Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty!
Released: July 23, 2014
I’m actually finding it very hard to believe that it’s almost been two years since this game came out. I wrote a Throwback Thursday post about the original Abe’s Oddysee (1997) last summer, which still remains my favourite game ever. Upon hearing that it would be getting a remake and not a remastering in 2014 I was ecstatic. It had been quite a while since I followed a game release so closely, but I was a woman obsessed. I really cannot explain in words how excited I was, but it’s because of this enthusiasm and love for the original game that I believe actually ruined my experience of it. Being too excited for anything in life will always make it seem not as great when it eventually comes around because nothing can live up to your expectations, so unfortunately after completing New ‘n’ Tasty, I was left somewhat disappointed.
I remember having to wait for my brother to get home from work on the day it was released as he’s the one out of us two who has a PlayStation Plus membership and he also didn’t want to miss out. Time had never moved as slowly as it did that day. Eventually, he finally came home and we almost immediately started playing it after it installed. I was amazed at how the game now looked. It was much more vibrant and dynamic, while also keeping in touch with its roots. The story of the game has remained untouched, which is great as it’s already perfect as it is. The levels are also largely unchanged, asides from perhaps one or two minor changes to account for the fact that the game is now a side-scroller rather than having a stream of static screens to flit between. Knowing that the levels are almost the exact same, players of the original game will remember where all of the hidden levels are. This was something that I greatly appreciated as it was nice to see that every aspect of the game had been taken into consideration. I also miss having to find hidden areas in games these days as many developers tend to leave them out or not make them worthwhile.
I have to say, seeing Abe was a real treat. The graphics of the original game, while amazing for the time, are particularly pixelated now and so it was the first time for a long time that I was actually able to properly ‘see’ Abe. He’s never looked better! The attention to detail is so incredible and I felt quite emotional when I saw his head pop up in the menu screen. That was until I heard him speak. It is going to be exceedingly difficult not to compare this game to the original, and I’ve already made reference to it several times in this post. It is because I am an avid fan of Abe’s Oddysee that has made me so critical of its remake. Abe’s voice, for some reason, just didn’t fit the profile. In the original game, he sounds nasal and rather hopeless whereas in New ‘n’ Tasty, Oddworld Inhabitants and Just Add Water seem to have opted for a comedic approach. The original game is funny, but in a much more morbid kind of way. New ‘n’ Tasty is much more overtly humorous, with stock sound effects when Abe slips or falls over. It all just felt a little contrived.
Now, I have already mentioned that the game looked vibrant and this is one of the best features about it. New ‘n’ Tasty is a beautiful looking game. The bright colours and the range of palettes is what I can only describe as delicious. I was so impressed with how incredible the game looked. Paramonia in particular was the area that I had the most enjoyable experience in. This may be because I am partial to cooler colours such as blues and greens (teal in particular), but either way it was a pleasure to play this section of the game. My favourite level has always been the initial escape from the Stockyards and I was happy to see that New ‘n’ Tasty had not changed much here. It was still as nerve wracking as the original, having to wait for the motion sensor lasers to move away from you so you can time your movements. Even the inclusion of the Mudokon to save from the Scrab as soon as you enter this area was great as it really showed that this game was not messing about. I think Scrabania is the part that most resembles the original game whereas Monsaic Lines feels the most different. It is not because this part of the game looked dissimilar to its original counterpart, it was the atmosphere within this section that was different. It’s going to sound very nitpicky, but I think it was because in the Monsaic Lines you have the most interaction with other Mudokons here. The voices really are a prevalent problem for me. They’re funny, and I appreciate that many fans actually lent their voices to the game, but again the humour felt too forced.
