Codex Gamicus

Abuse is a run and gun video game developed by Crack dot Com and published by Origin Systems/Electronic Arts. It was released in 1996, and originally ran on DOS and Linux operating systems. An improved port of the game was released for Mac OS by Bungie Studios and for the Acorn Archimedes by R-Comp Interactive. In 2009 it was ported to AmigaOS 4.[1] It has also been ported to iOS as Abuse Classic. The game's source code, along with some of the Shareware content, has been in the public domain since the late 1990s.


The protagonist of the game, Nick Vrenna, has been unjustly incarcerated in a prison where the staff are performing unethical medical experiments upon the inmates. A prison riot occurs and an experiment goes horribly wrong. The people inside the prison - except for Nick, who seems to be immune - get infected with a substance called Abuse that transforms them into monsters. With the water supply in danger of being infected, Nick arms himself and fights through the horde to prevent this, and then escape from the prison complex.


Abuse resembles a side-scrolling platform game. The game is notable for its (at the time) unusual control scheme: The keyboard is used to move Nick, while the mouse is used for aiming the weapons. The basic gameplay consists of fighting various enemies (mostly the various forms of mutants, who prefer to attack in huge swarms) and solving some simple puzzles, usually involving switches.

Networked play, through IPX/SPX, is also supported. The game originally had support for TCP/IP play, but this was not present in the retail version.

Active zone[]

To improve the performance of Abuse's graphics engine, the code only allows objects within a certain radius of the visible game window to be active during play. This means that free-roaming enemies and always-on mechanical devices outside the radius cannot attack the player, nor will projectiles fired from weapons that ostensibly have an "infinite range" continue their journey much beyond the edge of the screen.

Distribution methods and later developments[]

The game was originally released for DOS and Linux as an incomplete shareware version. It was also included with many GNU/Linux distributions at the time.

Abuse was ported to Mac OS by Oliver Yu of Crack dot Com and published by Bungie Studios. The port was largely reworked for Mac OS, with the graphics partially redone to work better in a 640 x 480 resolution. The game has also been ported to iOS under the name Abuse Classic.

Approximately two years after the release of the game, Crack dot Com decided to release the game's source code, as well as the shareware release game data (excluding the sound effects), into the public domain.[2] There has been little development based on this source release, though it did allow up-to-date GNU/Linux builds and making the game work over TCP/IP. An SDL port of the game is now available, allowing the game to run in Microsoft Windows and also on X11 systems in displays with more than 256 colors. The Mac version has been updated to run on Mac OS X.


Abuse had a very different storyline coming out of production. The update for it replaced the original introduction with the current storyline. The original involved an invasion by an alien species.[3] The player was a special ops agent, sent into their 'hive' to covertly destroy the aliens by shutting down the cooling system. This story was alluded to in a hidden section towards the end of level 14, where a large area, full of maroon tiles, can be found.[4]


  1. Abuse ported to AmigaOS 4! (2009-07-09). Retrieved on 2009-07-11
  2. Purchasing Abuse. Retrieved on 2007-09-07
  3. Nathaniel Krell. Overview and Brief Analysis of Abuse's Plot (TXT). ABUSE @ Net-Mage.Com 1.4. Archived from the original on 2007-11-06 Retrieved on 2009-05-11 “The Ants were fearless, efficient killers. The Unified Underground's only opening was that the Ant defense systems were designed by engineers too arrogant to consider the threat of an individual. It was enough to justify the covert Abuse Missions.”
  4. Nathaniel Krell. The Hive in Level 14 (TXT). ABUSE @ Net-Mage.Com 1.4. Archived from the original on 2007-11-06

External links[]