I have fond memories of Another World when I first played it during the Sega Genesis days. It was called Out Of This World – to avoid confusion with the Another World soap opera – and it featured mind-blowing polygon graphics. For someone who was used to hand-drawn sprites and blocky pixels on my CRT TV, this was like staring into the future. It was as if Doc Brown came to my house (in this case, my mom who bought the game for me at the local mall) to deliver me the game from 2011. My 1993 brain could hardly process what I was seeing at the time.
With lifelike animations, a story that could easily have been in a movie or book, and a giant wolf creature that tries to rip you apart within the first five minutes, I was in for the ride of my life. I really felt that I was Lester – a scientist with a nice black car – and a freak accident transported me to a mysterious place where everything from slugs to holes with teeth was a threat to my existence. I really felt a connection with my alien buddy who comes to save me several times during the game even though I had no idea what he was saying. This was next generation stuff and I didn’t know what next generation meant at the time. But I was ready for it and video games were never going to look or play as good as this.
And two hours later, it was done. I played it the next day and I finished it in 30 minutes. The future has a short attention span apparently.
Last Week, Another World celebrated its 20th anniversary with an iPad port – hello, short attention span – that features updated graphics and touch controls. If you’ve been following the game since it was released in 1991, you’ll know this is actually similar to the 15th anniversary version that came out for the PC. The iPad version also includes three difficulty levels, and a neat swipe feature that changes the look of the game from the original blocky version to the updated smooth version. The graphics will be tough to look at either way since the realistic art style of games in the 90s rarely hold up today (I can’t wait until we see the same about games like Gears of War). Two control schemes – virtual d-pad and swipe controls – work well in the game once you get used to the timing of Lester’s jumps.
Now before you jump in and expect Another World to be another action adventure platformer, be advised that you will die a lot in this game. In going for a realistic feel where obstacles like guns and alien creatures can kill you instantly, Another World may have skewed too much to one end of the spectrum. Because the scene shifts from one static area to another (think Legend of Zelda), you will often run into situations where a guard is actually waiting for you and before you even have a chance to react, you’re already dead. And if you do manage to kill that guard on the first try, another guard will be there to kill you, sometimes even from the direction of the scene you just finished.
Game design theory nowadays has big giant glowing arrows (literally and figuratively) that tell you where to go and what to do at all times. Another World doesn’t tell you anything, so you don’t know that you should NOT kill that guard right away with the bombs because only he can open a hole in the floor for you to move on. It assumes that you have a brain and that you’ll eventually figure the puzzles out. In that regard, it’s surprisingly refreshing, but you’re not thinking that after your tenth try to press all the buttons in that tank. You will instead feel frustrated and annoyed that you think you’re doing the right thing but the game is being stubborn and wants to see you suffer first.
If you were born after 1991 and have zero affinity for the history of video games, Another World will seem like a rusted old relic that undoubtedly make you say, “I can’t this is what passed for a video game in 1991.” It is worth it to anybody who played the original all those years ago and wants that nostalgia trip because the rush, and your giant alien buddy, will be there waiting with open arms.
Another World is available now for iPad for $4.99 on the App Store. A review code was sent to us by the publisher.
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