Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee
The real showing for Munch's Oddysee at the E3 was behind closed doors. Oddworld Inhabitants has created a world with a fully functioning ecosystem in Munch. If you build a factory that uses a lot of wood, certain areas will suffer from deforestation and all the problems that result from it. The basic point is that every action has a realistic reaction within the virtual world. This game is going to be a real treat.
Download Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee
Making the leap from 2D to 3D is never easy, but Oddworld Inhabitants is doing it in style with an "idiot-friendly" camera system, new Gamespeak technology, innovative new gameplay mechanics introduced by mono-ped Munch, and some quality time with old pal Abe. Infogrames will ship Munch's Oddysee Q2, 2001.
Good Gravy! What the heck is going on?! Industrialist oppressors have all but ravaged the populace of Gabbits. Only Munch the Gabbit remains, and if he's gonna save his race from permanent extinction, he'll need to save the last crate of Gabbit eggs before they are turned into gabbier. In order to do this, Munch will need to team up with the legendary outlaw, Abe the Mudokon. Abe has twice thwarted the cannibalistic intentions of the Industrialists -- creatures so vile they exploit planets of their natural resources for the sole purpose of profit. Using these poor creatures as both slave labor AND canned goods is all part of the sick circle of life these creatures subscribe to.
Mudokons, Gabbits, Sligs, Vykkers, Glukkons, Fuzzles, Slogs, Meeps and countless others are all part of, a game that is, well, er, odd. How odd you may ask? Until you sit down and play this very offbeat game, you really have no clue.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee is the third installment of the Oddworld series. If you are like me, you will want to watch the 'story so far' section on the title menu. As this is my first venture into the very strange series, I felt compelled to watch and learn what has happened in the past. Well, let me tell you, this game is cleverly written and injected with a sicko/twisted humor. You see, these Industrialists (the bad guys) are hell-bent on turning a profit for whatever strange universe this game takes place in. They mercilessly torture their slave labor into working themselves to death and then turn them into the primary ingredient in a really strange series of commercial products. Well, it is here that we discover that Abe, the gentle floor-waxer in one of these 'facilities,'? overhears the nefarious plans of the Glukkons (Upper management of the Industrialists) to use the bones of the long since buried ancestors of Abe. So's to not let the other Mudokons (Abe's people) know what it is exactly they are digging up, they had their eyes sewn shut. It's enough to make a lowly floor-waxer take a stand and use his natural leadership and clever psychic power to out-think his oppressors and save the day.
So fast forward to this game and we find the lonely Gabbit, Munch, swimming in the sea. The Industrialists have snatched up all of his kin and used their organs and unhatched eggs for commercial gains. Munch, thinking he is all alone, finally hears what appears to be another Gabbit a little ways inland. Hopping on his one foot, Munch discovers too late that it was a trap and that he has been captured. Here, Munch is experimented on by his captors, the researchers (Vykkers), and outfitted with a metal plate that gives him sonar capabilities. Thinking that Munch could be used to find other Gabbits, the Vykkers unknowingly give him a telekinesis type power which Munch uses to escape his confines and start rescuing the other creatures in the lab that are being experimented on.
While this is happening, Abe has started his own search for Munch, as he knows that no creature should be oppressed by the evil Industrialists. Using his powers, Abe adventures toward the now resistance-fighter/Fuzzle liberator Munch in the hopes that they can team up and save the Gabbit lineage before it ends up on someone's cracker.
As either Abe or Munch (you play as both), you will be expected to adventure and out-think your foes from the third person perspective. As neither one of the characters possess any sort of natural defense, you will want to listen to the hint activators that litter the game's landscapes and use your natural leadership ability to have your followers fight your battles. Of course, locating and using the vending machines that power-up your characters is also essential. Vending machine power-ups include 'Expresso'? for added speed, 'Bounce' for added jumping ability, 'Zap' for a lightning attack (Munch only), and 'Invisible'? to become, well, you get the point. Now aside from these power-ups, both Abe and Munch will want to collect as many of the 'Spooceshrubs'? as they can, as they are essential for moving onto the next stage. There are also many other items to find and discover, but that is best left up to your exploration.
