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Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee (Xbox) artwork

Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee (Xbox) review

"Munch’s Oddysee was one of the launch titles for the Xbox and was the third game in the Oddworld Quintology. Unlike the previous Oddworld antics, it was in a fully 3D environment and also allowed a tag feature between two characters. Although these features were added the qualities that made Abe’s Oddysee and Exoddus great were ground down to their basics. The stealth puzzles were rare and the Gamespeak was minimized from six characters to two. In their place were more action, explosions and ..."

Munch’s Oddysee was one of the launch titles for the Xbox and was the third game in the Oddworld Quintology. Unlike the previous Oddworld antics, it was in a fully 3D environment and also allowed a tag feature between two characters. Although these features were added the qualities that made Abe’s Oddysee and Exoddus great were ground down to their basics. The stealth puzzles were rare and the Gamespeak was minimized from six characters to two. In their place were more action, explosions and freaky aliens without a conscious.

Munch is the last of the Gabbits, amphibious creatures that were hunted for their eggs by industrial goons. Gabbiar considered a huge delicacy by the Glukkons, the richest monsters on Oddworld. A lonely Munch hears a cry of a Gabbit and with joy in his heart, he leaves the ocean to find where the cry is coming from.

Unfortunately, the cry is a sonar reading from a bear trap, which Munch finds connected to his leg. The deranged creatures, the Vykkers, set the trap, these big headed, spindly armed monsters capture wild animals and use them as guinea pigs for the latest pharmaceutical products. Munch is subjected to torturous experimentation by the Vykkers, who plan to use him to collect critters from other traps by using his newly implanted sonar.

When Munch and Abe unite to bring down Vykkers Labs they have two main missions. Firstly, they plan to visit various factories to rob the Glukkon leaders blind. This is part of the Almighty Raisin’s plan to make the most incompetent Glukkon on Oddworld the ultimate Glockstar. Then, Abe and Munch can use him to buy the last can of Gabbiar eggs from an auction held in Vykkers labs.

The 3-D environments allow you to switch between Abe and Munch whenever you want. Abe can run faster and jump higher than Munch and he can also possess other living creatures and use them as his puppet. Munch, however is lot slower on foot and has to rely on his wheelchair to get him to places faster. He can swim at fast speeds and can use his sonar to hijack many types of machinery, including the Snoozer robot, which knocks enemies out and the crane, which can be handy later on. It also can be used to open Fuzzle cages so they can follow you. Munch can also use his sonar to zap enemies but only if he powers it up with a special energy drink.

One brand new feature in Munch’s Oddysee is Spooce, the Oddworld currency. It looks like algae and in the wild the stuff is everywhere. Spooce unlocks certain doors so in order to unlock them you have to insert the number of Spooce required by chanting near the lock. Abe requires a maximum of ten Spooce to possess and Abe and Munch can hold their own supply of Spooce. Abe can also re-grow Spooce via chanting so they can use it again. It seems like a good idea but having to constantly regrow more and more Spooce to reach your specific target gets very boring; especially when you have to do it loads of times.

A disappointing element in the game is the Gamespeak, Oddworld’s intricate communication system which Abe and Munch use on Mudokons or Fuzzles, small carnivorous creatures with razor sharp teeth who are part of the Vykkers labs test subjects. They have bonded themselves to Munch, as they helped each other escape the horror of Vykkers labs. Abe and Munch have a similar set of commands for each of their own friends. They can gather one’s attention or a whole crowd of critters, they can also get them to attack enemies and Abe can use his Mudokons to pull levers and operate certain tasks. Although the majority other characters have Gamespeak, Sligs, Glukkons and others, they do nothing and are rarely used in the game. The previous game required loads of Gamespeak from various characters and it seems like a waste to just have two characters fluent in Gamespeak and the other ones blurting out random insults.

There are two main types of levels in the game, industrial and native. In the industrial levels, you’ll have to rescue Mudokon scrubs with Abe or Fuzzles with Munch via Gamespeak. To rescue you have to bring the groups you’ll have to bring your rescued Fuzzles or Mudokons to a bird portal and chant near it. You’ll also have to donate to the Lulu fund at the end of most of the industry levels by possessing the Glukkon in charge of the facility and throwing all of his cash into the Lulu fund vending machine.

The native counterparts offer a different mission, instead of rescuing Mudokons you can use them to fight Sligs or use them on Storm Circles to revive the polluted land. Storm Circles are huge structures in the native world that are operated by groups of Mudokons. There are smaller circles around the storm circle that indicate how many Mudokons you need to get the thing working and when you do, you can flood areas, raise the ground and open doors. The only thing that made Storm Circles annoying was gathering the amount of Mudokons required to get the thing to work. With Spooce, you can use natural artefacts to turn native Mudokons into warriors, one type uses a huge club to smash Slig’s heads in and the other uses laser powered crossbows to attack at long range.

