Abo Mando – What We Think:
Abo Mando is a Mexican punk rocker – at least judging by his mohawk – who’s been abducted by aliens and mistakenly returned to the wrong time. Now he’s got to fight his way through hordes of monsters from Mexican folklore and somehow make his way back home. Sounds like a pretty great concept for a game, right?
It’s a shame, then, that Abo Mando is such a mess. Due to lack of resources or lack of effort – or both – the developers took what could have been a cool idea and instead of running with it, just ran it into the ground. At best, this could have been a mediocre platformer, but Abo Mando doesn’t even feel finished, which somehow makes things even worse.
Black and White and Dead All Over
The mostly monotone graphics don’t help much. Admittedly, using sparse bits of bright color in an otherwise black and white presentation can lead to glorious results. But Schindler’s List this ain’t.
Some of the environments do manage to create a classically spooky mood, and the Dia de Los Muertos altars are an especially nice touch, but Abo Mando isn’t much to look at, for reasons that go beyond its attempt at going for a deliberately retro 8-bit style. And the monotonous gray backgrounds aren’t just boring to look at, they actually sometimes make it hard to distinguish platforms from pits, leading to some frustrating deaths.
More troubling, a number of people have pointed out the similarities between background tiles in Abo Mando in a couple of classic NES titles, most notably Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest. Such questions have been removed from the Steam forums for now, but it does beg the question: shouldn’t a game that’s not even using original assets look better than this?
Turkey-Stomp Not a Romp
Ugly and bland would be forgivable if the game was more fun. But there is no dearth of retro platformers in the world, and little reason to play this one. Besides floaty-feeling jump mechanics and bad collision detection, the game simply feels unfinished and poorly thought out.
Some enemies, for example, can be killed with your gun, while others need to be jumped upon. The only factor determining this is the height of the enemy. Bats, dogs, ghosts and what appear to be black turkeys need to be stomped, while zombies and witches and the like, being of normal human height, need to be shot. While these rules can be figured out easily enough, they don’t make much sense in the game’s context.
The sound and animation design also makes playing Abo Mando a much less satisfying experience than it could be. Kill an enemy, and it just vanishes, nary a sound or animation effect to be found. It makes for a game that’s as unrewarding to play as it is to look at.
Fetus-Flinging Should Be More Fun
Abo Mando could have been good, if not great. It’s got a cool concept and some nicely over-the-top monster designs. Legendary mourning ghost mother La Llorona, for example, appears here as a monstrous, fetus-flinging phantom. And some of the timed levels, like a rising water level, are white-knuckle rides that manage to be both challenging and even kind of fun, recalling the 8-bit classics that clearly inspired them.
But the apparent lack of effort on display here – not to mention a mostly lackluster presentation – turn this into a real disappointment. Someday soon, hopefully, someone will make an amazing game based on the monsters of Mexican folklore. Abo Mando isn’t it.
Abo Mando is available via Steam.
Watch the trailer for Abo Mando below: