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Kickin' it old school with my homies and Abobo

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Update: This piece has now also been posted on a feature page on the site. You can read it and comment on it there, or here. Thanks!

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The existence of MMOs, Xbox Live and any number of other relatively newfangled inventions ensures that many gaming experiences we have these days are intrinsically social. But even back in the 1980s, long before you could spam all your friends with requests in Indiana Jones Adventure World on Facebook, gaming was always a largely social experience for me. It was something friends and I could bond over, and even with single-player games, it was often something we could share. I have so many memories of passing a controller back and forth with friends while playing one-player NES games, as we cheered each other on and helped each other overcome challenging sections.

An early example of a social game.

Today reminded me of what that felt like. Tom, Giancarlo and I spent some time in the studio playing the free Flash game, Abobo's Big Adventure. The game is a tribute to the glory days of the NES, and if you don't have fond memories of that console's games, Abobo's Big Adventure probably won't do much for you. But if you do have a fondness for games of the NES era, you should absolutely check out the game. It's a labor of love that's jam-packed with a staggering number of pitch-perfect references to NES games, and playing it, I'm often stunned by how vividly the memories it makes me recall are. I haven't thought about the bosses in the game Kung Fu in decades, for instance, but when they appeared on-screen during the first level of Abobo's Big Adventure, I instantly recalled who they were and what it was like to fight them.

A typically reference-packed moment in Abobo's Big Adventure.

But there's much more to Abobo's Big Adventure than the references. It doesn't just duplicate the sprites, environments and music of so many NES games; it captures the simple but challenging gameplay of the games it imitates, too. It was this challenge that led Tom, Giancarlo and I to pass the keyboard back and forth today as we played, each of us taking the reins when our particular skills were useful. So I spent a lot of time watching, but this was no less exciting than playing the game myself. Just like the old days when I would watch a friend confront a challenging boss in Blaster Master or face Dracula at the end of Castlevania, I watched nervously today as my colleagues played, cringing at their failures and reveling in their triumphs. That shared, supportive experience is such a significant aspect of my earliest memories of gaming, and Abobo's Big Adventure brought it all back. I can't tell if it's because games have changed or because the way I play them has, but that's not an experience I get enough of from games these days.

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You can play Abobo's Big Adventure yourself, for free, right here.

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