After 3 and a half years of teasing, Oddworld: New n’ Tasty has finally hit the App Store, with full Gamevice support. And it’s as good as you could possibly hope for.
The story of Abe’s Odyssey – originally criticized for being quite dark – has aged well. Abe is enslaved as a factory worker at a facility responsible for processing meat into a variety of food stuffs enjoyed by the aliens that make up this universe. One day, he stumbles upon a meeting between the higher-ups, where they reveal that because they’ve harvested almost every other creature into extinction, they’re planning on grinding up Abe’s species into a new meal – “New n’ Tasty”.
As dark as that premise sounds, things never devolve into self-seriousness. Abe’s aww-shucks demeanor and overall positivity keep the tone grounded as a dark comedy. In fact, while replaying this iOS port, I was most struck by how much Abe reminded me of Jar-Jar Binks – who came several years after Oddworld was released. Almost like if Jar-Jar was transported into Soylent Green, and then superimposed over a story about escaping from slavery. Yeah, it’s a weird tone. But it works.
Previous games in the Oddworld franchise have been ported to iOS before, and work great with the Gamevice. Unfortunately, while these games are perfectly competent, they also never quite captured the magic of what made the original Oddworld so special. They were in-universe spinoffs, but that is all.
New n’ Tasty is a ground-up remake of Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssey. Whereas the original was a great looking game for the original PlayStation, its pseudo-3D visuals and low resolution graphics don’t quite convey the sense of wonder they once did. New n’ Tasty fixes this. Visually, this is about as good as 2.5D platformers get.
Gameplay, on the other hand, is almost completely unchanged. Oddworld has always been a complex game, blending strategy and platforming, and taking full advantage of pretty much every button on your controller to command a deep set of actions. This gameplay, while complex and difficult, holds up perfectly well. If you’ve ever played Flashback, or any of the classic Prince of Persia games, Oddworld feels like an expanded version of that type of game, with the same difficulty you’d expect.
Oddworld’s challenge is mitigated somewhat by a few modern features. Quick saves are probably the biggest – you can quickly save your place, and reload from exactly where you left off, rather than relying on checkpoints. Far from feeling like the developers are just throwing a bone to casual gamers, these quick saves actually enhance the gameplay experience, removing frustration points that hurt the original release.
If you have fond memories about playing the original Oddworld, or if you want to see what all the fuss is about, and why so many people consider Oddworld such a cult classic, now is a great chance to pick it up and see for yourself.