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Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee
#1
Developer: Oddworld Inhabitants
Release Date: 11-15-01
Score: 8


Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee is the third game in the Oddworld series but only the second part of the quintology. The first of the series premiered in 1997 on the Playstation with the rather unusual character Abe, a gangly reptile-like janitor trying to save his enslaved race from being made into a new taste sensation by the Glukkon overlords of their planet. The 2D Abe's Oddysee featured controls that let the player communicate commands with the press of a button and even take mind control of enemies, also offering a healthy dose of platform jumping. The game garnered critical acclaim and managed to gather a cult-like following. Abe's Exoddus released only a year later and was met with similar success.

Now you take control of Munch, the last of the Gabbit race thanks to the Glukkon's love of Gabbit caviar. It is Munch's objective to hunt down the last can of Gabbit caviar that will go on auction at an upcoming Glukkon event. Abe makes a return to help Munch and free more of his own race, the Muddokons.

Gameplay: 8
The first thing you'll notice is that this game is in 3D and keeps the same feel of the orginal. That is, you must make your way through guarded and treacherous grounds, ducking in and out of shadows to avoid being noticed, and solve puzzles while safely leading your people (or whatever) out of Glukkon lands and factories.

Abe returns with his ability to speak and communicate such commands as "Follow me," "Wait here," and "Attack" to his fellow Muddokons. He also has the ability to take mind control of enemies that allows him to walk about other foes, pull levers he otherwise wouldn't have access to, or make them explode.

Munch, like all Gabbits, is a small-bodied, big-headed creature with a single flipper to propel through the water or hop on land. Munch is not as graceful or as fast on land as he is in the water, but able enough. There are times when Munch has access to a wheelchair to move quickly when he needs to. In addition to simply moving about, Munch also has the ability to talk and will lend his help to gather and save the fuzzles (little round furry creatures with big teeth).

You'll often be alternating between the two characters in order to complete a level. You'll use Abe to handle most of the platform jumping, and use Munch in the water. Also know that the Muddokons will only listen to Abe and the fuzzles will only listen to Munch. The fruits you collect in the game serve the purposes of allowing you to resurrect fallen Muddokons allowing for trial and error as you figure out a level. (The fruits are also used to upgrade warriors and open chutes)

The move to 3D has been well met with precise analog control so you can slowly and quietly creep in the shadows or make a run for it. The button map is simple and the controls are responsive. You may, however, find yourself contending with Abe's quick jumping making you miss simple platforms such as boxes.

The puzzles range from exceedingly simple walkthroughs to others that may require a bit of thought and planning. Some of them are actually quite clever leaving you with a sense of satisfaction as you walk through to the next level, and some of them are unique and humorous.

There are, however, some drawbacks to the game. What you'll notice as you progress is a sense that you've played through a similar level before, and as you reach the end of the game you'll have done the same puzzle several times just with a different setting. It's also not always clear where you should go or what needs to be done in order to proceed. If you walk around enough, and through some trial and error, you'll eventually figure it out, but the process can be a bit daunting.

The game is fun, carrying on the same gameplay that made the originals unique and great. It's just too bad that the game's objectives can be unclear, or entirely obscure, and it feels a bit recycled at times. The jumping could have been tightened up as well.

Graphics: 8
The series has made the move to 3D in great fashion, sporting sprawling industrialized landscapes, detailed and imaginative enemies, and beautiful cg sequences. I know this review is over four years late, but I can tell you at the time that the lighting and water effects were superb. The game can look rather drab at times plus you're either in the hills or in a factory. A little variety wouldn't have hurt.

Sound: 9
The soundtrack is good even though, like the levels, can be repetitive.

Lasting Appeal: 8
There is plenty of game here, but you might become bored with it as the puzzle objectives begin to repeat themselves as well as the scenery.

Presentation: 10
The story is told through beautiful and often humorous cg shorts well placed throughout the game.

Final Score: 8
Munch is a great game of cleverness, humor, and imagination held back by several notable flaws. Oddworld fans will likely love it.
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#2
This is one of the first games I bought in the bundle that came with my original Xbox purchase at launch. I enjoyed it. I'd give it an 8.25.
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