When I first laid eyes on video footage of this game in action, I was both optimistic and kind of confused. I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of De Mambo until when I got the hands-on experience needed for review. It’s clear that the game wants to be a multiplayer slam-fest not unlike other indie titles on the market like Astro Duel Deluxe. Yet, even after playing, I still wasn’t entirely sure if it managed to hit that mark.
De Mambo is a simple game, all things considered. This can include its visual style, which consists of pixel art typical for its caliber. The simplicity goes even further with the playable characters, as they are nothing but severed heads. Nevertheless, there are a lot of kooky visual effects that help keep things visually interesting; my favorite’s when the screen acts like it’s losing its signal. I do wish the stages themselves looked more interesting, though. Aligned rows and placements of breakable rocks could only be appealing for so long.
The sound design checks out finely. There’s a variety of NES-like background music tracks in place, and plenty of sound effects play when necessary actions occur. They’re not particularly memorable, but they serve their purposes. If anything, I just don’t think it has the same sort of dazzle that the visuals could provide.
So, De Mambo is a four-player smackdown where players use their (controlled) heads to destroy blocks and knock each other off the arenas a la Super Smash Bros. De Mambo‘s fighting techniques are minimal, however. It all depends on you shoving your opponent and charging that shove for different effects. The game tries to play this up as its greatest strength, I think it comes off more as a weakness. My multiplayer ventures for game reviews have lately been shared with my younger brother, Jake. I managed to get him into Astro Duel, but not De Mambo.
We tried making the most of it, but the shove-y attacks and uninteresting stages limited how much fun there was to have. In the end, Jake was rather unconvinced, and I could understand why. Weirdly, I found myself more interested in the single-player portion. Even then, I feel it could be better. There could be some legitimate challenging levels, but sometimes the bite-sized structure felt like a repetitive WarioWare game rather than a more in-depth platforming escapade. Lastly, the survival mode was alright, but it probably should have been a lot more hectic than it was.
Overall, De Mambo is okay. It’s nothing that would impress anyone, but it’s not going to disgust, either. Maybe you could proceed with caution, and have a few friends ready to play with should you buy the game. As for me, I would like to see the developers try and build something deeper and/or more dynamic with this formula.