Abadox by Natsume, released in Japan in 1989 and the following year stateside for the NES.
So, what is this strange little shooter all about? Doesn't look very hot - certainly isn't terribly visually appealing at first glance. Shooters should be colorful, detailed, and fun - Abadox just looks brown, orange, and.. veiny. And the box art is among the worst I have ever seen. Upon firing up the game, the player is greeted with immediate challenge, sludgy and stiff controls, an unappealing main character, and lack of auto-fire capability.
Many of those who get that far into this game are likely to dismiss it following that less-than-stellar first impression. That's a shame, because Abadox is certainly more than just another slapped-together game! Sure, it's "just another shooter" and it looks like a low-grade ripoff of the much more stylish Life Force. But those who spend a little time getting to know their Abadox will be in for a treat - a well-designed shooter and a true challenge, this appears to be Natsume's first foray into the game industry (from my uneducated standpoint) and they really wanted to make a splash.
The game has a lot of heavy challenge on par with shooters like R-Type, though again, not as stylish or aesthetically pleasing. You almost could argue there's not many reasons why Abadox can't go toe-to-toe with a game like that, but certain deign choices really prevented it from getting there. Again, R-Type - also a game known for being drippy and gooey (remember level 2?) had a nicer overall layer of polish and a more satisfying main character. Abadox sports some wonderfully intense challenge and design, but the price of admission is just a bit too high.
When this title was first announced, I believe it was billed as "a product of Natsume - new company started by former employees of Capcom and Konami," sounds like a dream team right? This isn't hard to see, and though history has really forgotten Abadox, what it has left behind is a challenging, good-looking 8-bit game which still is worth a (patient) modern gamer's attention. Dig this one up and see how well you can handle a vert shmup that scrolls downward!