One thing that Abe’s Exoddus worked on was the different class of characters. The Sligs, trigger-happy soldiers used by the Glukkons as guards were given various upgrades, such as the flying and crawling types. Here we have the normal Sligs in three forms: Slacker (no weapons), Whacker (armed with baton) and popper, the usual gunners. The flying Sligs are gone, it would have been great to control them in the 3D environment but instead we have the sheer power of the Big Bro Sligs. These steroid pumped giants use robotic legs like tree trunks and Blitz-packer guns to pump their enemies full of lead (or is it cans of beer?). Big Bro Sligs seem like a dream come true when you possess them but they really suck, three normal Sligs can take one down with ease by using melee attacks at very close range.

Sligs aren’t the other dangers you’ll encounter on your adventure. When Abe and Munch are in the Vykkers labs, they face the stitched lipped Interns, who are armed with needle popping Snuzis and the Vykkers themselves. All of the bad guys have armoured upgrades later on, which makes them take more damage than normal. Glukkons are given various types but rely on a financial level rather than strength. We have Meep-herding puds, geeky windmill proprietors, Chumps and the wanna-be, not quite at the top yet. Lastly we have the big chiefs of the Glukkon industry, the big cheese, the head of a huge company and the Glockstar, the guy who looks like a pimp. These are the real Glukkon bosses and you’ll spend the main portion of the game turning the pud, Lulu into one of these millionaire tyrants.

Sometimes, you need a little pick-me- up to enhance life so Oddworld introduced Vendo machines, these ones don’t cause explosive farts that you can possess but can enhance your character’s controls. With Expresso, you can run really fast and with Bounce, the height of your jump is doubled. Munch has two that are exclusive to him, Aquabounce allows him to jump really high when in water and Zap allows you to use your Sonar as weapon, it’s a shame that it takes heaps of shots to kill anything. Possessed enemies can use weapon vending machines that will give an unarmed Slig a gun to use, there are few different machines but they all hand out unlimited weapons.

One of the main changes in Munch’s Oddysee was the difficulty of the game. The two other games were very hard to complete, Abe’s Oddysee was pretty hard if you wanted to complete the game with a happy ending, Exoddus had harder levels but had so many Mudokon captives that it was easy to rescue heaps. Munch’s Oddysee was the easiest though, the levels were quite short and the statistics on how many creatures need rescuing could be accessed easily. If Abe or Munch dies then the surviving player could revive him near an egg holder, which are in every level. The number of rescues is still at three hundred but it is a lot easier to rescue them. Egg crates take up a high percentage of the rescues and all you have to do is pick them up and drop them in the loading chutes. The first time I finished it, I got the happy quarma and the second time I got 100%, it might just be the only game in the world where it’s actually harder to get the bad ending instead of the happy one.

The FMV sequences were easily the greatest on the Xbox at the time it was released. Watching the opening animation movie was almost mind-blowing; the animation was so smooth on Munch as he surfed through the water. The dark Oddworld style is simply revamped up on the Xbox with every character given its dark and dreary personality. All of the levels are given intricate detail from the background to the foreground; the detail on the forests and water in the native levels is excellent. The animation on all of the characters is reasonably detailed, they blink, the lip sync is perfect and when they burp or fart, you’ll see some green gas emit from their release point.

The new Gamespeak gives you a whole load of voice samples from all of the characters. Abe and Munch have various words for the same command, instead of just saying “Hello” in the greeting, they will also say things like “How ya doing?” as well. Each of the commands has about four alterative orders, which make followers do the same thing. The enemies are loaded with insults and they also have about four phrases to say, Sligs have funny insults, “Hey, butt-wipe” or “Yo’ momma” and Glukkons tend to babble about how great they are. Vykkers steal the show though, they have hilarious high-pitched voices and all they do is blurt out insults. “Hey, butt-munch!” is funny as hell and the other insults are just as good.

Munch’s Oddysee is something that you can pick up really cheap nowadays and it is fun to play through. It’s fun to rescue workers, possess monsters and randomly fart in Munch’s face but the gameplay is a step down from the original. It’s way a lot easier than the previous encounters, which makes it a refreshing platforming experience and the quality humour gives it a bit of a boost. If you enjoyed the other Oddworld games then you’ll enjoy this only don’t expect the challenging experience that the other games delivered.

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Community review by goldenvortex (February 28, 2005)

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