Another World: Collector's Edition Review - The Next Level

Game Profile

System:
PC
Release date:
April 14, 2006
Publisher:
Eric Chahi
Developer:
Eric Chahi
Players:
1
Genre:
Platformer
ESRB:
NA

Another World: Collector's Edition

Out of This World gets a "Director's Cut" after 15 years.

Review by Travis Fahs (Email)
April 19th 2006

When Another World (or Out of This World, as it's known here in the US) was released in 1991, it was completely unlike anything that had come before it, revolutionary in style, gameplay, and technology. Another World, along with Prince of Persia defined the subgenre that would include classics such as Flashback, Blackthorne and Oddworld. Ported far and wide to all the major consoles and computers, it remains one of the true classics of the 16-bit era, and now the original creator, Eric Chahi, has regained the rights and graced us with a sort of "director's cut" to not only offer a version compatible with modern computers, but hopefully the definitive incarnation of his creation as well.

Composed entirely of 2D polygons (how many games have done that?), the 16-color graphics were eerie and atmospheric, and allowed for a rich game world not bound to a rigid tile-based grid like other games of the day. Now, in its new, modern form, we find another advantage to this technology. The new Windows port allows for its graphics to be displayed at resolutions of up to 1200x800. The graphics were not quite designed to be seen this way, and certain things look underdeveloped at such a detailed resolution, but they still look crisp, smooth, and sharp.

Even better, Chahi has included the options to use ultra high-res, true-color versions of the enhanced backgrounds he designed for the recent cell-phone port. These new backgrounds are very beautiful, while keeping very faithful to the look and feel of the original (something the 3DO port has been criticized for neglecting to do). Again, I think that at high resolutions some of the imperfections, flaws, and scratchy details are more apparent, but others may feel different. There are options for new and old graphics sets as well as for the original 320x200 resolution and the new high-res modes. I found myself most enjoying the enhanced graphics set and the low resolution, but whatever your preference the options are there.

Before Flashback was marketed as "the CD-ROM game on a cartridge," Another World made use of the same techniques to deliver fully animated cinematic cutscenes that seemed impossible at the time. They're all quite intact here, and the intro and ending benefit from some enhanced backgrounds, but the characters themselves are unchanged (Lester's eyes remain as trapezoidal as ever). This is a little disappointing, but they certainly look no worse at the very least.

It seems that Chahi has attempted to merge the best elements of the many ports for this edition. He has mentioned always preferring the original Amiga version's audio to the subsequent versions. To those who cut their teeth on Interplay's console ports this will sound very bare; there is no music outside of the intro and ending. The additional music from the console versions was added by Interplay and not done done by the original composer. Fans of the original found it obtrusive and inappropriate, but those already used to it might be surprised to find it missing here.

The refinements to the level design from later versions are quite intact here, however. The extra levels first added in the DOS port are present, and the extra enemies and hazards introduced in the console versions are carried over as well. Another World always had a reputation as being a bit frustrating. It used puzzles in the guise of action sequences that required players to experiment, memorize, and die often to find the solutions to its many perils. Fortunately, Chahi has added more checkpoints (about twice as many, in fact) to keep players from having to travel as far back when dying. This manages to make the game less frustrating without watering down its brilliant gameplay. A save feature that allows players to skip to any checkpoint they've reached also helps to not only eliminate the hassle of writing down passwords, but increase the replay value by letting players skip to a favorite scene.

Bottom line: This is the best version of a timeless classic that everyone ought to play. While it's something less than a true remake, and the resolution enhancements might not be all they're cracked up to be, anyone looking for the definitive version need look no further. It's the best looking, best sounding, best playing iteration of a legendary and influential title. The meager asking price of seven euros (about $8) is more than fair, too. It's a must-buy.

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