Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Review: Abadox (NES)

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Console: Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
Released: 1990
Developer: Natsume
Publisher: Milton Bradley
Famicom? Yes (as Abadox)
Instruction Manual: Not Necessary – Link
Difficulty: Insane
Played it as a child? No
Value: $0.87 used $34.99 new (
Price (eBay): Couldn’t find a listing
Digital Release? No

What are you supposed to do?
You control Second Lieutenant Nazal through various levels in a side-scrolling and top down vertical view shooter.  Various aliens and creatures will enter the screen in an attempt to shoot you down with bullets or by colliding with you.  In addition the level itself will feature obstacles that jut out of the walls, block your path with destructable walls that regenerate and create small pathways you must navigate.  Throughout levels you can collect weapons and power-ups that assist you in overcoming enemies and obstacles.


There are so many reasons to love Abadox, especially as a kid.  Look at that blood-soaked logo, the various body-part oriented enemies or even the fact that the entire game takes in an alien’s insides.  Not only that, it’s a shooter that switches between being a side-scroller and a vertical shooter, an aspect of my favorite shoot-em-up of all time: Salamander.  In fact, Abadox has been rightfully compared to being an essential clone of Life Force, the adapted version of Salamander that released on the NES in the US.  So why does the very mention of the game now fill me with so many chills that I refuse to play that game ever again?  Well, that’s simply because Abadox is a horrible game that lacks the merit to be compared with any of these gems.

Looking at the talent behind the game, it’s truly a hit/miss line-up, but don’t worry, none of the efforts are worthwhile.  Natsume developed the game, which on the NES was nothing more than a cloning machine including this title and Shadow of the Ninja, which can easily be mistaken for Ninja Gaiden.  In addition the music comes from Kyouhei Sada, who’s known for Konami greats Contra and Rush’n’Attack, both titles I appreciated the soundtrack of, but in Abadox seems like a forgetful and lax effort.  Perhaps Sada needed to fix a car or something and took the job as a weekend paycheck, either way it doesn’t even sound like the same composer.  This doesn’t really explain why the game is so horrible, so allow me to rail this game to ground.

Abadox is fiercely difficult.  I know all NES games are inherantly hard, but there is a large volume of these games, many touted as very difficult, that I have been able to beat and this game is harder than almost any game I’ve played.  I think it has six  levels and they are all unfairly difficult and from what I can tell purposely designed to kill you.  This may work if you had an immediate respawn and it were a quarter-chugging arcade game but this is a home console title.  Every time you die you lose all your power-ups and go back to a checkpoint, of which each lengthy level only appears to have one around the halfway point.  When you go back your character (ship) loses it’s speed, which is almost crucial to completing the game.  Thanks to all this Abadox becomes a 1-life game – one that needs to be beaten without dying – but all of its unfair trickery and left-field curve balls ensure that you won’t be seeing much beyond the first and second stage.  I remember renting this game as a kid and being all psyched because of the screenshots and box art, but not being able to get to the first boss.  After nearly an hour and only reaching level 3, I have completely given up on this game forever.  I even tried the Japanese Famicom version with hopes that it might be easier (often times difficulty is tweaked when localized), but it’s unfortunately the same game.  It’s not fair, the fleshy bloody effects are a gimmick and the game design is abhorrent.  As a result, I highly recommend it’s much easier and more fair counterpart: Life Force.

Written by Fred Rojas

January 24, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Posted in NES, Reviews

Tagged with , , ,

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