Why does this game even exist?
Just look at that title screen, how ugly it is.
But that’s not even the point: Oddworld Adventures is, in fact, a good game… on the PS1, where it was known as Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee. Why did Nintendo agree to adapt that particular game to their clearly not advanced enough Game Boy? Because it did well with its inventive gameplay style, cool graphics and involving storyline.
All of which are barely present on the Game Boy, incidentally.
The plot sees an alien (or “Mudokon,” to be precise) discover that the factory he works for as a slave is planning to release a new food product made out of his peers’ bodies. Which is pretty dark and disturbing. Add to that the weirdly comical way in which he first finds out about this, through looking at posters advertising the company’s old and new products.
As delicious as those Scrab Cakes look to Abe, he’s not too big on becoming “something new ‘n’ tasty” after he overhears a board meeting where all is revealed to him.
By the way, I only understand this plot through the Playstation version of the game because the Game Boy port could honestly be about anything. The plot is reduced to a vague cloud of vague vaguery and before you can take a second to figure it out, the game just starts.
Here’s a couple of questions: who am I and what’s a “Bigface”?
Is that blurry grey thing a Bigface?
Ok that kinda makes sense but I’m unclear as to what “Paramites” and “Scrabs” actually are, not to mention what the Bigface has to do with any of this.
To translate: Scrabs and Paramites are things used for food you’ll probably encounter along the way and the Bigface saves your life for some reason.
As to why this all rhymes somehow, I’m not quite sure.
I think the Bigface is actually a Yoda-style character who guides you throughout the game but it really feels like the Game Boy version is starting you off on like the 3rd level or something. There’s big plot chunks missing, which is a shame since the game’s story is interesting and is meant to hook you in right away.
I mean, Oddworld isn’t Batman, a franchise as old as time with a premise so famous little kids and 80 year-olds alike probably know it. This deserved a little more clarity/effort.
I also mean “clarity” literally, look at this screenshot:
I think I’m looking at Abe but, really, it could be anything.
Whatever it is, it’s freakin’ terrifying.
Anyway, the game itself is a platformer in which good old Abe walks and jumps around a factory, interacting with other characters with the ultimate goal of liberating all the slaves who work there before they are turned into yoghurt. And when I say “interacting” I mean interacting! The cool thing about this game is the “Gamespeak” which enables you to chant to other characters and get them to pull levers for you and such through some form of telepathy.
It’s not just some heroic rescue mission, the factory workers all work together to escape which makes releasing each of them quite rewarding. The Game Boy port only really includes one level from the main game, however, which is a bit rubbish and means you don’t get the full experience as it was intended.
Abe can also throw items including rocks, meat, even grenades but the problem with him is that everything kills him: jumping too high, holding a grenade for too long, being attacked or simply being touched by something unfriendly. Basically, just make sure you get good at this Gamespeak thing quick and write down those passwords.
One of the four Gamespeak functions you’re left with after the Game Boy transfer, by the way, is farting.
So, to recap, we’ve got no colour, no story, no levels but we’ve got farting.
On the plus side, the animation on the characters is not bad for the portable console. Not bad for a PS1-to-Game Boy adaptation, anyway. You jump a little like you do in Prince Of Persia and other such games where you grab onto the edge of a ledge and pull yourself up.
It may sound like I’m trashing this game but, make no mistake, I do genuinely like the original version and this lesser port, while infuriatingly restricted, is still very much playable. You can still tell there’s something pretty cool in there somewhere.
The Playstation offers a fuller game but this one can be enjoyed on a more basic level, as a simple platformer which just happens to have an eccentric, experimental feel to it. Abe’s not just a telepathic messiah, a bizarre-looking demi-god who literally farts wisdom from his rear, he’s also a video game character and, as such, he is doomed to avoid randomly falling objects while jumping on inconvenient platforms:
And because, in video games, no floor is without gaps, Abe is also often required to activate something in order to proceed with his journey.
There are annoying tasks to perform, tasks that if someone asked you nicely to take care of and even paid you to do you’d still laugh in their face.
Of course, no matter what you do, you never get recognition. All that happens is everything that exists wants to kill you and doesn’t stop trying to do just that, even oversized irises from a giant’s eyeball!
Or… whatever that’s actually meant to be.
Point being: this may not be the Oddworld game you want to play but, as a game, it still just about works. It’s really not the type of thing that works on the original Game Boy, a system that’s at its best when it keeps things simple (see Tetris), so I do recommend checking it out on the PS1 where you can also find decent spin-offs and sequels.
Oddworld is definitely a franchise to look into.
Even if the games are the type that send you passive aggressive mixed messages right at the end.
Did I actually do a great job or are you just saying that so I don’t throw my Game Boy into a cat right now?
‘Cause I’ll do it!
That’s what I thought.