Review: Oddworld Munch's Oddysee HD (PlayStation Vita)

Oddworld Munch's Oddysee HD: Official GBAtemp Review

PlayStation Vita 3,353 views 1 like 4 comments
Reviewed by Austin Trujillo, posted Jan 3, 2015
Jan 3, 2015
  • Release Date (NA): December 16, 2014
  • Release Date (EU): December 17, 2014
  • Publisher: Oddworld Inhabitants
  • Developer: Just Add Water
  • Genres: Adventure
  • ESRB Rating: Teen
  • PEGI Rating: Twelve years and older
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
Back in 2001, Oddworld Inhabitants released an Xbox exclusive title Named Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee, the next installment in the wonderfully dark and brooding Oddworld franchise. Now, 13 years later, that game has been ported to handheld form on the Playstation Vita! Let’s see if the game still holds up on the go shall we?
Austin Trujillo

 

Plot

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To start off, Oddworld Munch’s Oddysee is an environmentally focused game. Throughout the entirety of the game you will be playing as one of two characters, Abe and Munch, both of which have races on the brink of extinction.

Munch, a Gabbit, is a frog like creature that was once part of a large aquatic community, before overfishing and deadly environments left him the only Gabbit in existence.

In an effort to hunt for the rest of his race, he is captured by an alien race known as the Vykers that perform hideous experiments on him, including implanting a sonar device into his brain to force him to locate other types of wildlife to hunt.

However using the electrical properties of the device, and some help from another hunted race known as the Fuzzles, Munch zaps his way free and escapes while rescuing any caged Fuzzles he sees along the way.

Meanwhile, The Mudoken hero Abe is made aware of Munch’s story, and is commanded by the almighty raisin to find and rescue the Gabbit. In doing so, Abe and Munch will be able to team up, and rescue both the Mudoken slave force, and the last can of Gabbit eggs before they are auctioned off. To do so, they must help a lowly Glukkon named LuLu get rich, using Abe’s possession abilities to possess other rich Glukkons, and donate to the Lulu fund, than possess LuLu to win the auction of the Gabbit eggs for them.

 

Gameplay

A large amount of the gameplay is outlined in the plot. Oddworld is not a combat heavy game, and relies more on stealth and rescue, rather than all-out attack. Also imperative to gameplay is the commands function, which can be accessed using the right shoulder button that you use to command the various allies and slaves you rescues along the way.

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Abe is not versed in combat at all, and has little to no defenses, so he will rely on his allies to do the fighting for him, where needed. Otherwise, most encounters are better off avoided, which can be done using various vending machine power-ups throughout the game. Soda items such as Espresso, which gives you increased running speed, or Invisibility, which allows you to sneak around most deadly encounters without being seen.

Munch has the ability to use the vending machine Zap, which increases his zapping power for a limited time in order to defend himself in combat situations, or he may use Aqua-Bounce, to increase his jumping height in water to reach inaccessible areas.

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The most imperative function is the game is the fact that control between Abe and Munch can be changed at will, with a single button press changing you to either character. Teamwork is a must in this game, with Munch being able to reach areas in water that Abe cannot (he can’t swim after all!), and Abe being able to possess various enemies, and reach various land based areas.

Speaking of possession, another key feature in the game, Abe has the ability to create small possession orbs that can be guided towards an enemy, and then used to completely control the enemy. Using this ability allows you to activate switches being guarded by hostile Sligs, or allows you to use stronger equipped enemies to take down smaller ones.

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Possession will be required for progression of the game once the LuLu fund is established, as you will need to possess various managers throughout the game, and force them to donate the entirety of their money to the LuLu fund.

While Munch cannot possess enemies, he can use his small manipulation of electricity to control various machines throughout the game, such as the Snoozer, a combat machine used to knock out enemies with stun bullets, and the crane, which can be used to pick up explosives to drop on enemies, or pick up Abe and take him to unreachable areas

Possession can only be performed by picking up Spooce, a small green plant that grows almost anywhere. Spooce is also used to unlock various doors with spooce counts, or can be spent on ally upgrades. Spooce count can also be obtained by rescuing various slaves and egg crates throughout the game.

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Which brings us to the final most crucial point of the game, Rescuing and Quarma.

As stated earlier, the largest part of this game is rescuing slaves, (known as Scrubs), and the Fuzzles, as well as egg crates that contain Abe’s unborn kin.  Rescuing these creatures is vital to achieving good Quarma, which is represented by a little Halo by hitting the status button. The statues button will show your Health, represented by doves, your Spooce count, and your current Quarma status. Quarma has 3 different stages, represented by Red, Orange, and Gold. Orange and slightly jagged is the mid-point of Quarma, and can go either direction depending on if you save or inadvertently kill captured creatures. Gold Quarma will be represented by a straight halo, and will only turn completely straight by perfectly rescuing every creature in the game. If your Quarma begins turning Red and jagged, you may have allowed slaves to die, or killed them in some way. There are trophies tied to both achieving perfect Quarma, and Demonic Quarma, which means 2 play-throughs of both rescuing every slave, and killing every slave.

