a great amount of fun to play through for those that remember it. Take the references away, and you still have a somewhat fun mish-mash of play types to keep you occupied. Other than that, level design isn’t incredibly strong; the Mario level in particular is a bit frustrating for how close together some of the electrified coral is. Some of the levels also last a bit longer than their novelty aspect is willing to take them as well, but overall the game is fun to get through.

As an added bonus, once you make it through the full game, each of the individual sections can be accessed from the start, so you can relive your favorite segments. Granted, you could also have a similar effect if you just played some of the games being referenced, but come on… you play as Abobo. That’s hilarious.


  1. Are you sure the electrified coral being so close together isn’t just a reference to the Dam level of the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles NES game?

  2. I sampled this game, and when I decided to stop and save the rest for later, I realized that I was in the 4th level already. I’m definitely looking forward to finishing up. ABOBO SMASH BILLY LEE FACE!

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