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This Page Updated:
Sat Jan 24, 1998

Stat Box
Title: Abuse
Developers: Crack dot Com
Genre: Side Scrolling Action
Release Date: Finished

Page 1: Alien Blasting Action
By: Evan Jones

This wild side scrolling action game by the small company, Crack dot Com, takes the side scrolling genre where it has never been before. Laughed at by many, games like Super Mario Brothers were really the beginning of the arcade craze that has created games like Doom, Quake and Duke Nukem' 3D. In fact, Duke Nukem 1 and 2 were side scrolling games. Many people believe that these games should stay on the console systems, but Abuse proves them wrong.

For a game that is nearly two years old, Abuse is still a wild ride and it deserves more recognition then it has earned. Abuse was far ahead of its time, and is still the most advanced side scrolling game in existance. It deserved more recognition than it earned. Many games that are truly great pass the gaming world by because they are created by small companies. Crack dot Com may be a small company, but it has produced a game that can beat the best from many large publishers.

The graphics of this game are simply acceptable by today's standards, but in its time they were terrific and smooth as silk. The art looks like it has been taken right out of Aliens. With two levels of scrolling and very detailed levels and backgrounds, making the leap into the dark, mysterious and freaky world of Abuse is not very hard. When you start up Abuse you can configure the game's gamma correction to correct for the differences between the graphic artist's monitor and yours, a configuration that is often found in high end computer graphics programs but is being found more frequently in games as time passes.

Abuse is very addictive. Blasting aliens is such enjoyable activity. There is a simplicity about Abuse which makes it easy to play for 5 minutes at a time, but there is a feel for it that will make crave more.

The sounds are top notch quality. When an alien roars and leaps at you out of no where you will jump out of your seat. The ambient sounds and a hint of suspense that put you on edge. All these things are all fairly standard fair for a competitive side scrolling game, what makes Abuse so different? Well, the answer is in the control.

Abuse's controls are very non-standard and are a little tricky to learn, but become very intuitive after some use, and gives you the type of pinpoint accuracy that other side scolling action games are missing. The mouse controls your aiming and firing, while the keyboard controls moving and switching weapons. This gives you a 360 degree aim that is independant from your movement. You can perform cool moves that would otherwise be impossible with the keyboard alone. You can retreat from attackers while firing behind you, destroy aliens below you as you fall or fire all around you.

Nearly everything in Abuse can be modified by the user. Abuse comes with a built in editor, and allows you to create your own levels which can use your own artwork, sounds and animations. Abuse also has a large chunk of code in LISP, which is completely user modifiable, allowing you to change many aspects of the game, much like QuakeC for Quake. This type of user modification was a step beyond any game in its time, and now can be found in many of the best games. The trend towards user customization is affecting all genres of computer games.

There are demos available for download for DOS, Macintosh and even for RS/6000 AIX. Almost any current computer should be able to run this aged game. The demo gives you the first few levels and a variety of weapons to feed your alien blasting hunger. It is disappointing the demo does not support multiplayer like the full version does, over modem, IPX or TCP/IP, because it would be interesting to see how that would work with the Abuse engine.

Crack dot Com has decided that Abuse is old enough that they have released the source code to the public domain. If you are a programmer who is wanting to tinker with a side scrolling game, perhaps you would be interested in looking through the Abuse source. There are many useful features in there for other game genres as well, including a LISP interpreter, multiple resolutions, multiple platform portability and network suport.

As an example with what can be done with that source code, Vicarious Visions has taken the core technology and ported it to Windows 95 for their side scrolling action game, Dark Angæl. Dark Angæl takes the Abuse engine in a new direction, adding large, prerendered characters and is based on a storyline that plays out through voice overs during the game. The levels are all interconnected and the game has a role playing game feel. Dark Angæl has a gothic feel with the battleground being haunted churches and graveyards. There is a 13 MB demo available for download.

Abuse is definately an older game now, but it still belongs in the Future of Gaming, simply because no game yet has surpassed it in its genre. Abuse was far ahead of its time. It used a unique and creative control system that no one had tried yet. It was nearly 100% user modifiable, a full year ahead of Quake. It took the side scrolling genre to lenths to where it had never been before. Abuse is no longer new technology, but it still has features that many big name games do not.


Rockets bring those flying machines down to earth

A crackle of lightning toasts the aliens
Further Info

Crack dot Com
The producers of Abuse

Vicarious Visions
The producers of Dark Angeal

Crack dot Com's next project

The Future of Gaming is created by Evan Jones