Abes Odyssey was one of the first games I ever played on the Play Station and I can confidently rank it as one of my top ten games ever. It was very innovative for its time, featuring Gamespeak, a list of basic commands for communicating with other characters and of course the ability to fart whenever and wherever the hell you pleased. It was the full package; great 2D graphics, superb art direction, cutting-edge CGI cut scenes and, of course, the hilarious and challenging gameplay that stood the test of time.
Ever since the conception of HD consoles, I pined for the Oddworld franchise to get the “Remastered” treatment. My prayers were finally answered when Just Add Water announced that they would be remaking selected Oddworld games for modern machines. Rejoice! Strangers Wrath came first and it was perfect. Present in all its original glory and looking better than ever with upgraded textures and effects. However, my sights were set ahead for “New ‘n’ Tasty”, the developers faithful remake of the golden original that started it all off. Not surprisingly, “New ‘n’ Tasty” was a huge critical success on consoles, and now we’ve managed to seize it in our grubby wee mitts on Sony’s PS Vita. For Oddworld newcomers; expect a solid platforming adventure the likes of which you’ve probably never experienced and for those who’ve played the original; prepare for a smack of nostalgia upside the beak.
Besides the obvious visual enhancements, “New n’ Tasty” plays identically to the original Abe’s Odyssey. If my memory is correct, all the secret areas can be found in the same place and each level is practically a shot-for-shot remake albeit with a panning camera instead of the screen transitions in the original. Nothing’s changed about the story either, you still play as the hapless Abe, a slave worker in Rupture Farms “the biggest meat processing plant on Oddworld”. The evil corporation is fronted by Molluck the Glukkon who, after learning of the dwindling species that comprise their tasty treats, proposes a new product line called “Mudoken Pops”. Only problem is, Abe is a Mudoken, so it’s time to make him scarce and save as many of his Mudoken buddies in the process.
Standing between Abe and freedom is a plethora of brilliantly designed enemies and dangerous creatures. The first of which are the foot soldiers of Rupture Farms, called Sligs. These gun-toting sadists patrol most of the games levels and will happily gun you down on sight. They can often be found gleefully torturing your enslaved brethren or with their pet Slogs, a faithful mouth on two legs that loves nothing more than munching up Mudokens. However, those aren’t the only nasties craving some Abe fillet, as Paramites and Scrabs are later introduced as formidable and sacred creatures that defend their home turf to ravenous effect. Your best bet is usually just running in the opposite direction. Sligs however, can be possessed with your chanting ability and used to kill other enemies before getting their brains scrambled by psychic powers! Pow!
Despite his possessive abilities, Abes physical frailty and general clumsiness don’t pair well together, and you’ll find that it’s really easy to get him killed. If it’s not from the enemies mentioned above, then it’s probably the result of a mistimed jump or stepping too close to those landmines. In the original game, the checkpoint saves were savagely few and far between, but in New n Tasty they are better situated. Quick saves are also included, a feature that wasn’t made available until the sequel, Abe’s Exodus. Also, on default difficulty, Abe can survive a few more gunshots and bigger falls than before, so it’s much easier than in 1997. It’s still challenging though, but just without the annoying parts.
Other than those minor gameplay tweaks, Abe still plays the way he did nineteen years ago. What has changed however, are the visuals. All the action still takes place on a two-dimensional playing field, but developers Just Add Water couldn’t help zooming the camera in now and again so we could admire the handy-work. All the models are now in 3D, and the high-resolution texture upgrade looks great, even on the Vitas small display. All the effects from gunshots to explosions have been completely overhauled to give the game a fresh and appealing new look for modern gamers. It’s a good overall port on Sony’s handheld, but I encountered a few too many technical issues that seemed to escalate the more I played. There was one occasion where after jumping a pitfall in Paramonia, Abe simply stood up and fell through the ground to his death. This happened four times before it inexplicably stopped on my fifth attempt. Also, a few times after dying, the game just wouldn’t allow me to respawn. The camera just sat transfixed on the area I died until I had to close the application and restart. That’s not all unfortunately, as noticeable audio gaps during frantic scenes and considerable frame rate dips also detracted from the otherwise great experience.
Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty is a great quirky little game that newcomers to the franchise will enjoy, and returning fans will respect for the visual upgrade and nostalgic effect. However, the Vita version is by no means the best way to play it, but if you don’t have access to the console versions or if you just fancy a bit of Oddworld on the go, then this is the ticket.
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