I remember playing Abuse way back in 1996 for my old PC. It played like a dream with movement using the keyboard, and mouse for aiming. I never had any idea that the story revolved around a prison where interns get poisoned by Abuse turning them into aliens. The story is kind of not necessary when playing Abuse as it is the action that matters.
In Abuse you play as Nick Vrenna who despite being innocent becomes imprisoned. If that isn’t bad luck enough the prisoners are running riot against the inhuman experiments being performed on them. Of course this makes Nick pissed off, and as any righteous man he turns to resolving the problem with violence. It turns into one of the most hectic side scrolling platformers ever created.
The source code for Abuse has been shareware or public domain since the late 90ties, and there have been remakes by such powerhouses like Bungie of Halo fame. Now EXAKT Entertainment brings it to the iPhone. I know that I have seen a prior version of Abuse but I can’t find it in the App Store at the moment.
Abuse Classic takes the game to the small screen, and sadly it doesn’t work out too well. Most ports have been good from other platforms but Abuse Classic feels cramped on the small screen. There are four different control options available but all of them turn into involuntary actions. Using the cursor buttons often turn into spastic jumping, and the circular control cursors are too small for my fingers. The free shooting controls are really imprecise, and fires often when all I want to do is run and jump. Often I also manage to change weapons when I just want to move. The circular fire controls work really well though.
The graphics are quite dark, but thankfully EXAKT Entertainment has included brightness controls. I feel that the game graphics are quite dated since their first release back in 1996. Explosions and other effects are good though but backgrounds and enemies suffer from a lack of polish.
The sound found in Abuse Classic is really good, with sturdy weapon fire and explosions and unnerving alien screams. There is no music in the game, but if you have your own playing upon start-up you get both your own music, and the sound effects.
Abuse Classic comes with four different levels of difficulty but what kills me the most aren’t the aliens. What ramps up the difficulty is the imprecise controls. I know that EXAKT Entertainment has updated the controls several times but with only minor success. With 22 long challenging levels Abuse Classic can give you quite a hefty experience. That is if you manage to get the controls to work for you.
Abuse Classic is a port of a game that really needs a bigger screen to work. I really wanted this to be the same pleasantly challenging experience of my youth where swarms of aliens kicked my behind. I am having more trouble jumping onto a platform than killing aliens in Abuse Classic. My hopes are that future updates will make this easier to play as the core gameplay and pace of Abuse is truly great.