Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee
21 February 2002, 10:32 Am. I was awake rather soon for a day off, slurping some coffee as suddenly the doorbell rings; there I stood in my pyjamas signing the receipt. In the meantime I couldn’t withhold myself from noticing the beautiful weather outside, hello there.
As my adrenaline pump gently overreacted, my hands were shaking, my cat was looking for extreme attention, I managed still to open the big box I just signed for, bummer, it was just a box, with yet another box in it, and nevertheless, it was the X-box .
Let’s cut the crap. Let’s talk gaming!
I got myself this game called Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee, and I must say I was happy to have gotten this title with the box than let’s say Fusion Frenzy (which I also found later on actually at the bottom of the box). For those familiar with the Oddworld series I can clearly say that this episode is a giant leap forward. The 3D environment features puzzles, platform-like gameplay mixed with some spicy sense of humour. Some people might think that Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee for Xbox is what Crash Bandicoot did for Playstation, I couldn’t agree more.
The two main characters in Munch’s Oddysee actually have names: Abe, wich you all know from the precedent episodes and then our newcomer Munch. Munch is to be described as a odd-looking (hmmm, Oddworld makes sense now) fish-alike animal, called Gabbits. But more about hose fellas further on.
What about the storyline you might ask yourself, well, it’s well worked-out Microsoft and Infogrames have put together some really nice game here.
The story all starts with some really nice and very humoristic intro, explaining both Abe’s and Munch’s faith. Munch is the last one left of his species and all this because of the gluttony of the Glukkons, who see the Gabbit eggs as a delicacy (compare it to caviar). Abe and Munch must stop the Glukkons from selling the last tin can of Gabbit eggs before it’s too late all this by beating their ways through “Black and White”-stylish worlds.
The game’s outstanding graphics make the game even more enjoyable than the precedent Oddworld series, while Abe’s Oddysee being a pure platform and 2D game, Munch’s Oddysee represents all that what’s 3D plus all the good things about platform games.
Indoor, outdoor, water, air, .. every detailed aspect of the environment, really comes to life, this is really a game which unleashes the power of the Xbox.
To get back upon the humoristic side of the game, the game’s voice settings are plainly humorous and very well casted. If a blind man happened to play this game he could form himself an image of the characters just by listening to their voices. Abe’s voice acting makes him a lazy, always-ready-to-fart alien, while on the other hand Munch’s voice acting makes him a not-to-bright, still evolving, down to earth, plain stupid alien, BUT that’s no problem since it suits them extraordinary well.(voice acting was mainly done by Oddworld CEO Lorne Lanning).
The ambient sounds are great, they keep you sharp and most of the time you can deduce a lot from these sounds about the things to come. The music is somewhat disappointing though, I have no idea what the music was like at this time, it’s forgettable.
Gameplay is great, I have no other well-defined word for it, hence the fact I dislike platform games, I have to say, Munch’s Oddysee makes an exception. Puzzles combined with platform games, two characters with their own unique abilities, a dozen of different characters to fight against, make this game a winner. Not only those three points make it great but also the abilities you have to combine in order to succeed your mission. The main goal of Abe seems to be: collecting Spooce, an over-sized green pea, cut in half, from which he can create a spell giving him the ability possessing his enemies, quite fun running your own enemies into the recycling facility .. SHRED EM! , unfortunately abe cannot swim, so that’s where Munch comes into play. Since Munch is more a fish-like alien, water suits him very well. Munch also has an implant in his head wish allows him to zap enemies and controlling machinery like grappling hooks, robots, etc … while abe being the ‘commander’ of his fellow Mudokons; Munch has control of Fuzzles (you can compare them to: Critters , those little furry i-look-harmless creatures from the same entitled movies). Each character has its flaws and it’s advantages, it takes you a while to find out who’s got what ability and who doesn’t.
The puzzles, wich make out a great deal of this game are classified in a range of very easy to rather difficult, making the right choice of the character you’ll play with is not an issue like in some other games, Abe and Munch play this game together (not at the start though, abe has to find Munch first). You can switch characters at any time, by this offering you several opportunities and switching between the characters abilities. Cooperative play is a must in some of the puzzle-levels. Levers, Jumpholes (more like giant plant-like cannons), Crane controls, robot controls … Mudokons themselves sometimes count as well in the success of a level, as you need them to cast spells to open gates for example. Munch controls these Fuzzles and I must say they are lovely, watch them eating opponents Critter-style was sometimes more fun than playing the game itself.
I don’t think I could get clearer about this puzzle platform game. I have never seen such game before, people who think that pandemonium, Crash Bandicoot (which is reported to come to Xbox btw) pushed their levels, and well I certainly would consider those people trying out this game. Definitely one of the better launch titles for the Xbox.