Friday, January 28, 2011

Free / Indie Game Review: Hobo - Room for Improvement

Title: Hobo
Platform: Flash - Plays in browser
Sponsor: Armor Games
My Rating: 5. I wanted to like it,
but not much to it.

   Hobo is a Flash game available over at Flonga that will take most of us back to the glory days of the Nintendo Entertainment System. See, Hobo is a 2D side-scrolling brawler that was made from the same cookie cutter form as its 8-bit ancestors. Instead of taking a chance to innovate, the developers stuck closely to the old blueprint and produced a game that any of us older gamers will instantly recognize.
   As you may have guessed by this point, Hobo is a story about a bum who was minding his own business, sleeping wherever he could. A cop decides that he may not sleep there and treats him rather unkindly. Hobo becomes disgruntled and decides to wreak havoc on the local neighborhood. Playing the part of Hobo, you punch, kick, and disperse bodily fluid through several different local landscapes.
   For me, where Hobo really fails is the gameplay. I must admit, there are no pesky bugs or misspellings that bothered me, it just was not an inspired experience. Even on the hardest mode, Hobo is just a simple brawler without much going on to keep you entertained. While the combos are disgustingly great, you never do anything more than punch, kick, or dispense bodily fluid on random characters. I think every game looking to emulate a classic style should also look to bring something new to the table. We should never feel that we are stuck with old standards; however, that is all Hobo brings.
   The controls in Hobo are executed flawlessly. I admit that it is hard to not resort to button-mashing. However, for those of us that like to play and think we have some strategy, kick and punch is all you need to know. Different combinations allow for special moves, all of which involve spraying some bodily fluid on the enemy. The combos are not all available at the beginning, you unlock them as you go, so that gives something to work for.
   The looks and sounds of Hobo are great. The graphics are done particularly well. You really feel like you are playing a Nintendo-era game with high-definition graphics. I believe this was the aim and it was executed perfectly. The different sound effects mixed with the animations will have you laughing. This is how such a game should be.
   It is very unfortunate that the gameplay is not so great in Hobo, because the rest of the presentation is absolutely wonderful. A game cannot just look and sound good and get a pass to be great. At the same time, you cannot have great gameplay but be lacking on the looks and sounds and expect to get good reviews. However, gameplay; or lack thereof, will always impact the review score I give a game drastically. There is plenty of room for improvements in Hobo. I am excited to know that there are already several sequels out. I will be playing them soon. Follow my reviews and find out if the series takes a turn for the better or has maintained a permanent spot in the land of mediocrity.

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