New Zealand PlayStation: Munch’s Oddysee [2000]

Date: January 2000

Source: New Zealand PlayStation, Issue 9, p. 21

Munch’s Oddysee

Get ready for another strange extravaganza from the land of Odd

Oddworld Inhabitants, the pioneering developers behind Abe’s Oddysee and Abe’s Exoddus, have let slip more suggestive information on their PlayStation launch title, Munch’s Oddysee. Ignoring the normal boundaries that define game genre, Munch’s Oddysee will broach fields of platforming, adventure, and narrative storytelling, all hewn together with a thread of realistic character interaction driven by the simulated mental states of virtual creatures.

The game will definitely feature the return of our pal Abe, who teams up with a little critter called Munch. The last surviving member of an otherwise extinct species, Munch has been the subject of diabolical medical experiments. While Abe can talk to manipulate the living things around him, Munch has the ability control machines, thanks to a computer interface jack implanted in his head!

Munch’s Oddysee will take full advantage of the PlayStation 2’s hardware support of spectacular visual effects and supply infinitely crisper characters and textures in higher resolution than previous Oddworld games. There will be support for dozens of characters on screen at once, but the real technical feat that Oddworld Inhabitants is aiming for is not in superficial improvements to the shell, but to enriching the nutritious yolk inside.

The game world in Munch’s Oddysee will be, as much as the Emotion Engine will allow, a fully functioning virtual biosphere with all its teeming creatures living out their life cycles and pursuing their goals in a dynamic environment where all creatures can interact with each other and have the consequences wrought out in real time.

The unreality of the contrived animals is suspended by the meticulous animations that they perform in the course of living their virtual lives. It is an artificial life program writ large, the most ambitious work of its kind to date.

As well as expanding the scope of the game, Munch’s Oddysee will also flesh out the background of Oddworld itself, revealing more details of a planet allegedly the stuff of fantasy, but that’s really an overt parody of the evils of our own civilisation, and the greed, cruelty and extinction it brings about. The game will exploit the DVD format supported by the PlayStation 2, and while playing straight through will take 50 or 60 hours, the replay value presented by a vast interactive game world promises to be nothing short of enormous.


JUST A FEW WORDS

A few words from MR Lorne Lanning, President of Oddworld Inhabitnats and all-around video game visionary:

“Munch’s Oddysee will be more focused on world simulation and the behaviors of characters and eco-systems to achieve much more “living” impressions. We are simulating entire life cycles for all the characters in the world, all the communities, and even the landscape. We are truly going for a “worl” simulation approach rather than gauntlet types of puzzles that you saw in our previous games. We are also spending a ton of effort in advanced behavioral, simulation, and social chemistry models. GameSpeak(tm) will also now allow you to move around and manipulate a large number of characters in order to have them do your bidding and re-shape your landscape. GameSpeak has become more highly evolved and smarter, but simpler to understand and make use of. We want you to be able to truly feel as though you are on large landscapes that feel alive and are critical to sustaining the rest of the life that depends on them.

Munch will be a single player game. However, we will also be releasing Oddworld: The Hand of Odd(tm), within the year after Munch’s Oddysee is finished. With Hand of Odd, you will get the world chemistry that is available in Munch’s Oddysee, but you will be able to play it networked in cooperative or competitive ways. This is something that we are very excited about because it’s the first time Oddworld will be networked, and we believe it will be a completely unique experience.”