Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty Review

When I started playing Oddworld: New n Tasty, I had no idea what I was really doing. Under the guise of Abe, I knew I was supposed to be rescuing the custodian-slave Mudokons, but how? The in-game instructions displayed across illuminated billboards weren’t enough, and those tidbits passed by too quickly. I ended up running through the grim factory setting of RuptureFarms and completely failed to save any Mudokons from their tyranny and oppression, while dying at every juncture. After failing any and all rescue, I paused the game and went online to brush up on the game’s controls and get some hints for the subtler actions, like tossing grenades and actually saving the slave legion. I started over and did a much better job, all while escaping RuptureFarms at last.

That’s been my experience with the extensive high-definition remake of 1998’s Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssey. It’s a fantastic re-imagining that updates the sprite-heavy adventure from the original PlayStation to the modern era of polygons and high def-visuals. But all the presentation updates hide some frustrations that may alienate some players not ready for its more idiosyncratic qualities.

Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty

If you thought the puzzles in Jonathan Blow’s recent puzzler The Witness were hard, this remaster of an 18 year old game can equally crush your brain. The principle challenge here comes from rescuing all the Mudokons, nearly 300 of them to be exact (three times as many as the original’s 99). New ‘n’ Tasty looks like a hop and bop mascot platformer, but it clearly is not. New ‘n’ Tasty fancies itself a design concoction of Lemmings’ creature rescuing, a puzzle platformer, and Super Metroid’s interconnected environmental exploration. It was a unique design stew back in 1998, and it’s still striking even today when it comes to how well the disparate pieces meld together.

Coming to grips with Abe’s journey goes right down to the game’s controls as well. For the most part, your actions are intuitively communicated by their mapped buttons, but Abe himself moves with a stiff gate, his jumping awkward and stilted. That remains one of the only real relics of the 1998 game. Because of his stilted jumps, you’ll likely miss many a ledge you’re aiming for and die…a lot. If you’re used to newer platformers, but if you wish, there are alternate control schemes if you want to change the feel of your running and jumping to something more akin to modern analog expectations.

 Abe has no weapons to speak of, but he does have the ability to communicate with his fellow odd-man. Using a few button combinations known as GameSpeak, you can command Mudokons to follow or stay put. In a game where self-defense is limited, Abe also has the ability to take control of enemy Sligs, and he can self-implode them to get them out of your way, a useful maneuver and part of the game’s morbid sense of humor. For the odd moment where you can fight back traditionally, there’s the ability to toss bottle caps to create a diversion, throw rocks that set off grenades, or hurl the outright grenade and fully fight for your life (it can kill you if you’re not careful).

Oddworld: New 'N' Tasty Screenshots

Despite the game’s odd bits of difficulty, there are plenty of exemplary qualities to make up for the early hurdles in learning the game’s rules. Its esoteric personality is a stand-out, best exemplified in the odd pre-rendered cut scene that fleshes out Abe’s journey. Considering that Oddworld creator Lorne Lanning has a fascination with film making, this isn’t surprising. There’s also the matter of Oddworld’s protagonist Abe, with his earnest try-harder gumption. Abe may be an ugly-seeming character with a stitched mouth, but he makes up for it with an earnest charm, an unlikely hero if ever there was one.

Credit is due to developer Just Add Water for preserving Oddworld’s lived-in, industrial art direction on Wii U despite the console’s limitations. A quick comparison with the 1998 original Abe’s Odyssey, which used static sprite art and did not feature smooth scrolling environments demonstrates how far this remake goes in reinventing the world of Oddworld.

New ‘n’ Tasty was originally released on the PlayStation 4 in 2014, itself a console of greater graphical might than Nintendo’s Wii U. From a pure technical perspective, the visual artistry takes a hit from its PlayStation 4 origins. The new art herein is not as crisp, not as textured as was on previous platforms. At times the game’s ambitions strain the Wii U hardware, with occasionally choppy visuals hampering the movement in precision jumping.

The frame rate alone takes a dip into the teens in particularly large environments. The developers of the Wii U port have come out publicly stated that the Wii U hardware caused a delay on the port’s release. These odd performance quirks are a reflection of this delay.

Knowing all of Abe’s skill set in communicating with Mudokons and possessing Sligs matters because you’ll find out that you have these abilities from the beginning of the game. That’s why it’s a benefit to New ‘n’ Tasty that speed run-focused online leaderboards are included. That encourages replays long after you’ve rescued all the Mudokons and tests you to finish the fight faster every time.

Yet another subtle new addition in New ‘n’ Tasty left to discovery is the QuikSave option. With the tap of a button, you can create a save point with which to reload at any time. That goes a long way to making certain puzzles you’re straining to complete easier.

As I took on a ten-plus hour quest and to learn the ropes, Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty went from being a frustrating game to being a very good one. While not everything about this remake is friendly for newcomers, including its vague directions, players who take the time to learn the subtleties within will be rewarded with a rich and intricate platformer, with an irreplaceable charm, and layers of upgrades that make the game palatable to modern players. Abe’s original odyssey is now available to Nintendo fans, and it’s been well worth the wait.

Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty Review
Newcomers may face a steep learning curve (and has some hiccups on the road to Wii U), but Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty rewards smart playing and delivers an endearing hero in Abe and a vast, intricate world to traverse. A worthy remaster indeed.
The Good
  • Thoughtful Design
  • Strong Sense of Quirky Personality
The Bad
  • Wii U Performance Issues
  • Complex Systems Not Explained Well
8.0Overall Score
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About The Author

Editor-in-Chief (Former)

A man with a plan. My favorite video game franchise is Pokemon, but his favorite video game is Resident Evil 4. I can also tell you trivial cartoon factoids.