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Slaves and creatures are rescued by releasing them from cages, killing all security guarding them, or by carefully navigating them through mine fields, and taking them to a rescue portal. Once they have successfully been transported through the rescue portal, they will be safe and you will no longer have to worry about them for the rest of the level.

Good and Bad Quarma also effects the type of ending you get, so there is certain replay value if you would like to get all endings and trophies for the game.

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Not every ally in the game will be a slave though, with Mudoken Natives being key to combat situations later in the game. Mudoken natives will be colored differently from the Scrub slaves, and are represented as healthier green people.

These natives will also be crucial to gameplay using the command functions in the game, which you use to command their attacks, when you need them to work together to progress, and when they need to wait so you can prevent them from being taken into dangerous situations. While natives do not need to be rescued, their deaths will still negatively impact your Quarma, so playing tactically is vital for a good Quarma run.

These natives can also be upgraded using Spooce count, and can be taken from their normal flimsy state, to Tomahawks, which give them clubs and boosted attack power, to Mudarchers, which are crossbow ready ranged attackers.

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Added Vita Enhancements

The Playstation Vita port of the game has many added features and enhancements to the original game, both graphically and gameplay wise.

First of all, one of the biggest changes that I loved from the start, is that the jump button and action button are now 2 separate buttons. In the original game I always found myself jumping in stupid unnecessary situations when all I was trying to do was press a stupid button.

The Vita’s touch screen can also be used to interact with various buttons and switches in the game, which I found myself using more often than the action button, as the camera and positioning angles for certain switches would sometimes make me hit the wrong switch if I didn’t use the touchscreen.

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Another small but impactful improvement is some of the sound changes.

Here, is a video of what Munch’s old jump sound effect used to be. That sound plays just from simple movement as Munch, and even in the original game, it was insufferable. Fortunately for the Vita port, Munch’s updated sound is much softer, with a suction sound effect replacing the hideous “bounce” noise.

Graphically is where the most changes occurred, and I was quite shocked to see how different the Vita’s screens were compared to even the Steam port of the game. The Vita’s OLED screen makes everything look lush and vibrant, shadows and upgraded textures give everything a more immersive feel, and it all looks fantastic. My only complaint was that the cut scenes did not receive the same treatment, and still reflect the original game’s animations.

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Trials and Tribulations

With every port there can be both enjoyable things, and insufferable things, and unfortunately the insufferable weighed a little more in this review.

One of the big problems I ran into was input lag. The game has some very platform heavy elements, and it is very hard to progress through levels when your movements are constantly delayed, or your jumps have no measurable height. A lot of my frustration came from constantly bouncing off of walls, or plunging to my death, all due to a simple misplaced jump.

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Another irksome problem was frame rate issue when running into combat situations. The framerate would dip tremendously once multiple enemies were engaged, and even in some cases the game would outright crash. I actually had to limit my fights to at least 1on1 at most times just to make sure the game wouldn’t die on me.

And speaking of crashes, my oh my, was the game full of them. On the level FLUB FUELS SCRUB PENS (which for WHATEVER reason was renamed to FLUB FUELS Scrab PENS, spelled exactly the way I just spelled it, which doesn’t even make sense as there are no Scrabs in the level to begin with), I had a documented 17 crashes in game. At times I wasn’t even engaged in combat, the game just randomly gave out when attempting to simply progress through the level. I ended up having to save every few minutes just to hope I could actually complete the level.

Other minor issues included sound glitches and random NPC bugs that prevented me from either rescuing an ally, or finishing a level, and would force me to restart the level. There were even cases where ambient fog got stuck in the level and never left afterwards.

Also frustrating was trophy glitches. I had 2 trophies that should have unlocked by the end game, that I followed to procedure by the book, and the trophies STILL did not bother to unlock. Further research showed that multiple users had problems with trophies just refusing to unlock, which is a real shame for anyone looking to perfect the game.

 As of this reviews writing, no patches have released to fix these issues.

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Verdict
Pros
+ Very fun and entertaining story
+ Tactical puzzle solving and thinking
Cons
- Loose controls
- Glitchy levels and game breaking elements
- Level crashing
- Repetitive gameplay
6 Presentation
Oddworld presents itself as a game of stealth and rescue, and doesn't do a bad job of it.
6 Gameplay
Gameplay of Oddworld is still very floaty and isn't very precise. There can be frustrating platforming moments sprinkled in to what is supposed to be fun and tense stealth elements. and this only serves to hinder the overall experience.
5 Lasting Appeal
While the game does offer multiple endings, there's so much frustration involved in actually getting to the end, that it's hard to make you want to play the game over again. I was dead set on getting a Platinum trophy in the game, until glitched trophies and level crashing forced me to never want to touch the game again.
5.5
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Oddworld Munch's Oddysee was a nostalgia trip for me, having played the original on the Xbox Original back when I was a child. But no amount of nostalgia saved me from buggy levels and game crashes. While the core gameplay of Oddworld remained somewhat intact, there is still enjoyment to be had in the game, but only through patience and grasp of some messy controls.
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