As I played the game, I found myself enjoying the wackiness for the most part, but a little side of me thought that this game was a little too mean for younger children who might wander into the room, the scene with the friendly creatures with their eyes sewn shut stands out the most. Also, I must say that several parts of this game were way too dark. And I mean too dark to the point I couldn't tell where I was going and couldn't tell if I was even moving anymore. Frankly, I was surprised.
The Xbox is certainly showing off its power side with its initial launch of titles and Oddworld is certainly one of them. Barring the darker levels I mentioned earlier, the cut-scenes and in-game graphics are absolutely fantastic. The character creations look incredibly crisp and the use of contrasting colors really stood out. I was mostly impressed with the bright colors that stemmed from magic and the lush landscapes that Munch and Abe adventure in. Obviously, there was no lag to be found anywhere, even when there were 30 plus creatures on screen. It truly is a visually stunning game, with its twisted looking characters.
Who would have thought voice acting on creatures would sound so good. As in the commercials you have undoubtedly seen on TV, Munch has a kind of slower speech that has a hollow sound to it, but it fits his character so well. Abe is the same way, when he asks this fellow Mudokons to chant together in order to open a gate, they all kind of complain in an 'aw shucks'? sort of way.
Here we have a better than standard instruction manual. Giving a breakdown of all the characters, items, power-ups and the entire back-story of the Oddworld universe. A really nice-looking manual that should be perused, if not for the sly humor interjected into it.
Why, if I seemed to have enjoyed this game so much did I give it an average score? Especially after I hyped up the graphics so much? Well, the answer is, because, this game is not going to appeal to the mass gaming public. Sure, it has garnered a good sized following, but this is a genre game if I've ever seen one. If you liked the other Oddworld titles then yes, you will want this one. If you like quirky adventure games then you will also want to pick this one up. But if you like your adventure games more serious and in the Fear Effect vein, then you probably won't like this one. An excellent weekend rental.
Whenever I think of Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee introduces us to a strange new hero, Munch. As we would expect in the often-disturbing Oddworld, Munch is a squat bug-eyed amphibian creature called a Gabbit and he is the last of his race. Together with Abe, he is called before the Almighty Raisin and recruited to put the Evenwurst Weenerz Company, which is filling the air with toxic poisons and polluting the sacred Mudokon lands of Break Wind Hill, out of commission., I immediately think of Abe. Well not anymore.
It's been almost two years since we experienced the strangeness ofon the XBOX and now we get to relive part of the experience on the GBA. The game incorporates some elements of what made the original game entertaining: interesting puzzles, ability to power up your character from various sports drinks available from vending machines and the unique game play offered by switching off between Abe and Munch and exploiting their individual strengths.
Abe functions well while moving on land. He can rally his Mudokon brothers, and even take possession of enemies for a limited time. Munch is more adapt at traveling by water and moves painfully slow across land, hopping upon his one flipper. He can communicate with Fuzzles and exploit their internal viciousness, which is shrouded by their cute exterior, by sending them out to attack enemies for him. While, he can't possess enemies, he is able to activate and control machinery by using an antenna that was surgically implanted into his head. The game consists of exploiting the strengths of each of Munch and Abe, and switching off between the two. Working together, you progress through the levels and free as many Mudokons and Fuzzles as you can, along the way.
The game is fun for a short time, but what really sold the XBOX version were the beautiful, dark evocative visuals, which just don't translate well to the small screen of the GBA. The game controls are not as responsive or precise as I would like. On several levels, I found myself controlling Abe and standing right in front of a Mudokon and being unable to get Abe to give him the order to help me out. Other times, I was controlling Munch, standing right next to a caged Fuzzle and it took me great pains to get the game to recognize that I wanted to zap the cage and free the Fuzzle.
The game definitely evoked many memories from the original XBOX title, but in the end, my memories of the original title, made the holes in the GBA version stand out even more. Another frustration of the game was that it doesn't allow you to save your progress on the cartridge; you are required to write down a password and enter it in, to return to your previous starting position. I'm not sure why some games are turning to this model, as oppose to actually saving your game, but it's frustrating that you have to carry pencil and paper with you when you are playing.
While there were moments in the game that I really enjoyed, the areas of frustration and touchy controls made the full game less than enjoyable and prevents me from giving it even a Fans Only rating.