by: Dr. Boogie
When talking about games with a distinctly gory motif, it's easy to think of modern titles like Splatterhouse and Silent Hill, but I want to pay tribute to a lesser known title from the 8-bit era. It's slim pickings in that particular time period, thanks in large part to Nintendo's strict content guidelines. Mostly, such games were not seen outside of Japan (or they were unlicensed games, like Chiller), and that's what makes this particular title even more of an anomaly.
Just as Megaman received some hideous box art, so too does poor Abadox. As if things weren't confusing enough with the Milton Bradley logo at the top, you're given the impression that you'll be playing an effete astronaut wearing a Christmas-colored space suit that fights an angry slug, a purple smokestack, and a flying pinball bumper. Partial correctness, at least as far as the intense-looking slug goes.
I'll let the wordless introduction speak for itself:
It's you versus a giant grinning meatball in space. Simple, right?
The longer version of the story is that an immense roving space parasite name Parasitis has consumed an entire planet. A planet named Planetitis? No, it's the titular Abadox. Also, Parasitis also consumed a princess named Maria. And how do you solve a problem like Maria? With guns.
If all of this sounds a bit familiar, that's because it's essentially the plot of Salamander, Konami's side-scrolling series about a lone pilot taking on a planet-devouring space monster. Except for the princess bit. Where Abadox really differentiates itself from Salamander is the degree to which it commits to the whole living planet motif.
Take a look:
It's the first stage, and already, you're fighting giant eyeballs and floating skulls on the surface of a giant brain. Or something. And in the background, the wreckage of all those full-sized spaceships that couldn't hope to accomplish what one astronaut with a gun could do in 45 minutes.
Provided you aren't stopped by the guard dog...
The first boss is probably the most ordinary, even if it is a skinless dog with some kind of laser-shooting parasite on its back. The manual names this meaty dog creature Bau. Can his compatriot, Wau, be far behind?
One wonders why a living planet would need a guard dog, particularly when you consider what the dog is guarding.
From a distance, it seems the only way inside the planet-sized monster is through the mouth. Can you imagine if you had a tiny guard dog protecting your mouth from intruders? How about a second monster at the back of your throat:
Behold, the deadly back-of-the-throat guardian, Uvulo!
Or Deathface, if you believe what the manual says. Yes, it's a face, and it does deal death via lasers of the eye and mouth variety. Still, the eyes popping out to hunt you independent of the face make it seem like an eye-related pun was in order.
This boss keeps unwanted elements from going down the throat with a violent spasm. Why not call him "Gag Reflex"?
Squirming down the tight passages of the monster's throat, you'd expect to be accosted by a monstrous pair of tonsils, maybe with a face on them or something. What you get are tiny heads and bloody, groping arms. That's what makes Parasitis so deadly: it surprises you.
We're not even past the stomach, but we're already running into giant tapeworms! Wait a minute... is that tapeworm made out of eyeballs? I'm beginning to think this game has some sort of preoccupation with eyeballs. Or maybe it's some kind of postmodern critique on video games as a visual medium. You marvel at the gory graphics, but this creature can see them in ways you can only imagine. But can the sight of all this mayhem satisfy this creature's endless hunger? No, because its stomach is also made of eyeballs.
And what about this creature? Is it a giant mouth with an eye inside, or a giant eye with teeth on its eyelid? I'm going with the latter, in light of the fact that it spews spiky eye boogers at you.
Thank goodness the manual is there to give this tangled mass of ropey white strands some context: It's a forest of nerves, you see. Deep within the stomach. What better place than a forest to have killer plants... with eyeballs. And what's that flying around the otherwise empty corridor? More eyeballs. It never ends, people. If it's a monster, it probably has a crazy eyeball or two, unless it's just a flying eyeball.
But then Parasitis throws you this curveball: some kind of shark thing that spews bullets. No eyeballs at all on this thing. Without any eyeballs, where am I supposed to shoot it? Oh right, the open mouth.
Foolish blind shark. Your endless bullet spewing will be your undoing!
This boss was so big he couldn't even fit in the tunnel he's defending. Believe it or not, the head with the mouthful of serrated teeth doesn't actually do anything. All the work is done by that thing that bursts out of its chest. And what's that I see at the center of that weird growth? Is it another giant eyeball?
