|Platforms||Windows, SNES, Genesis, Sega CD, Mac, DOS, 3DO, Amiga, GBA|
|Genre||Brutal Cinematic Platformer|
|MtAMinutes to Action||6|
|Score||6 Gameplay: 4
Fun Factor: 6
|Buy from Amazon|
Another World (Out of this World) is a cinematic platformer released on just about every system back in 1991. Now the phrase, "cinematic platformer" gives me shivers because of its sheer potential of awfulness. When I hear those words I think of terrible gameplay and ugly, "realistic" looking graphics. The games are typically rotoscoped to give them a unique graphical style, which usually doesn't bother me, it's more the style of gameplay that makes me experience nasty flashes of nostalgia. If you've ever played the original Prince of Persia games, you'll know what I'm talking about.
Another World is known as Out of this World in the United States. Much like Indigo Prophecy/Fahrenheit, the game is renamed for some stupid reason that leaves people confused and wondering whether the stone is the sorcerer's or the philosopher's. Either way, the game supposedly influenced Fumito Ueda, who went on to create Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. So at least this game was good for something, but let's check out the first hour of Out of this World to see if it can properly defend itself and (in my opinion) the thankfully lacking genre known as the cinematic platformer.
I'll be playing the 15th Anniversary Edition for the PC released in 2006. The game features higher resolution graphics and more detailed backgrounds.
(minutes are in bold)
00 - I select New Game and the first hour of Another World begins. We're looking at a lonely building under the night sky. Suddenly a car screeches to a halt in front of it. A man gets out of the vehicle and enters the building. An elevator door opens and our orange haired driver steps out.
01 - He types in a code on a keypad and gets scanned. All his vitals match and the computer types out, "Good evening professor." It even knows what car I drove here from the key I'm holding.
02 - The professor is sitting at a workstation now and enters CDOS. He types in the command, "Run Project 23."
03 - He's running a particle acceleration experiment.
04 - Once that is complete he starts a practical trial, pops a soda and watches the fireworks. Literally! A storm outside shot a bolt of lightning into the cyclotron, opening up a portal on the professor! Him and his entire desk is gone!
06 - Woah, the professor landed in a deep pool of water and it was almost too late before I realized I had to swim him up and out of the water! At the last moment it looked like tentacles were reaching out to me. As I crawl out of the pool, a strange creature runs away.
07 - Well, for better or worse I now have total control. I walk right, kicking slugs along the way. One falls on me and stings me! I fall dead! Wow, that was fast!
08 - I crawl out of the pool again... a moment later I'm dead from another slug!
09 - Well what the frak? (Battlestar Galactica is back by the way!) The giant monster that was watching me climb out of the pool just pounced on me and killed me! How was I supposed to fend that guy off?
10 - Stupid slugs.
11 - Well, I figured out how to run so this time I run from the monster, but when I enter that screen again I immediately get killed. This is going to take a lot of trial and error I believe. Man, I wish I could just run over these slugs.
12 - Okay, the monster follows me from screen to screen, looks like I'll have to run and jump over the slugs and get back to the pool? No idea.
13 - Ugh, I got away and the monster tripped, so I became lazy and stopped. Bad idea, I was dead a moment later.
15 - WOW! Epic! I ran all the way to the left from the monster, jumped off a cliff, swung from a vine to the other side of the brute, ran all the way back to the right, and then the beast got blown away by some guys cloaked in black! Then they shot at me! Now I'm hanging in a tiny cage with some ugly looking dude.
16 - I actually have control so I start swinging the cage back and forth using my momentum. Ha, owned! We land the cage on a guard's head and take off running.
18 - Whoops, I got shot. Now I have to do the cage sequence again. This time I notice that the guard dropped his gun and I grab it. Awesome!
19 - Ugh, I got shot in the back. No idea where that guard came from. Cage sequence again.
21 - You can make a shield with your gun. And that's exactly what an enemy just did. This is tough!
23 - I finally make it past the shooting sequence and we hop on a lift and head down... Oh, by the way, the guy who I was in the cage with is chilling out with me. Luckily I can't shoot him!
25 - Dang, I get shot. This time I head up on the lift, nope. Dead end. We head all the way to the bottom of the lift and I shoot a guard in the back. Nice. There's some flashy thing on the wall so I shoot it, I think it shorted something out.
27 - Man, this game is brutal with replaying sequences!
28 - Odd, I just fell down a hole and now I'm rolling around. Geez, I keep dying brutal deaths in here, nasty! Falling too far isn't a big deal for most video game heroes! I think I keep getting killed by water rushing down on me. This is really weird.
31 - Well, I finally made it out and into some force field room. As I enter the force field my hair stands on end and I get zapped! I didn't die though so it must have triggered something...
32 - As I head outside and kill a guard, my buddy runs by in the foreground and is being chased by three guards! Cool! Hahaha! I just got impaled by a spike when I failed to jump a ledge!
34 - I've been impaled two more times... I am able to jump down to a ledge further down but I have no where to go. Hmm...
