Double Dragon for the NES is a game that somewhat exemplifies the 8-bit era of video games. Lacking the multiplayer co-op of the original arcade, the game makes up for it with a combination of tight controls and absurd glitches. Whether it’s beating up on an invisible enemy for experience, watching an enemy fall through solid rock, or defeating opponents by climbing up or down until you can’t see them anymore, it had that right amounts of notorious difficulty and sheer fun. It’s with this spirit in mind that Abobo’s Big Adventure was developed, and as one of many who grew up with games of the NES generation, I decided to try it out when it debuted last week. Starring the physically largest enemy in Double Dragon, the game is an elaborate homage to that era, packed with references to an almost innumerable amount of games.
The (very) basic story has Abobo going through various worlds, from Mario to Pro Wrestling, all in order to rescue his son, and the cut-scenes often make light of the fact that Abobo is an unlikely hero, being a boss character originally. In this regard, I find Abobo’s Big Adventure to be at its best when it fulfills more than just an itch for the Nintendo days of yore and actively makes you feel like you’re controlling a beefy “master” (remember when bosses were sometimes called masters?) whose normal job is to make a protagonist regret his path in life. The first stage, a remake of the original Mission 1 from the NES Double Dragon, has Abobo giving nasty overhead chops which take out giant chunks of health in a way a puny martial artist’s spin kicks never could. Stage 3 pits Abobo against one of the characters from rudimentary fighting game Urban Champion, only the situation is entirely unwinnable by the opponent. Try as he he might, the poor “Urban Champ’s” fists cannot make a dent in Abobo’s rock-hard abs. Obviously the difficulty in this section is absolutely zero, but NES homages don’t always have to be about “NES-difficulty,” and it provides a feeling similar to the Wario games, where Wario bowls over enemies where Mario would typically lose lives and in doing so shows how much tougher he is by comparison. The final stage may be the epitome of expressing the power of Abobo, as it literally sets you in the boss position against a good guy in a scenario I think many fans of video games have wondered about for years.
On the flip-side, the biggest shortcoming of Abobo’s Big Adventure is that in some stages it just feels like the original game with an Abobo skin on top. The Zelda and Mega Man sections are especially bad at this, as they do not even bother to give Abobo anything functionally special, other than increased health. Giving the massive Abobo the ability to walk through solid doors in the Zelda level for instance would’ve been a way to emphasize his power and girth. The Mega Man level brings in the infamous Quick Man lasers, and Abobo is just as vulnerable to them as anyone else (i.e. he dies instantly). While I understand something of a desire to be faithful to the originals, these examples could have used as much care as the other parts of the game.
Overall, I think the game is worth a shot, especially given that it’s absolutely free and can be put down at any time. It has a good deal of heart in it, and that shows more prominently in some parts than others.