Thank goodness. I had gone almost a full 60 seconds without seeing one.
At this point, I've seen so many eyeballs that those blobs of blue mucus on the walls started looking like lazily-drawn eyeballs. Thankfully, one of the blue powerup transporter creatures zoomed onto the scene to keep me grounded. That's what a real monster eye looks like, I said with reassurance.
What is this crab even looking at? Is he keeping an eye on the next boss down the line, blinking to him in morse code that he's taking a few too many bullets to the mouth? When it's time to get busy, he flips over and kets his eye do the talking, and his eye only speaks the language of bullets!
Right here we have the second most remarkable boss of the whole journey: the cilia monster. When you see it, you think that the gaping mouth must be its weak point. Oh how wrong you are, idiot.
No, before you can even fight this boss, you have to take a tour of his massive frame:
Now that you've seen everything, all that's left to do is shoot him in his wormy sphincter until he suffers a fatal prolapse.
Some may think it odd that the monster's anus is an eye. Well, that's what happens when you call it a browneye and nobody is around to explain what a euphemism is.
Here's where the game starts to lose focus a little: the fleshy, pulsating walls of the previous levels give way to a vast mechanical tunnel, allegedly meant to represent Parasitis' intestinal tract. I guess if you consume an entire planet, there's bound to be parts that take longer to digest/fill with eye-based boss monsters.
Look at that! Now Parasitis is aping your thing! Three giant spacemen with guns (and banana-shaped heads) to your one. Are you going to let that stand? Not if your long list of active powerups has anything to say about it. Don't have any? Then prepare to suck it.
The good news is that each of them has only one eye, which wreaks havoc on their depth perception.
At the end of the stage, you must do battle with Rom: Space Knight! I was as surprised as anyone to see this obscure Marvel hero making a guest appearance deep within Parasitis' vast mechanical bowels, but here he is, shooting a bunch of tiny blue balloons at you. Was that a part of his comic?
Deeper still into this literal eating machine and even the walls start coming together to kill you. Also, the whole game starts getting a bit bullshitty with little green fireballs that appear out of nowhere and zip towards you. Maybe I'm just mad because having your toughest enemies be tiny fireballs is a missed opportunity to whip up another hideous abomination to break away from the mechanical theme. I long for a return to the days of skinless dogs and fleshy, groping arms!
We've seen plenty of eyeballs already, but I guess I can't be too choosy. Still, I'm disappointed that the penultimate boss is just a pentad of eyeballs. And those fucking fireballs...
Thankfully, the designers pulled it together for the final boss:
Look at that. This boss has everything: a toothy maw, lobster claws on purple tentacles, a couple green eyes (although one appears busted already), and even the image of a guy crossing his arms in disapproval, as if to say, "You think that cruddy space suit is a match for this? You. Thought. Wrong."
And just when you think dodging claws and projectiles in a downright claustrophobic space was tough, he busts out one last surprise:
Ghosts. Fucking ghosts! And old-timey, guy-wearing-a-bedsheet ghosts, no less. It's like everything you fear rolled into a single boss! Are there some creepy spiders tucked away somewhere, too? Maybe a weird little kid singing nursery rhymes in the corner? But I digress.
Blowing up the final boss destroys the core of the evil monster and leads to a edge-of-your-seat race to escape the creature's self destruction.
What? Oh right, there was a princess in this one. You have to ditch your gun and tote the princess to safety because what would we do without royalty? We certainly would have far fewer reasons to carouse about inside the bodies of giant space parasites, that's for sure.
And so, our hero escapes with the princess and Parasitis explodes. It's a happy ending, until you realize that Parasitis consumed your home planet prior to the events of the game, and now it's pretty much just you and the princess, adrift in space. Was it all worth it, o nameless space hero, risking your life for the last scion of a planet whose partially digested fragments have been scattered among the stars?
Wait... the manual says his name was "Second Lieutenant Nazal". Second Lieutenant Nazal? And he didn't enter through the monster's nose? Who knows what kind of eyeball monsters were hiding in there! And I'll bet there's a face right at the back of the sinus, too.
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