37 - This is getting really annoying. I wish I knew what that force field area did. The game keeps returning me right there after I die.
40 - Oh, I was supposed to shoot the wall with my powered up gun. Oh. Wow, the backgrounds in this cave are beautiful!
41 - As I head further right I can hear water running. Geez, it's like a waterfall in here! I try to walk on the platform, and well, that doesn't work.
42 - I head up some stairs out of the cave and am on the other side of that massive jump. All right! Well, another waterfall room. Doesn't look like I'm supposed to be going this way. Deeper into the cave I guess.
43 - Oh man... I'm in the room underneath the pool of water that the waterfall rushes into. I am so tempted to blow away the small piece of rock holding it all up. Okay, I'm going to do it. Haha, I died immediately. But it looks like I might have been able to run away?
45 - Well, you can run away, but I'm not doing a very good job at it. Honestly I don't even know why I would want to do this in the first place?
46 - Okay, that was funny. I made it over a jump and watched the water rush into the pit. Then I just stood there, all of a sudden the whole cave below me must have filled up because the water was rushing up right at me a moment later! Awesome!
50 - I'm starting to wonder if that water sequence was just a red herring as I found another part of the cave where it seems you might be able to proceed differently. But there are a bunch of rocks falling on my head and I keep getting squashed!
51 - I somehow time the rocks amazingly well only to get squished immediately on the next screen.
53 - Phew, I've made it past the falling rocks, but now there are many eating tentacle monsters trying to get me!
54 - Man, these guys are really bastards. You have to time all these lame jumps perfectly well and since this is a "cinematic platformer" you also have to deal with all the crappiness that goes with that!
57 - If I make it past the tentacles I just fall in the pits anyway. Grr...
58 - I'm going to have nightmares of these tentacle monsters eating me.
59 - Finally, I have made it to a room with no tentacles and no pits! Too bad it's empty and there's no where to go.
60 - Yeah, that's a great place to stop. In an empty room.
Now for some scores out of 10.
Minutes to Action: 6
I guess the thing with cinematic platformers is that you either love them, hate them, or have never even imagined such an atrocity of a sub-genre. Because of the way the animations are recorded and rotoscoped, you can't take tiny little baby steps because the game has specific step lengths already programmed in. This is most frustrating when running and jumping, because you really have to plan your jumps far in advance and if you started your running animation at the wrong point, you will probably fail at your jump.
As you can tell, I'm not really fond of these types of games, and I was honestly starting to get into Another World. That is, until I realized the game was obsessed with trial and error and making me replay sequences over and over again. There are plenty of checkpoints, but they're generally placed directly before time-sucking scenes so you waste a lot of time just doing the same thing over and over again. I bet you could beat this game in less than an hour, probably far less than that, but first time gamers will be frustrated. I do think that if you're good at this game you'll have fun and blaze through it in a short afternoon.
Fun Factor: 6
Though I rip on Another World's gameplay pretty harshly, there are some incredibly awesome sequences that when you pull them off, you'll pump your fist in the air and come away with a big smile on your face. Of course, these all come after many attempts and lots of time trying to figure out exactly what to do. It is satisfying moving on from a level knowing you've figured out the game's behind-the-scenes puzzles, but it's not all fun and laughter.
Graphics and Sound: 7
The 15th Anniversary Edition of Another World brings a remarkable graphical improvement over the game's original release. In my opinion, the game looks so much better and is even pretty passable as a 2D platformer. The backgrounds have evolved the most, and benefit greatly from the higher resolutions, but the characters are also a bit smoother. The animations haven't changed as far as I can tell though, but that's more of a gameplay issue, which I'll get to next. Another World is light on sound effects but the music I heard in its first hour was excellent.
Another World's story was intentionally left vague, so I kind of have to wrap my own details around what I'm playing. Personally, if I got teleported to an alien world where I was getting shot at, chased around by giant man-eating beasts, and getting devoured by tentacle beings, I would be pretty freaked out. The guy in this game (Lester, can't actually figure that out from the game as far as I can tell) is holding his composure pretty well. I think the most interesting aspect about the game is not Lester being transported to "another world," but his immediate friendship with his fellow cage-mate. I wish the game would have paired us up together a little longer in its first hour, but it redeemed itself about half way through when I saw him running in the foreground. I was reminded that we're both unwelcome in this land and if we're going to get out, it's going to be together.
In my opinion, Another World's first hour suffers most from the genre it was developed for. Cinematic platformers probably sound great on paper as you get realistic looking animations, but the gameplay usually suffers from being unnatural and just not fluid. I've personally never played one that I really enjoyed, but I think I might actually continue on with Another World. The story is intriguing enough and I think I can put up with the frustrating gameplay to finish it, I'm pretty sure the game isn't too long. I guess that's a good feeling to have when coming out of playing the first hour of a video game. Undoubtedly the most important. To have the will to finish it.
The game's creator, Eric Chahi, has a great site detailing Another World's development from start to finish. I highly recommend it.