Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee HD (Vita) Review

It's time for SuperPhillip Central's first review of 2015. I don't have much knowledge on the Oddworld franchise, so entering Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee HD was my own kind of odyssey, a journey into the unknown. Here's my review of the PlayStation Vita version of Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee HD.

Some odd quirks hold back this return to Oddworld.

The Oddworld series was once a PlayStation exclusive-- at least for the first duo of games. However, when Microsoft entered the home console market, they had a dearth of exclusive content available to them initially. Thus, Microsoft did what would be a vintage move for them and paid for multiple exclusives to bolster the launch lineup of the Xbox. One of these such exclusives was Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee, a game that added even more variety to the system's library. Now it's more than a dozen years later and Munch's Oddysee returns, this time on the PlayStation Vita in high definition form. Is this "oddysee" one worth going on?

Munch's Oddysee was the third Oddworld game when it released back in 2001. It essentially took what made the 2D games so beloved (puzzle solving, maze exploration, among many other things) and translated them into a 3D format. However, upon doing this there were some issues that have sadly not been fixed with this HD version. Instead, the developer Just Add Water decided to keep the game true to the Xbox original, whether that's a good thing or not. Be certain though that this installment of Oddworld is less of a platforming adventure and more one of the puzzle variety.

First of all, controlling Abe isn't the easiest. The controls aren't as tight as I would have liked them to be, and it's quite apparent when moving him around. For instance, trying to run with great precision is nigh impossible due to the erratic turning of the character. It's hard to dash and collect a line of Spooce-shrubs because just moving the analog stick slightly makes Abe alter his direction. Jumping is also rather clunky, making it very annoying at times to move with any kind of precision and oftentimes resulting in having to make multiple attempts for what is essentially an easy jump.

The main problem with why the controls don't work or feel well is because every action is mapped to one button. Trying to pick up Abe's friends when all Abe wanted to do instead was keep jumping up and down like a total fool added to my frustration with the game.

My issue with controlling Munch is different. While Abe can move fast, Munch moves all too slow, making having to backtrack a pain in the rear end due to how long it takes. Heaven forbid you forget to collect something at the start of an area and have to slowly march your way all the way back!

Regardless, having two main protagonists is a cool concept, obviously done before, but it's put to good use in Munch's Oddysee. At the beginning of the game, Abe and Munch are at different locations and completely separate from one another, but eventually the two meet up and players can switch between the duo on the fly to solve puzzles both big and small.

As being someone whose first experience with Munch's Oddysee is on the Vita, the upgraded visuals to HD look rather nice, but many outdoor areas experience poor draw distance. Sligs aren't your only enemy in Munch's Oddysee HD-- the draw distance that makes many areas look foggy is.

It's also hard to get into the game due to the minimal use of music in levels. Instead of having something to listen to music-wise to make the slow, plodding pace of Munch's Oddysee more exciting, the dullness is accentuated by a lack of engaging music. What's heard instead is ambient noise and the occasional voice clip. Speaking of the voice work, the majority of voices are either garbled intentionally or so high pitched that it sounds more like obnoxious squawking than something that is actually charming.

With erratic movement controls for Abe and gameplay that runs more on the repetitive side than the engaging side, you might think that I didn't enjoy Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee HD at all. However, that's not entirely true. The puzzle and level design is top notch, the game's world contains plenty of charm, and I found myself continuously wanting to see what new gameplay concepts would be introduced into the fold next. While it's unfortunate that Just Add Water decided to go with a straight-up unaltered version of Munch's Oddysee instead of fixing issues that plagued the original and now this rebirth of the title, too, there's still fun to be had with Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee HD.

[SPC Says: 6.0/10]

Review copy provided by Oddworld Inhabitants 

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