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ODDWORLD: Abe's Oddysee
Developer Oddworld Inhabitants Options
Distributer GT 1-2 Plyr (alternating)
Game Type Platform Mem. Card
Review Date November'97  
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Setting the Scene
Picture yourself as the world's most unlikely hero. You get up every morning and trudge off to work at a food processing plant. Day in, day out…nothing much exciting ever happens, yet you are content. Then one day you just happen to be in the wrong place at the right time and overhear the big boss and his board of directors discussing a new food product line. It just so happens that this fresh new offering that the corporation is gearing up to deliver is made from your species!

Okay, now add this to the equation; you're an alien. Your race is known as the Mudokons. You have been a faithful employee of the RaptureFarms slaughterhouse for many years in addition to many other fellow Mudokons. You know there is something you must do to stop this barbaric carnage…but what? Besides your wits and special mental capabilities, you are basically without weapons. Without a doubt, it looks like it's a bad day to be born a Mudokon….
Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee is a 2-D platform game along the lines of such great games as Flashback and Prince of Persia.
The graphics in Oddworld are a thing of beauty. Each background screen is pre-rendered with meticulous care and forethought. The environment really comes to life and makes players feel as if they are truly adventuring in an alien world.

Being a platform style game, there are many objects that can be climbed and traversed. They are all extremely well depicted and illustrated so there is little chance of the gamer missing an opportunity…of course that does exclude the intentional hidden areas that are only discovered through trial and error or careful examination.

Creatures in this game are very original and just plain "odd" looking. They are also incredibly well animated. Joint movement and presentation of their body language is remarkably appropriate. Painstaking efforts must have been taken to assure the kind of quality animation that is being done here folks. The characters really take on a life of their own.
Sounds and Effects
Abe's Oddworld utilizes sounds in a very unique manner. You see, Abe has the capabilities to produce specific sounds through the use of "Gamespeak". Abe can say words like "hello", "follow me" and "wait". These commands are important as they are used to communicate your intentions to the other Mudokons. Asking a Mudokon to follow you but not telling it to wait at specific times, will lead to the untimely death of one of your friends. Other Gamespeak commands include the ability to whistle, laugh, get angry, chant and to fart. Yes, that's right, at certain times in the game you will need to have Abe pass a little wind to accomplish certain goals. It's also pretty damn funny and really grosses out the Sligs!

Other sounds as you might expect are equally well done and match the games environment wonderfully. Explosions are particularly well done and really manage to deliver a nice punch in the lower registers.

Music plays a very serene role in this game and stays in the background…where it should. Again, it matches the environment very well and delivers what it should in this game…mood.
First off I would like to state that I am not really crazy about the whole 2-D side scrolling platform game genre. The last time I really sat down and enjoyed one of these types of games was with the old Flashback adventure. The main reason for this dislike stems from the fact that these games frustrate the hell out of me. I hate having to continually go back to the start of a level because I missed a critical jump and wasted myself or failed to time a particular move to the micro second. So, as you can suspect I was not eager to open up Oddworld and give it go…Well, for the most part I am certainly glad that I did.

Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee begins with an incredibly rendered FMV telling the tale of Abe's world, the slaughterhouse he works for and the sick plans to make munchie food out of his species, the Mudokons. It appears the company that poor old Abe works for; RaptureFarms, is in the business of processing the planets various species into tasty morsels to be enjoyed by the worlds ruling members - the Glukkons. Abe just happens to overhear a Glukkon board meeting that indicates his race will be the next delectable edible to be released for mass consumption. As you might suspect, this enrages Abe and he takes it upon himself to alert and try to save all of the Mudokons working in and around RaptureFarms.

The game is actually played out in the past tense. You start the game with Abe being chained up in a cell awaiting interrogation by the evil Glukkon, Molluck. How he arrived in this situation is an unknown…you have to play to game to find out! It's also worth a note that Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee is the first part of a quintology (5) of games that the creators have planned in this series.

