EGX Hands-On: De Mambo

Last week at EGX REZZED I was lucky enough to get hands on time with The Dangerous Kitchen’s debut game – De Mambo. Currently in development for PC, PS4 and Vita, the easiest way I can describe the game is Break Out meets Smash Bros, if Smash Bros were made for the SNES. But if I’m honest that doesn’t quite cover it either.

Each player has three lives and a single button to attack, hold the button longer and your attack power increases. The aim of the game is to knock your opponents off the side of the level and be the last one standing. (Well rolling). The player characters are basically morphing balls that sort of reminded me of putty on the Amiga, then after a couple more drinks I came to the stark realisation that they were the heads of dead Teletubbies, caught in some crazed limbo. Forced to battle each other until the big baby in the sky allowed them to return to the Teletubbie kingdom. OK…maybe not.

It’s simple but incredibly effective, and certainly has the potential to be the next addictive craze. In retrospect it’s a little lazy to compare it to Smash Bros as the destructible environments really added a nice tactical element to proceedings. Do you just blindly chip away at the scenery and hope you can smash the other players off once it’s all revealed, or try and protect parts of the environment to create a shaky platform to save yourself?

These are questions you have to ask yourself whilst your opponents ignore your thoughts and knock you into the stratosphere, because you really don’t have time to think in the middle of a fight like this.

What I liked most though was the inclusion of the loser rail. Once you’ve run out of lives, rather than just sit there twiddling your thumbs and waiting for everyone else to finish the round, your little-head-Teletubbie-thing is sent to a sin bin called the losers rail which extends round the borders of the level. You can then guide your now much larger looking ball round it, bashing into other losers in an attempt to consume any other player that gets too close to you. This not only screws over the competition, but also puts you back in the game. It’s a simple yet ingenious mechanic that juggles up the action just enough to allow whoever’s winning to never feel safe and actually makes losing fun by turning it into a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos.

As De Mambo’s debut trailer states; De Mambo is not a western. It also has nothing to do with Cuban dancing whatsoever. But this dance of death is still a rather enticing one. A curious blend of easy to play but difficult to master, no frills multiplayer with, some rather ingenious tweaks to the Smash Bros. formula, that, from what I’ve seen so far, will no doubt mix well with a few friends, a fine bottle of spiced rum and a large pizza when it finally comes to PC and consoles in the near future.

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