Abadox – NES
Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System
Release Date: March 1990
Publisher: Milton Bradley
Reviewed by FrozenMallet
I am not sure what it was that attracted me try out this game back in 1990. It couldn’t have been the box art that made me pull this one off the shelf of my local video game store and take it home for the weekend. It had to be the premise. The year is 5012 and your planet home planet of Abadox has been eaten by the alien life form Parasitis, think Galactus but instead of attacking the planet to feed on its natural resources he just swallows the planet whole. You are Second Lieutenant Nazal the lone survivor of the ironically named World Alive Force. Not only is your home planet been eaten but so has an orbiting ship with the beautiful princess Maria on board.
So what do you do? Do you run and hide? Try to find a new planet to make a home on? No way! You strap on your jetpack fly straight down that alien’s throat and blow that bastard up from the inside. Much like the 1987 film Innerspace starring Dennis Quaid. Except this is is no peaceful mission in the name of science, this is war! So really it is more like Wedge and Lando’s Death Star run at the end of Return of the Jedi.
Abadox is a six stage space shooter. The odd numbered stages scroll horizontally while the even numbered stages scroll vertically downward. This helps break up the monotony of the simple dodge, shoot and don’t die mechanic. Each stage has a checkpoint in the middle where you will fight a mid-level boss. You only have three lives to get through all six stages but the game is gracious enough to give you unlimited continues which will start you off at your last checkpoint. This really equates to having infinite lives because every time you lose a life you are tossed back to your last checkpoint anyway.
That’s right. Abadox isn’t like most shooters where if you die you simply start your next life exactly where you left off. Abadox holds a higher standard of skill… sort of. By giving the player unlimited continues the game is basically telling you that if you don’t finish this game it is only because you are slacker quitter. However with that being said you still must complete each half stage in one perfect run which is much easier said than done.
So obviously you’re going to need some help along the way. As you fight through your enemies you will occasionally come across a blue scorpion. Shooting this will give you the opportunity to collect one of the eight power-ups.
Super Speed Up- This one is self explanatory. You move faster. Of all the power-ups this is the only one that I would say you absolutely need to collect, especially in the later stages. There are just too many enemies throwing too much at you for you to avoid death without this one.
Tresbeam- They got creative with naming this one. It’s the spread weapon found in most shooters. This one gives you three shots at once with the top and bottom shots coming out at 45 degree angles.
Star Beam- Same as the Tresbeam but this one fires five shots at once. I just call this the spread upgrade.
Paradora Gun- This one gives you increased power to your shot and takes the form of large rings of energy.
Laser Gun- Slightly slower firing rate than your standard weapon but much more powerful. It doesn’t tear through your enemies like the Metal Blade in Mega Man 2 but it is still pretty good.
Twin Missiles- In addition to whatever your current weapon is two missiles will be fired as well. This power-up can be upgraded to homing missiles which is very convenient when the screen fills up with hectic action.
Orbiting Barrier Shield- This gives you a satellite which circles you. This can destroy enemies on impact or absorb enemy fire that would otherwise destroy you. This one can be upgraded three times giving you a total of four satellites at once.
Hi Density Power Protector- Rounding out the overly complex names for power-ups everyone is familiar with under simpler names already roll call this shield will allow you to take a hit without any damage. The Hi Density Power Protector can be upgraded twice to provide three layers of protection.
Abadox begins with you flying your ship along the outside of the alien Parasitis. The mid-level boss in this first stage is easily the most memorable of the game. You fight Bau, a doglike monster with his skeleton on the outside of his body. Bau isn’t very tough and after defeating him you will enter Parasitis’ mouth and past his teeth. The teeth section is one of the only points of the game where flicker is very noticeable. However since the teeth are mostly stationary this did not pose much of an issue.
Unfortunately after Bau the rest of the stage bosses become much less interesting. Most of them are merely creatures attached to walls with tentacles coming out. Also most of the bosses can be defeated by simply finding the safe spot on the screen and firing repeatedly if you have the homing missiles. If you don’t have the homing missiles a “stick and move” strategy should be adequate to get you through most of the bosses.
Stage 2 and 4 are both quite similar as these are the vertical stages where the challenge comes more from the tight maneuvers and perfectly placed enemies than the chaotic firefights of the horizontal stages. Stage 2 which is the throat was where I made the discovery that you cannot touch the walls (or floors or ceilings in horizontal stages). Stage 4 has you flying down into the stomach of the beast. I actually found stage 4 to be a bit easier than stage 2. Up to this point there was plenty of room to move and avoid obstacles but not here. These vertical stages require quick reflexes and memorization to complete.
Now to be honest I had no idea what to make of stage 3. You are back to flying horizontally and there is a whole mess of blue squiggly lines in the background. What part of the body was this? Well, according to the instruction manual this is the Deadly Forest of Blue Nerves. Ok… not much else they could have called it, I guess.
Stages 5 and 6 is the point where the game seems to take the whole alien guts theme and throw it out the window. These two stages look like you are flying within a machine. Was this supposed to be the game’s big reveal? Are we supposed to find out that the planet eating alien isn’t a life form at all but some kind of natural resource devouring machine? Well your guess is as good as mine because the game doesn’t bother to tell you and there is nothing in the instruction manual that explains it.
The final boss of the game (a creature attached to the wall with tentacles coming out) is frustrating but for the wrong reasons. I mentioned earlier that toward the end of the first stage there is some flicker that while noticeable isn’t a problem. That isn’t true for the final boss. Between your ship, the creature, the tentacles, and all the crap that is being thrown at you the flicker makes this fight so much more troublesome than it should be. I don’t know how many tries it took me to defeat it but this was the only time in the game that I thought I was fighting the game design more than the on screen enemy.
So after defeating the Flicker Beast you rescue Princess Maria but your work isn’t done yet, this alien (or machine) is going to blow up so you have to grab Maria and escape- Samus Aran style! Well not really, all this last section requires you to do is collect a few speed up power-ups and fly through the gaps in the walls that rush toward you. With your escape accomplished you see Parasitis blow up in the background and you fly away somewhere. Not home, you blew up your home planet when you blew up the alien with your world still inside of it. Probably should have thought that one through a little more…
Overall I would have to say that I liked this game. The enemies are varied across the six stages and it has an interesting premise. The game even has your sprite do a cool animation with his legs every time you fire, like he is reacting to his weapon’s recoil. Not to mention that the control is spot on. With the exception of my flicker complaint I never felt there was anything unfair about the challenge. Where Abadox really stands out is the soundtrack. Across all six stages the music in this game is 8-bit exceptional. Unfortunately with all of this being said Abadox is also completely forgettable and overshadowed by games such as Lifeforce or Gradius. But definitely a playable gem.
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