Another World Hands-On
We sat down with a full version of Another World and revisit our youth with this classic port.
Another World might not sound familiar, but that's because it was the international title for one-man-developer Eric Chahi's groundbreaking Out of this World (renamed in the US so as not to be confused with the soap opera), released on the PC and on a number of home systems. Out of this World notably incorporated cutscenes, animated backgrounds, and context-sensitive events into its action adventure gameplay. It was also one of the first games to use rotoscoping, the predecessor to motion capture, and a graphic system based entirely on 2D polygons. These techniques might seem old hat, even outdated now, but in 1991, Out of this World was ahead of its time. Now it's making its way to mobile as Another World (presumably because the soap is finally off the air), and it seems the game has been well preserved over the years, down to its notorious difficulty and frequently occurring death animations. We got the opportunity to sit down with a full version of the game, and it made us feel like we were in middle school all over again.
In Another World, you control Lester Knight Chaykin, a physics professor who likes to dabble in particle accelerators and Ferraris, and who accidentally transports himself to an alien planet populated by humanoids. The game's motto might very well be "sink or swim," evidenced by the first moment you get into the game, where the cutscene flows seamlessly into gameplay and leaves you stranded underwater. The goal is to quickly reach the surface before alien arms entangle you. However, if you die here or elsewhere-- and you will, often--the game immediately starts you at the most recent checkpoint to try and try again. Your move set is limited but adaptable. You've got the basic abilities to run, jump, crouch, and attack, and a combination of a few of these moves will enable a running jump or a low kick, for example. But what's more interesting is how the moves change depending on the circumstances, and these changes aren't always clear, which may account for some of the game's difficulty. For instance, you might not have seen the alien guard drop the gun, in which case, you would have no reason to crouch by it, but you need to in order to pick it up and continue the game. With the laser gun in tow, your attack, which was formerly a kick, now fires the gun, and this is used in the standard laser attack, shield, and power-shot forms to do almost everything in the consequent levels.
The game gives you the option to use the original or enhanced graphics, which makes notable changes to the environment and adds a few more details for depth. Purists might be happy to see the game in its original form, but the enhanced version looks much better and doesn't do any injustices to the game in any way. Jean Francois-Freitas' excellent sound effects and music are translated well, rounding out the experience quite nicely. The one interesting twist is that the game plays in landscape mode in order to take full advantage of the aspect ratio, which then requires you to hold the handset sideways. We tried it on both the Nokia 6620 and the N-Gage, and it took some practice getting used to maneuvering the directional pad and action button while trying to keep our hands off the screen. In a game this dependent on controls, we hope to see the option of a smaller screen in portrait mode.
Regardless, it's exciting to see the evolution of gaming history all over again, and in a mobile version. We are pleased with how well the game has been translated and we're grateful for all the memories. We'll have more on the game when we review it later this summer.
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