Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Patricia's Jewels: Oddworld: Abe's Odyssee (April Fools Swap with James Bevan)

The following post was from yesterday in honor of the Manic Expression April Fools' Day Swap. Each person who participated had to switch to another person's style of reviewing. I got James Bevan, who reviews a video game series called Jim's Gems. I hope you enjoy me not talking about Nickelodeon stuff.

Inspired by Derek Alexander (Happy Video Game Nerd) and James Bevan (Manic Expression)

Welcome to Patricia's Jewels, a video game series where I cover my favorite games. Whether it's triple "A", indie hits, cult classics, and underrated, obscure games that I feel deserve more recognition. Hopefully, my review will let you check out the game for yourself. Today's game we're going to cover is an underrated cinematic platformer back in 1997. Back in 1994, a new indie video game company by the name of Oddworld Inhabitants was founded by Lorne Lanning and Sherry McKenna. They wanted to step right outside the box of typical platformers that were hugely popular at the time such as Super Mario 64, Spyro the Dragon, and Crash Bandicoot by introducing a rich, complex universe taking place in the planet called Oddworld. They wanted to make the kind of games that they wanted to make, not the kind of games that were gaining popularity. So begins the Oddworld Quintology, a series of 5 games that would take place in Oddworld. The first game from this Quintology was Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee which debuted on the PlayStation on September 19, 1997.

The game stars our protagonist, Abe, a creature known as a Mudokin, who works as a slave in a meat-packing industry called RuptureFarms. While working overtime, he hears a conversation from his supervisor named Molluck the Glukkon saying that their stocks are going down and are at risk of going bankrupt. He comes up with the idea of using all the Mudokin slaves and use them as food called Mudokin Pops to bring up profits while saving money on getting other creatures for food. Abe, frightened at what he heard, is determined to save all the Mudokins before it's too late. 

The game plays similar to Prince of Persia and Out of this World, in which it's a simple 2D platformer with cinematic backgrounds, tough puzzles, and atmospheric music. The game features the amount of Mudokins that you have to rescue, the amount of Mudokins you already rescued, and the amount of Mudokins remaining. The character of Abe is a very simple minded, clumsy, and humble Mudokin. Remaining as a slave the majority of his life, he learned to take orders, but seeing his people in danger gets him the courage to rescue them and help them escape RuptureFarms. He meets up with different Mudokins that are normal, blind, confused, and suicidal. He uses an ability called GameSpeak to control the Mudokins and lead them to a portal that leads them out of RuptureFarms. Along the way, you learn different abilities such as telekinetic powers that you use to control the Glukkons, clever puzzles to get rid of them, and learn stealth to avoid them in tight spots. Abe travels to different ares in the game and learns new abilities and new things about his people. 

The story has a great mixture of humor and dark moments as you begin to learn about the Mudokins from Abe's visions from Big Face, a Mudokin Shaman, and the plans of Molluck the Glukkon containing greed and selfishness, and Abe's path to freeing his people. The scenary was really ahead of its time on the PlayStation. The scenary was both bright, dark, colorful, gritty, and atmospheric from the dark, depressing RuptureFarms to the lush, green forests of Paranormia, and the deserts of Scrabania. The music fits very well with the game by being ombious or catchy.

However, the game has its share of flaws. The controls are a bit dated by today's standards with the Triangle button to jump and the X button to pull off the GameSpeak, and the Square button to trigger Abe's abilities. Also, you have to save 1 Mudokin at a time and once you lose a Mudokin, they can't come back. They're dead and stay dead and you need a certain amount of them to get the good ending. Sometimes it isn't easy since it's a huge pain to control the Mudokins to lead them to the portal, especially the blind ones. But the biggest flaw in the entire game is that there are rarely any checkpoints in the game. There are a few, but once you die, you start in a level where you lose your progress unless you create a new save state on your PlayStation memory card every time you want to save. That can be a huge problem at times. However, those problems would be fixed in the later games.

Oddworld: Abe's Odyssee was received very well by gamers and critics alike, but complained of the "ugly" characters, confusing gameplay, and lack of save states. However, it was hugely praise for its innovation for cinematic platformers with its graphics, story, and gameplay. The later games to come out would improve the gameplay, continue the story, and introduce us to new characters and abilities. However, cinematic platformers lost interest to many gamers with the increasing popularity of 3D platformers and first-person shooters and the Oddworld Quintology had been hugely forgotten. In fact, the 5th game was never released due to the poor sales of games from the last two gamesMunch's Oddysee and Stranger's Wrath. However, more people are getting introduced to it due to the games being released on OnLive, the PlayStation Network, and XBOX Live Arcade. Coming this fall will be a HD reboot of Abe's Odyssee called Abe's Odysee New & Tasty will be released in the PlayStation 3, XBOX 360, and PlayStation Vita in honor of the game's 15th anniversary of its release. 

Overall, while there are a few flaws, Abe's Oddysee is a fantastic game that has a great story, beautiful graphics, atmospheric settings, and tough puzzles to solve. There's a lot of variety in this game and for people who love platformers, you deserve to check it out! 

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