1982 was a big year for gaming. It was the year that the first "next gen" systems started to come out, Colecovision, Atari 5200, etc. It was also the year that Donkey Kong sold more units than McDonalds sold hamburgers. That game bred a whole slew of imitators, which all had in common that they were four screens long.
Arcadia's entry into the four screen adventure game leaves a lot lacking. Part of the charm of those old games is that there was some kind of story line, save the girl from the gorilla, something to that effect. The plot of Hobo seems a little hard to figure out.
In the first screen the Hobo (which looks like Mario from 2600 Donkey Kong) is merely trying to cross the street. This screen is actually quite impressive for an Arcadia game; All of the cars are in motion at the same time. Your little guy has more than two frames of animation also. Problem is since it's in this three quarters perspective the controls have been switched to that perspective too. So pressing "up" doesn't move you up, it moves you to the side. You end up dying a few times until you figure out the control scheme. The goal is to make it to the red piece of sidewalk, get hit by a car and two little paramedics run out into traffic with a stretcher. The traffic has no problem stopping for those guys. Why you don't just use the crosswalk is not explained.
Apparently after this screen you get busted for jaywalking, but instead of just writing you a ticket the cops throw you in prison for life. Damn fascist pigs, just no respect for the homeless insane. But thankfully security at this prison is extremely lax. Thus the next screen has you busting out of jail, which consists of climbing up ladders inbetween patrols of prison guards. Same wackiness with the controls ensues making the screen a lot harder than it actually is. Get caught and there's a little cinema scene where the cops throw you back in jail, and probably beat the crap out of you too. Why they don't just shoot you I don't know.
Third screen has you on the run, escaping from the police and crossing a river by illegally stowing away on passing river ferries. In a nice rip off of Frogger you walk across the boats in an attempt to get to the other side and unbridled freedom. At least I think they're river ferries, it's kind of hard to tell. They look more like elongated saltine crackers. For some reason in this screen the Hobo turns into a teeny tiny stickman that becomes easy to lose track of. This screen is actually a lot easier than the other two because pressing UP actually makes your guy go up. Get to the top and the Hobo does a little dance. The end.
The graphics are good, for the Arcadia. There are a lot of sprites moving around at once. Thing is that's all they do, move. You don't interact with them in any other way, no jumping over stuff, no hitting things with hammers, all you do is walk and occasionally climb a ladder. The same Arcadia "Bizzonk!" serves as the game's only sound effect along with a little tune made up of "Bizzonks!" when you beat the game, which you will, probably in your first try. The thing about games like Donkey Kong or Congo Bongo is that even though they were only four screens long there was enough stuff happening to make it different each time. Here it's just memorizing an extremely easy pattern which any modern gamer should be able to do with no problem.
Sad thing is this game is probably the best thing Arcadia has to offer.
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