Unless you spent 1997 living under a rock, you’ll know that Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee was released on the original Playstation and immediately became a household name. Almost everyone even remotely interested in games has heard of or played the game and rightly so as it stands as one of the best that ever graced the console. Various sequels followed and although some of them were well received none became as iconic as the original classic game. Now we have that classic entirely remastered. Last year saw the release of Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty on Steam, Xbox One, PS4 and PS Vita, and the last one to the party as usual is the Wii U. Not wanting to degrade the game in any way, developer Just Add Water have worked closely with Nephalim Games Studio’s to get a port of the game onto Wii U that looked and played as well as possible.
For those uneducated in the ways of the Mudokon race: Abe is an official floor waxer for Rupture Farms who whilst on the job overhears his boss, Molluck the Glukkon discussing plans to turn Abe’s entire race into ‘Tasty Treats’ as a way of saving Rupture Farms’ current financial climate. The game is primarily a puzzle platformer where you control Abe in an attempt to rescue his fellow Mudokons.
You would be forgiven for loading up Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty and immediately thinking it is a simple ‘HD Remake’ however this is not the case. The game actually features zero assets from the original and was entirely built from scratch. Everything from the visuals to the voice and soundtrack have been reconstructed and implemented, for better or worse. The immediate benefits to this ‘from scratch’ method are best seen when playing and comparing with the original PSX version. So, as I’ve always been a fan of the game I found my old copy, dusted off my PSX and plugged it in. (Oh the nostalgia!) Here’s where I realised how important the changes for New ‘n’ Tasty were. In the original the game played through stationary screens, similar to the original Resident Evil. You controlled Abe from one side to the the other and when he hit the edge the screen would swap to the next. The New ‘N’ Tasty version however has a fully scrolling camera which gives a much smoother and modern experience which also allows the game to be much more cinematic, allowing for some truly beautiful scenes.
Another welcome change is the implementation of new areas. The game manages to mix the original game with a whole load of new areas in a way that balances the nostalgia whilst also giving us new experiences. As someone who played the original to death I was glad to have these sections blended together well enough for it to feel fresh without losing its original charm. The difficulty curve is also much more balanced and eases you into the more challenging sections without toning the difficulty down too much, the game still requires precise movements and timing and the puzzles are as intriguing as ever. Thanks to the new quicksave feature that allows you to press a button (for Wii U it was the – button) and immediately save your progress at that exact moment the puzzles are all considerably less repetitive. This feature opens the game up for newer and potentially younger players who aren’t used to the grueling difficulty of some of Abe: Oddysee’s puzzles.
The original game focused around 99 Mudokons that you could save, (or accidentally destroy) and your progress was shown on screens in the background in a way that always managed to make me feel guilty of the fact I killed nearly as many as I saved. New ‘N’ Tasty now features 299 to save and doing so is much simpler. Abe can now control multiple Mudokons at once (I forgot this wasn’t possible in the original) which makes it infinitely easier to manoeuvre them through puzzles to safety, often these puzzles appear in the form of optional bonus areas that are littered through the game. Saving all the Mudokons doesn’t have to be a first-time players main focus as a new chapter select screen now lets you pop in and out of the specific sections so you can save any that you missed which, for a completionist like me is a very welcome addition.Whilst almost all the new features are welcome and are well implemented there is one change that I feel is practically criminal although I see why it had to be done. In order to include new features such as talking to multiple Mudokons Abe’s character had to include new dialogue, and that involved… Changing Abe’s voice. (HOW COULD YOU?!) For me, Abe’s weedy little voice saying “Hello” and “Follow Me” were forever cemented in my head nearly twenty years ago, along with his laugh and fart noises, and so having a new (albeit similar) voice for me prevented the nostalgia from reaching a peak high.
In terms of Wii U specifics the game looks good at a 1280 x 720 resolution and runs at 30 frames per second. The controls are all fine and are able to control Abe as accurately as required. Off-screen gamepad gameplay is fully integrated and this is probably the best title I’ve played in that respect as it is a perfect match for switching just the gamepad on and playing through a few sections. I did however miss the higher resolution and framerate that the PS4 and XBOX One versions offer though that’s likely more due to the hardware limitations of the Wii U. Gamepad play aside If I could choose I would favour the other console versions of Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty as the low frame rate can actually hinder gameplay on the Wii U, especially in the new ‘Elum’ free running sections that are very fast paced. I often found myself missing jumps and ledges because my eyes were adjusting the variable frame rate. The other drawback I found with my version were the incredibly long loading times. Because I have not observed the loading times on any other console I can only speculate that this is again due to the hardware limitations of the Wii U but even so the loading screens were inexcusable. Often I would find myself considering whether or not to avoid going through one of the aforementioned bonus areas because I knew it would result in a hell of a long time staring at the loading screen.
Oddworld: New ‘N’ Tasty is a fantastic take on one of the most classic games in history. It manages to retain a truly classic feeling whilst being open to a new generation of gamers, with beautiful visuals, a more accessible difficulty, new areas and a simple way of diving in and out of the game to rescue all the Mudokons it’s easily worth your time. It’s just unfortunate that this is marred in the Wii U version in particular through a variable framerate and lower resolution.