Home > Clearing The Backlog > Clearing The Backlog – Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty!

Clearing The Backlog – Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty!

February 24, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

Clearing The Backlog is a semi-regular series where I attempt to clear my way through my ever-increasing backlog of games. Every time I finish a game, I review it and offer up my thoughts of what I thought of the whole experience. Today, Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty!

Let’s go back in time. It was 1998, and I’d just got my PlayStation for my birthday. After eagerly setting it all up and enjoying the hell out of Crash Bandicoot 2 and Tomb Raider, my next port of call was the special bundled demo disc. This excited me, because I’d never come across a concept like the demo disc before, but this exposed me to a bunch of games I probably would have never considered.

One game on that bundled disc was Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee, a game that captured my imagination immediately. It featured quirky characters, a vivid if brutal world to explore, and the unique ability to chat to your buddies and guide them around. It was amazing, and I would go on to get the full game and play it to death, ensuring that every secret area was found and all 99 of the buddies got home safe.

But while I loved the series, I missed out on everything to do with it after Abe’s Exoddus since I had no interest in the original Xbox. To hear it was returning after a long absence, and on a system I actually wanted, made me pretty happy. However, I initially wasn’t too excited about the return of the Oddworld franchise in the form of a remake. I wasn’t too keen on the idea of replaying Abe’s Oddysee in full all over again when I still own my old copy, but further investigation suggested that New ‘n’ Tasty really was that – new, and rather flavourful.

Some background for those who’ve never played either the original or this new remake: you play as Abe, part of a race of weird alien creatures called Mudokons, who are enslaved in a meat factory known as RuptureFarms by the Glukkons, who are basically what would happen if every morally bankrupt CEO evolved into their own species.

Abe is relatively happy being a slave, simply because he ignorantly doesn’t know any other life. That is, until he finds out that the profits are down for certain products, with animals coming in too thin or frail to make good meat. So Molluck the Glukkon comes up with a new product: Mudokon Pops, planning to use Abe and his buddies as meat in this new and tasty snack. So Abe runs, sparking an adventure where it turns out he’s destined to save his brethren and take down the factory for good.

Rather than what I originally expected the game to be – a shot-for-shot remake of the original with slightly prettier graphics, this is more in-depth. Using the original game’s structure, with a few new areas thrown in for good measure, New n Tasty removes the old static screens and pre-rendered backdrops, and replaces them with a dynamic scrolling setup that makes the game feel more fluid. It increases the number of Mudokons to save. It brings in a Quicksave function to reduce the frustration of the original. Generally the whole game is designed to be more user-friendly and more in line with modern gaming standards.

And it works. Mostly. The game retains its love of precise puzzles that sometimes the analog control scheme can mess up rather considerably, but overall the smoother pace makes for a much more enjoyable experience.

Escaping from rabid monsters feels much less rage-inducing this time as Abe seems to break into a run much more easily this time, and he seems to turn much faster when the game calls for it. The Elum sections, where Abe rides a friendly beast through the wilderness, are also hugely enjoyable and I can’t remember how these even worked in the original since they seem so perfectly designed for this version of the game. The puzzles are still as devious as ever, but not so devious that it feels unfair, keeping it true to the original.

The graphics are also beautiful. It still features the imaginative and expansive design the original had, only now it’s much smoother and more immersive. Abe and the various creatures he encounters feel less disjointed from his environment and the world seems like it finally lives up to Oddworld Inhabitants’ original ambitious aim to create a unique planet open to exploration.

The sound design remains as wonderful as ever. Much of the original soundtrack has returned, albeit in tweaked and remastered form that flows much more smoothly. The voice work has also been massively expanded, and some of the new lines of dialogue that play in gameplay legitimately made me chuckle at times. Enemy chatter and the grumblings of your enslaved brethren (including a cameo from David “Solid Snake” Hayter) make the factory feel even more alive than they did in 1997.

But while New n Tasty is an impressive piece of work, it does suffer from a number of unfortunate glitches that ruined the experience at times. There were times when pulling a lever would teleport Abe across the map, or dying in a certain place would put me in a place where I ended up trapped, or something that was meant to explode didn’t.

It would be nice to say that these were negligible glitches but they all affected the gameplay significantly, with many preventing progression or forcing me to sacrifice a buddy or two in order to save the rest of a group. It was unfortunate that such a wonderful piece of work suffered from this, because the rest of the game was wonderful.

Overall, Oddworld New ‘n’ Tasty is a remake done right. It retains all the best parts of the original game while smoothing out the rough parts without subtracting anything significant. Of course, it comes with its own wrinkles that desperately need ironing with patches, but I thoroughly enjoyed playing it, and its presence makes me excited for the possibility of a greater Oddworld revival in the future.

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  1. November 25, 2015 at 6:38 pm

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