Video Game Reviews – June 2012

Sure, blame the guy with the claws and glowing skin.

Abobo’s Big Adventure
Pesto Force/Mockery/Newgrounds

Just as Sir Isaac Newton was wasting time underneath an apple tree when he discovered gravity, I was wasting time surfing the web when I discovered Abobo’s Big Adventure—and like discovering gravity, the world as we know it will never be the same.  If you have an unhealthy knowledge of the games produced on the original Nintendo Entertainment System, you’ll know that Abobo is a boss that pops up in Double Dragon.  If you didn’t know this, then you probably have a functioning social life.  Good job on that.  Anyway, Abobo is the hero of this wickedly bizarre pastiche of 8-bit classics, and it’s his job to navigate through six different levels that have been modeled after classic NES games.  In the Double Dragon level, Abobo tangles with everything from the Super Mario Brothers’ killer goombas to Donkey Kong himself.  There’s also a Legend of Zelda level, complete with its bird’s eye perspective and hidden staircases.  My favorite was the underwater level patterned after those found in Super Mario Brothers.  This may have been because it involves Abobo sharing an unholy union with a mercreature and getting a little Abobaby mutant sidekick as a result. Even when the gameplay recreates the teeth-grinding frustrations of the classic NES oeuvre, I still found it strangely comforting and nostalgic.  Based on the amount of traffic the site gets, I don’t think I’m the only one taking joy in this deranged mash-up.  Currently, the game has garnered over three million hits, and is generating some pretty substantial buzz amongst the gaming community.  Do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to check it out.  It’s like staring into the eye of pure chaos, but in a good way. –Alex Springer

Prototype 2
Radical Entertainment/Activision
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also on: PS3, PC
Street: 04.24
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A freaky-ass virus is “accidentally” released into a major city where it mutates regular folk into bloated, hamburger-faced miscreants that devour everything in sight. Not only is this the plot of every zombie movie/game/book/TV show ever, it also happens to be the narrative backdrop for both Prototype games. The twist is, instead of trying to survive this outbreak, the protagonist—a sullen, vengeance-driven military sergeant by the name of James Heller—has been infected with the virus. Oh, and for some reason, the disease makes him a superhuman killing machine. As if it’s not obvious by now, the crew over at Radical Entertainment didn’t lose much sleep over developing a storyline. Instead, the player is given free reign over a quarantined Manhattan crawling with slavering mutants, innocent civilians and corrupt military officials. Having securely latched itself onto the teat of “open world” or “sandbox” games, Prototype 2’s gameplay is pretty much like its superior predecessor, Grand Theft Auto. The player guides Heller around the city in search of collectibles, secret missions and ways to sabotage Gentek, the company responsible for the virus. Heller’s viral infection provides him with the ability to glide through the air and generate anything from tentacles to scythe-like blades from his arms. Coupled with the ability to shapeshift into other people, Heller is pretty much unstoppable. However, one crucial oversight in crafting a game around an apparently invincible character is that there is no challenge in getting through the barrage of repetitive missions that are hurled your way. Prototype 2 is a passable option if you’re in the market for mass slaughter without a pesky story to get in the way, but it’s not groundbreaking. –Alex Springer

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
Capybara Games
Reviewed on: PC
Also on: iOS, Mac
Street: 04.16
Reviving the ancient spirit of classic adventure gaming, Superbrothers embraces simplicity in a way that defies the modern trend of bigger, shinier, more complicated games. This PC adaptation of the Apple store release from March 2011 retains the completely unique audiovisual style of the original, with Jim Guthrie’s gentle, moody tunes floating over elaborately designed 8-bit landscapes. Part of what makes Superbrothers so great is the sense of discovery you feel as you travel through the game world. The puzzles, while not terribly challenging, require a certain amount of observation and thought, forcing you to really pay attention to the world around you, instead of mindlessly progressing through the game. Hidden areas and paths abound, rewarding studious players with hints of future paths and inviting them further into the mysterious mythos of Mingi Taw. Character designs feature intricate detail and fluid animation, but the game’s simple 8-bit aesthetic makes it easier to abstract the images you see, filling in the gaps between perception and imagination. In fact, the game doesn’t tell you very much at all, relying instead on comical, nonspecific musings in the second person, as if to include the player in the omnipresent “we.” The development team cited the films of David Lynch as a major influence for the game, which seems like a natural comparison to draw for the fractured, unassuming narrative that slowly unfolds from the game’s first click. The sounds and pieces of music in the game fit the mildly mystical tone, from a fireside jam session with Guthrie, down to the little noises made by local wildlife as they flee from your Scythian warrior’s approach. Superbrothers takes the point-and-click adventure game and turns it in a completely new direction. –Henry Glasheen