Abadox (is Pretty Good)

Scrolling shooters are not rare or special. Pick any console you want and you’ll find dozens if not hundreds. They come in horizontal scrolling, vertical scrolling, possibly even diagonal scrolling. And don’t forget some games have scrolling to the right and others have scrolling to the left or scrolling up or down. What can be said about shooters, then? Well, in short, every direction has been scrolled into and lot’s of things have been shot. So now you’re probably wondering, “What can be said about Abadox?” Well, as it turns out, a lot.

Abadox (U)_title

This intro is super subtle yet does a great job to set the mood: you against the planet.

The first thing you’ll notice when you power up that NES will surely be the amazingly hardcore title. I’m no expert on rating goo and goo-like substances but the Abadox title, dripping with whatever that stuff is covered with is the best NES alien goo I have ever seen. It is just amazing. The title is almost too awesome and feels a bit intimidating. Don’t worry though, as the game is, at the very least, as awesome as the title. As the introduction shows, you, the loyal player, control a lone spaceman on a quest to infiltrate a giant alien planet creature to do… something awesome. Press start a couple times and send spaceman on his way!

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Space-guy on the surface of the dreaded planet-alien.

Abadox starts you in a horizontal scrolling scrolling level with awesome music. The game wastes no time in throwing creatures and power-ups your way. The first thing you’ll notice is how intense this game can be, graphically. In just the first level you enter the mouth of the creature and pass by it’s teeth and tongue.In a wholly-unoriginal-but-still-interesting twist, Abadox will switch between horizontal scrolling and downward vertical scrolling . The vertical sections play identically to the horizontal sections but in a different direction. It’s a nice switch in perspective that adds a lot to the fun and mood.

The 8-bit graphics feel right at home and give the whole experience a perfectly creepy vibe. Whenever I play this game, I am in awe of the whole look and feel of the game. Every level is filled with strange or gruesome creatures, especially the bosses. Getting to the bosses might be a bit of a problem, though not as bad as you’d expect from a shooter.

While many shooters are intimidating in difficulty, Abadox starts slow and does a pretty good job of raising the difficulty rather linearly. There is little to no randomness involved which means you can easily begin to learn the levels and get much better at it. If you are familiar with shooters, Abadox should feel familiar in controls and gameplay; you shouldn’t have any problems. Even after not having played it for several years I was able to get to level 3 on one life just after two tries. That says something about the difficulty, although I’m not quite sure what. Regardless of difficulty, Abadox is worth getting better at just to see the whole game.

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The pulsating organ stuff and sudden grasping muscle-arms… Abadox is made of nightmares.

Abadox manages to be a very cohesive shooter experience. It does an incredibly good job at feeling varied. Each level has it’s own aesthetic and you really will feel like you as progressing through this giant creature’s body. Specifically, the vertical scrolling levels greatly add to the feeling that you’re traveling deep, down into the bowels of the huge creature. You travel into it’s mouth, through it’s digestive tract, pass by some other organs, visit its… robot factory (remember that part of the body?) and eventually come out of it’s alien-planet butt (so so it seems). In addition to the cool areas, each level has a wicked-rad song, although some you’ll hear more than once.

Shooters can be boiled down to two different aspects: shoot things and don’t get hit. While Abadox doesn’t push the boundaries of the genre, it plays very well. In addition to shooting things and avoiding getting hit, there are plenty of power-ups to pick up along the way. The main weapons are spread guns or lasers but there are also several additional power-ups. Missles, shields and small satellite orbs that block shots all expand your viable not-die tactics. It all makes for an enjoyable alien-shooting experience.

The controls are tight, the graphics are great and the music is rocking: Abadox is much more than just a competent shooter, it’s a great example of a lesser-known, high-quality title in the NES library. It’s a tough game, but not too hard to consider it unfair. It’s worth a play just to see all the creepy aliens but even better to play for it’s well crafted experience and gameplay. Play this game or at least watch someone else play it. You’ll be glad you did.

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As a little treat, here’s a gallery of all the awesome bosses in Abadox. Yes, I used invincibility to record this.

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