Explosive Street Rampage: An Up Close Look at Hobo

Hobo is a successful side scrolling beat-em-up created by developer SeethingSwarm. Currently, the game is being sponsored by ArmorGames. Hobo was originally inspired by another flash game called "Dad 'n Me", aiming to deliver a similar flavor of comic violence to browser gamers. Eventually, the game gained enough traction to earn a following of its own.

This first game in the now famous Hobo series is also called as Hobo Brawl. The game was first uploaded to Newgrounds on October 29, 2008 and won the Daily Feature award the following day. Since then, Hobo has been getting a lot of positive feedbacks from players (which naturally, caught our attention.), and is featured by a number of gaming sites to date.

Homeless but not Plotless

The game opens with the main character, a hobo, sleeping peacefully at a dumpsite. Moments later, a policeman decides to wake him up by hitting him with a baton and asking him to leave, pointing at the huge sign: "City Dump: Keep Out". Hurt and badly bruised, the hobo snaps into an angry frenzy. The enraged and homeless madman now takes to the streets as he takes his anger out on every person he encounters, starting with this policeman.

The plot of this game may be quite simple, but we enjoyed every moment playing the game. Since there is plenty of focus on venting out anger on less productive means, you can expect to see plenty of happily accomplished, but essentially pointless, violence. We highly recommend this game to players simply want to release stress from work and chill.

These Streets Look Dirty

The game environment and sounds were well thought of and matches the plot - perfect for hobo living. Background sounds of the game also had good transitions wherein the background sound would change whenever the hobo is engaged to attack, and would switch back once the brawl was over. The characters and environment were nicely drawn and the artist paid attention even to small details (but he missed a few, apparently). The players may opt to toggle graphics quality, particularly for players who encounter lags while playing the game. Also, the movement of objects and characters in the game were smooth and somewhat realistic like the city dump truck.

We did notice some minor details about the truck. When the truck goes right, the text written on the truck appears mirrored -probably because the image of the truck was simply flipped 180 degrees sideways when it goes right. This is probably due to the fact that the original orientation of the truck was left when it was drawn and the developers decided it was easier to re-use the image instead of making a new one.

Moves Like a Madman

The game's controls are pretty easy to remember: hit 'A' - to punch, pick up and throw objects such as glass bottles and trash cans; 'S' - to kick or glide; 'P' - to pause the game and view unlocked combos; 'Q' - to toggle the graphics quality; and the arrow keys to move around the game. The 'A' and 'S' keys give combo attacks, which may be unlocked as the game progresses. These combo attacks would allow the hobo to attack his opponent by means of barfing, burping, farting, and other "disgusting manners". Hitting the left and right arrow keys twice would let the hobo run sideways. Just like other online flash games, the player may choose the level of difficulty of the game: easy, normal, and hard. The game also provides the player with passwords in game checkpoints (there are three checkpoints for this sequel of Hobo) which may be used to start a particular level in the game in case the hobo dies or the player quits the game. This is to avoid the need of starting from the beginning of the game when the player resumes playing. The life bar of the hobo is replenished after every game checkpoint. Players may pick up items in the game as mentioned earlier, and throw these items to attack their opponents. Overall, the instructions in this game are straightforward, making it easy to play.

After the hobo's first brawl with the policeman, he also had brawls with the locals, city trash collectors, gangsters, other policemen, even with the city dump truck. After his final brawl with the police, he ends up in prison, which would give way to the second sequel of the Hobo game series, Hobo Prison Brawl.

Control-wise, Hobo quite reminded us of Tekken Force (from Namco Bandai's fighting game, Tekken) wherein the 'A' and 'S' were the combo keys and the arrow keys were the joystick. There are also other similarities between Tekken and Hobo such as in the user interface; the style of the life bar displayed on top of the screen along with the character's picture is much in line with the ones used for Tekken Force.

For the most part, the game's controls are tight and responsive. However, there were a few instances where we had difficulty controlling the character. At one time, attacking the city dump truck (the one with the graphic that flips) at the end part of the game causes a bit of jarring with the controls. We found a good strategy that involved moving up and down the screen so as to avoid being run over by the truck (and also to avoid being hit by the trash cans thrown by the truck). However, the hobo was sometimes respond slowly to the up and down controls, as compared to when we move the hobo to the left or the right.

Continuing Your Progress

The password provided for every checkpoint of the game is a convenient thing because players do not have to start all over when they lose. This is especially important when the level of difficulty of the game is set to hard -or when someone decides to wipe out your browser history. Passwords get you back into the game without the need for saves, which plenty of players would certainly appreciate.

Things to Add

We do believe that this game deserves to have a Parental Guidance warning upon loading of the game since it has a violent theme and shows improper acts. The game experience would also have been better if the creator had incorporated more levels, and was able to include a full-screen feature.

The Verdict

Honestly, we do not know why this beat 'em up game would not get a good score. To sum up things up, the instructions were straightforward, controls were easy to remember, and the graphics and sounds were excellent. Add in the naughty, and oftentimes, improper humor in this game - the hobo's different combos alone deserves a PG rating of its own, making the game slapstick, crude but essentially funny in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way. There was not a single dull moment in the game, which made us finish this game in one sitting. After playing Hobo, we now understand why this game received numerous positive feedbacks from gamers. This game definitely is worth a try. If the small details as mentioned earlier were fixed, then the game would have definitely gotten a higher score. And right now, the only thing killing the game's replay value is the fact that we are looking forward to playing the sequel. We give this game an abusive cop's 90/100.