Publisher: Milton Bradley
Released: March 1990
US Cartridge ID: NES-A3-USA
Supported Peripherals: Controller
ROM Size: 2 megabit
Mapper: MMC1 (128k PRG, 128k CHR)
Long before achieving their first major commercial success with the Harvest Moon series (with the inaugural entry released in 1997), Abadox – The Deadly Inner War was developer Natsume’s second game to see a stateside release. Arriving four months after the Taito publication of the niche RPG title Dungeon Magic: Swords of Element, Abadox broke onto the US market with a heavy marketing push, complete with a television commercial campaign that terrorized children nationwide. Capitalizing on the popularity of the arcade shooter and the resurgence of the horror movie in the 80s, Natsume merged these two concepts into a singular work, resulting in an extremely difficult game proudly emblazoned with the most graphic visuals ever depicted in an officially licensed US NES game.
Abadox -The Deadly Inner War is a scrolling arcade-style shooter, similar in its sensibilities to 1942, Gun-Nac, and Gradius. Set in the distant future, the titular planet faces imminent destruction by Parasitis, a creature of unimaginable size that can take the shape of anything it consumes. As Lieutenant Nazal is waiting for his ship to be repaired on a nearby space station, he watches in horror as the giant being inhales the entire planet of Abadox, along with a satellite hospital where the beautiful Princess Maria is currently staying. The entire military force retaliates, but is easily crushed. Nazal, the lone survivor, races into Parasitis’ body, for the sake of his people, his planet, and his true love.
Nazal must enter Parasitis’ body through its mouth, navigate the dangers of the digestive tract, and destroy the core in order to save everything that he cares about. The six stages each represent an area of the body to be traversed, including the mouth, the throat, the stomach, the intestines, and finally the colon, from which Nazal must make his escape. Stages alternate between scrolling horizontally and vertically; against convention, vertical-scroll stages start from the top and constantly pan down, reversing the traditional standard while providing an unexpectedly welcome twist on an otherwise standard genre convention.
Abadox is an extremely challenging game, often forcing Nazal into claustrophobic chambers brimming with enemies and incoming fire. Nazal himself is a large character sprite, and many corridors are just wide enough to permit him passage; expert handling is required in many such situations, as colliding with a wall will result in instant death, and will send Nazal back to the last checkpoint. Like the Gradius series, power-ups are collected to increase the chances of survival, and are absolutely necessary as the starting configuration is wholly insufficient for the majority of the challenges posed. Powers include speed increases, weapon power-ups, missiles, and shields; one hit by any enemy is fatal, however, and all of the accumulated upgrades are lost upon dying, putting the player at a serious disadvantage.
The graphics are impressive – most of the neon colored backgrounds pulse and squirm as one would expect of organs, and the enemy design is disturbingly grotesque and creative. While the game is often accused of mimicking Life Force (and this is true, to a certain degree), it pushes the boundaries much further in terms of graphic content. A zombie dog (with some rotted flesh still intact) flies at the player in defense of the first interior area’s entrance, a writhing tongue lines the floor of one area, and another stage concludes with a battle against an eyeball staring out from behind a large line of teeth (as an ovipositor lodged in a man’s throat provides support fire). From stage three onward there is a constant overabundance of enemies and bullets on-screen at once. Besides requiring finely honed twitch-instincts, the consequences of such an active playing field are two-fold: the game often slows down, making avoiding bullets a significantly more manageable task; sprites also begin to exhibit a serious amount of flicker when too much is happening at once, and though rarely problematic, can occasionally result in Nazal being struck with a bullet that was obscured from view.
The music is excellent, being composed by Konami veteran Kyouhei Sada, responsible for the Contra, Blades of Steel and The Adventures of Bayou Billy soundtracks. In his first project for Natsume, Sada ably complements the perverse nature of the visual presentation with tracks that amplify the sense of tension with a heavy concentration on bass and irregular drum rhythms, all topped by catchy synth leads that are comparable in quality to those of his other works.
For those with a lot of patience, Abadox presents a fair challenge, but the difficulty level will quickly become an obstacle to all but the most persistent and dedicated of players. Incredibly fun and extremely unique, Abadox – The Deadly Inner War is an easy recommendation for those looking for to play an NES title that makes no compromises to its excellent gameplay core as it delivers its own unique brand of fantastically realized visceral flair.
|Abadox – The Deadly Inner War
Milton Bradley, 3/1990
|地獄のインナーウォーズ アバドックス (Jigoku no Innaa Woozu Abadokkusu)
Hell’s Inner Wars – Abadox