This brings me onto my biggest issue with this game – it was far too easy. One of the best and worst things about Abe’s Oddysee was the steep learning curve. If there were more checkpoints in the original game then it would have been perfect, but New ‘n’ Tasty had checkpoints at what felt like every twenty paces. With checkpoints this close to one another, it made me wonder why on Earth the ‘Quiksave’ function was even included. During my first playthrough of this game I abused that Quiksave button, which I really shouldn’t have done because I completed it within a few days. It was great when I was doing a particularly challenging puzzle and I could Quiksave in the middle of it to avoid a bomb or an enemy if I messed up, but took away from half of the fun as it was no longer a process of trial and error. Another pointless game mechanic was giving Abe an endless supply of bottle caps (vault dwellers and people of the Wasteland would kill for that) that could be thrown to distract enemies. If anything, the bottle caps are actually a hindrance. I don’t know if I’m using them wrong or if the AI just don’t respond to them because whenever I attempt to use a bottle cap it usually just results in Sligs being out of time and makes the level impossible. It wasn’t needed, and the whole point of Abe is that he’s the most pitiful character that it’s hard to believe that he’s the hero. Giving him bottle caps, as useless as they are, is essentially giving him something to fight back with. However, if the bottle caps are intentionally ineffectual then I would go as to say that including them was a stroke of genius. Arming your already forlorn protagonist with an impractical item? Brilliant.
I’ve written a lot about how the game disappointed me, but there were definitely moments where I really enjoyed it. I did find myself playing it again over the Christmas break and it wasn’t out of boredom, I genuinely wanted to play it. New ‘n’ Tasty, while it doesn’t really compare to the original game, is still extremely fun to play. What it seems like the developers did was take a classic game and re-imagine it for newer audiences today. If you come to this game as a new player, having never played or even heard of the original game or franchise, then you’d probably love it. Essentially, it’s a platform game with a quirky but lovable protagonist in a bizarre world where the story is that he’s escaping from his former employers to avoid being turned into food. It all sounds ridiculous and wacky but that’s what is at the heart of these games. A lot of time and effort went into making New ‘n’ Tasty, and you can see it when you play the game. It would have been easy for Oddworld Inhabitants and Just Add Water to simply make a remastered edition of Abe’s Oddysee, but they made a point of remaking it from the ground up and I have to applaud their efforts. While I don’t agree with every change that they made, a lot of it makes sense due to the nature of it changing from a 2D platform game to a 2.5D platformer. Instead of having just shadowy areas where Abe can hide from Sligs in some areas there is smoke for Abe to blend into, which makes it clear that Sligs cannot see you. The element of surprise when walking into the next static screen from the original was taken away in New ‘n’ Tasty as it became a side-scrolling game, but it worked in accordance with how the game now operates.
On the 14th of March 2016, Oddworld Inhabitants announced Oddworld: Soulstorm. Keeping in theme with naming the remakes after products manufactured within the games, Soulstorm will be a remake of the sequel Abe’s Exoddus and will be released in Autumn of 2017. It felt like the announcement of New ‘n’ Tasty all over again. The excitement is bubbling up within me, and Oddworld Inhabitants are doing a great job of keeping the fans on their toes. The more fans follow them on Twitter, the more they reveal of Abe. So far we have the hand and chest and I have to say, I’m intrigued to see his face. They aren’t showing all that much as of right now, but it is enough to lure you in and hold your interest. It definitely feels like the developers are trying something different this time around. The teasers for New ‘n’ Tasty was all very colourful and vibrant, much like the game itself. With Soulstrorm it seems like an entirely different ball game. If you look at their website, it feels a lot more darker and grimy in a way. I have to say, I’m liking it so far. I can’t help but feel excited whenever Oddworld Inhabitants announce things, it’s almost like a reflex at this point. Funnily enough, I had started writing this post about a week before the announcement. It’s like my brain was giving me clues all along! Hopefully Soulstorm will live up to the hype and Oddworld Inhabitants improve on aspects that could have been a little more refined in New ‘n’ Tasty.
I do have my complaints about New ‘n’ Tasty, but regardless of that I still enjoy it. Abe’s Oddysee is in my Steam library so it’s nice to go back and play the original, but after playing New ‘n’ Tasty I forgot how hard it actually is.
I’d recommend this game to people who like eccentric and unusual things. This isn’t your everyday game, it is really something special. If you’re someone new to the franchise then I’m certain you’ll love it but I do strongly believe that playing the original is a valuable use of your time.