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Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Microïds
Developer: Oddworld Inhabitants
Release Date: May 14, 2020

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Switch Review - 'Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee'

by Andreas Salmen on May 14, 2020 @ 7:00 a.m. PDT

Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee is the classic action adventure game with an ecological heart where you embark on a fantastic and humorous journey through Oddworld - a changing land of creatures and crazy monsters.

Buy Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee

Every entry in the Oddworld series is a delightfully odd, creative and fun mixture of various gameplay systems that work together in an interesting way — so much so that it's difficult to imagine what a true sequel to any of these games would look like today. After the recent release of Stranger's Wrath HD on the Nintendo Switch, Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee is a welcome addition for franchise fans and newcomers alike.

Abe, the protagonist of the two previous games, rose up against the corporate and exploitative suppressors of his home planet, and he's now a sought-after criminal. We also meet the protagonist of the new game, Munch the Gabbit, who's the last of his kind due to the evil corporation overfishing the species for its caviar. After Munch is captured and fitted with a sonar device, he manages to flee. He meets Abe along the way, and they continue their journey together. We can switch between Abe and Munch to solve puzzles and progress through the story as we try to help Munch save his race from extinction. Oddworld has an overwhelming array of species and characters, but the game does a good job of welcoming newcomers. If you're after the full story, you may be better off visiting the first two entries before delving into Munch's adventure.

First released in 2001, Munch's Oddysee is a 3D platformer that is mostly about bossing around minions. Both Abe and Munch are relatively harmless, but they can attack other NPCs. That's why they both have the ability to control groups of NPCs to do their basic bidding. In each stage, we have to get from point A to point B with both characters, although there are a few stages where we only have access to one of them. When we can access both of them, we can freely swap between the characters, since you'll need to use their individual strengths to progress. Along the way, you'll liberate Mudokons (members of Abe's race) and Fuzzles (a small furball species) and use them to defeat enemies, open doors, and activate machinery. You also collect Sprooce, which are small green blobs that grow in the ground and are a special currency to open doors or activate certain switches.

Let's go through Abe and Munch's abilities. Abe is very human-like and can run and jump around. His special ability is controlling other Mudokons; he can order them to attack enemies and activate contraptions and doors. Abe can also do some chants to grow Sprooce from the ground in case you're running low on the resource. On the flip side, Abe cannot swim, use complex machines, or capture Fuzzles. Munch can liberate and control Fuzzles but not Mudokons. He can swim, but he's on the slower side unless he's riding a special wheelchair. Because of his sonar device, Munch can control machines to move characters or objects.

These different abilities open up a few ways to solve puzzles and traverse levels. We often have to split up and reunite our characters. Munch may have to swim to reach a device, which he uses to clear the way for Abe, who has to clear the path with his devoted minions so that Munch can catch up. Other times, Abe has to search and collect a certain number of minions so they can chant and activate something, so Munch can move forward and save his Fuzzles.

The game also introduces special power-ups along the way. Vending machines supply special drinks, such as espresso, so our characters can run faster or a zap drink that enables Munch's sonar to shoot electrical bolts. Early on in the game, Abe needs to get an espresso drink to carry his minions through a field of mines and gunfire, while Munch controls a crane and drops explosives on enemies. It's great fun to solve a puzzle by utilizing the full skill set of two different characters, and that's when Munch's Oddysee is at its best.

Many levels are somewhat open and require several conditions to be met, and some need to be done in a specific order, while others don't. Generally, every stage feels like a new challenge to figure out. Even though Munch's Oddysee is almost 20 years old, its gameplay feels packed with things to do, and some levels can genuinely be solved with different approaches and styles. Looking back, what's even more impressive is that Munch's Oddysee features several different endings. Both Abe and Munch can control and rescue creatures, and that determines the ending that we get to see. We'll see different endings if we find and save all of the creatures, if we kill most of them, or if we were somewhere in between . For completionists, this may be enough to warrant multiple playthroughs of the 12-hour campaign.

Munch's Oddysee may sound like a flawless game, but it's certainly not. Remastered or not, the core experience is noticeably almost 20 years old. While the visual presentation is much cleaner and higher resolution than the original, there is no mistaking it for a newer experience. With that comes certain other frustrations that aren't deal-breakers but should be taken into account. The controls feel snappy and tight, but the platforming isn't great due to small platforms and characters sliding off the edges when they shouldn't. The camera isn't a great help, as it frequently gets stuck when you're traversing the world, making it difficult to see enemies or hazards in time to react. There's also an absence of guardrails that you may have gotten accustomed to in newer games. It's possible to mess up a level in Munch's Oddysee, so taking the wrong action can mess up a whole stage and its solution, forcing you to restart from the last save. Thankfully, the game allows you to manually save and quick-save at any point, eliminating the need to retrace your steps if you fail.

Munch's Oddysee is a port of the previous remaster, so it includes the same content with a few minor additions, such as HD Rumble support. It runs and looks as good as expected, but there are some occasional stutters that didn't get in the way too much. HD Rumble and added portability are positives, but beyond that, expect the same experience as other titles on the Switch.

I'll admit that I did not enjoy the title's older sound design and quality. If you're a fan, it could be considered nostalgic, but the menu sounds, environmental sound design, and voice acting can be irritating if you don't know what you're getting into. This is a personal preference rather than an outright fault, and what didn't work for me might work better for you.

For a game that's almost 20 years old, Munch's Oddysee on the Switch holds up incredibly well. It's a fun and creative platformer in an odd world that is still super fun to play and figure out from start to finish. Don't expect any technical leaps forward or special additions to this Switch version. If you already own Munch's Oddysee on another platform, there is not much reason to buy the Switch port, unless you must have a portable version of it at all times.

Score: 7.7/10

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