Developer(s) – Natsume
Publisher(s) – Natsume & Milton Bradley
Programmers – Kimiya Sasaski & Seiichi Tajima & Koichi Dekune
Rating – N/A
Released at around the mid-point of the third generation of gaming, Abadox is an exceptionally difficult rail-shooter, standing out for the fact that it may possibly be the most violent game ever developed due to its compellingly disturbing settings and individual level designs. Most critics have gone on record praising this game for its visuals but criticizing it for its almost complete lack of accessibility. After playing, I think I’d have to agree.
Graphics – 8/10
The visuals are the best aspect of this game. The settings are indeed disturbingly detailed, as the majority of them are made up of things like disembodied eyeballs and pulsing intestines. Even in long-since obsolete 8-bit graphics, it’s clear that Nintendo was willing to carry mature games on their consoles as they always have been, contrary to popular belief that their products are exclusively for kids. Some of the boss fights were also quite well thought out in terms of individual concept, making me personally more curious about the mythology behind this game.
Gameplay – 4/10
The game is an exceptionally hard rail-shooter, coming with all the inaccessibility of many other popular classic NES games, such as the original Mega Man series and the original trilogy of Castlevania games. To master it requires practice and awareness of individual enemy attack patterns and level structure; even during the game’s end sequence. It’s time that I am personally unwilling to put in; especially as it is an exceptionally short experience, even for an NES game. The only consolation is that there are checkpoints throughout the game.
Controls – 10/10
Since rail-shooters had long-since come into prominence at this point, there are no problems with the control scheme of this game, at least. Movement is somewhat stiff, but that is what adds to the challenge for those who may actually be looking to put their skills to the test; to those players who like to play games that have been made hard for the sake of them being hard.
Lifespan – 2/10
The game can be made to last much longer than a standard playthrough, but for the wrong reasons given the nature of its challenge, but one playthrough for experienced players can take merely 20 minutes to complete. No incentive is offered throughout the game, except for those who may have cared about having the highest score, and may have been in competition with one another. There were games released at the time, which would combine elements of both rail-shooting and platforming, such as Robodemons, so to me, this is a classic case of there being limitations in not technological advancement, but developer imagination.
Storyline – 4/10
The story involves the Galactic Military’s best fighter, Second Lieutenant Nazal, on a mission to defeat an alien organism called the Parasitis, who has eaten the planet Abadox, and rescue Princess Maria, who has also been consumed by the alien. There isn’t a great deal of the story element in the game itself, with the exception of two cutscenes, since the story would most often be detailed within the instruction manual at this time. But even so, it’s essentially just another variation on what the story of Super Mario; the hero defeating the villain to save the damsel in distress. At this point, that entire story arc had already been thoroughly exhausted, but we had games like this to rub salt in the wound, it would seem.
Originality – 5/10
The most unique thing about this game is how well the settings stand out from most other games of the time, and even most other games of today. In terms of both gameplay and story, however, it doesn’t stand out at all; and if it’s level of challenge can be used as a catalyst to differentiate it from other games, then it would be entirely for the wrong reasons in my opinion.
Overall, Abadox, whilst having disturbingly well-designed visuals, is far too inaccessible for any one player to derive any entertainment out of it for any extended amount of time. It is challenging to the point of it being nigh-on unreasonable, and whilst the conceptual design made me care somewhat about what back-story there might have been given a bit more imagination on the developer’s part, the main story did very little to pique my curiosity.