Control of Abe is dead on even for a 2-D spaz like me. Before long I was executing moves that would have put Michael Jordan to shame. Hey, I kinda like this 2-D platformer stuff! Abe has a wide variety of moves at his command. You can make him jump, walk, run and roll on a dime. He can also chant, crouch, throw, hop, sneak and hoist his little alien butt up in certain situations. Oh, he can also mount his trusty steed, a smelly weird looking creature called a Elum. I tell you, a stranger cast of characters you have never seen.

The overall object of this game is to try and rescue your fellow Mudokons from being turned into munchy bits and help them escape through a Bird Portal. If this sounds pretty straightforward, it is…if it sounds easy, it most certainly is not. You see Mudokons are basically a subservient bunch that is responsible for keeping RaptureFarms clean and tidy. They just go about their daily routines while being guarded by the gun toting Sligs.

Taking out a Slig or any other creature in Oddworld is no easy task. Abe is basically without weapons at the start of the game. The good news is that in addition to finding some very useful hand grenade dispensers and rocks littered throughout the game, Abe has a mental weapon called the Chant. This has several uses…it can be used to open up the bird portal to release your friends to freedom and it can also be used to control creatures like the Sligs. When this occurs, you can move the Slig around and use it to take out other creatures or to clear traps. When you are done with it, you can end the nasty Sligs life in any number of ways, suicide, meat saw or my personal favorite - self-implosion. Having Abe chant again after you already have control of the Slig performs this slick move. This will cause the Slig to explode into nice meaty chunks!

As you might suspect, there are plenty of obstacles to overcome in the game and quite a few relatively hard puzzles to solve. The game really challenges you and forces you to use extreme patience in many parts just to survive. Traps can be set by pulling levels and opening trap doors or by luring an unsuspecting creature into a mine or bomb. There are bombs that must be disarmed and reactivated at just the right time, land mines that need to be jumped over or cleared, moving bombs, meat saws and all other kinds of crazy contraptions that you must overcome in addition to outsmarting the various creatures in order to complete your mission.

The game isn't really a side scroller either. You actually exit one side of the screen and the next whole screen area comes into play. It's occasionally hard to throw stuff accurately like grenades into the next screen, because you really can't tell where it's going to hit…yet the game occasionally forces you to do just that. It is certainly a practiced art and can be pulled off, but it takes timing. Again, patience is a virtue in this game.

The two-player mode is really more of a swap mode. Player controls the character until you die and then control passes along to the second player. This type of play continues throughout the two-player mode. Nothing earth shattering, but a nice enough way to share the experience with a friend.

The thing I like most about this game though is that you are granted infinite lives. In addition, you can save the game at any point and when you do die (and you will die…many, many times) you normally start right where you left off, not all the way back at the beginning of the level or the game. This really helps to alleviate a great deal of the frustration that I often associate with these types of games. Don't' get me wrong, I still made a ton of stupid moves and mistakes in this game, but I knew that they were my mistakes and not the cause of poor control or level design. This kept me going back time and time again to try and get just a bit further and see what this game would throw at me next. Yes, I still got frustrated but the world and story line is so exquisitely done that I just couldn't help but get drawn into Abe's fantastically odd world.
Value for Money
There are a total of 99 Mudokons to save. There is a VERY good chance that you will not locate and free all 99 of them the first time around. Couple this with the fact that even if you do find them all, chances are you may end up inadvertently killing a few along the way, this game could take quite a bit of time to completely finish with all of the saved Mudokons in place. The game is long and challenging to be sure and should offer the gamer many hours of pleasurable, albeit sometimes frustrating playing time.
GRAPHICS: Brilliant Well, Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee has really made me change my mind about 2-D style platform games. I still don't love them, but if they could all be made as well as this one I now have even more game selections to occupy my time with. I guess I may as well run out and try Castlevania SOTN…

The game is by no means an easy one to get through. There are hidden levels, plenty of puzzles as well as other challenges and a good selection of weird looking, mean spirited creatures to outsmart. The game is just designed and presented so damn well, that it hooks you in and keeps you coming back for more. It's one of those rare games that require players to think before they react. I can't wait to see the next game in this series…its really that good!
SOUND: Very Good
VALUE: Very Good

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