Oddworld: New n' Tasty - the remake of the legendary PS1 title Abe's Oddysee is available now on the Xbox One store.
For those who don't know, Abe's Oddysee was a unique puzzle platformer from Oddworld Inc, and saw players guide the hapless mudokon Abe through a massive labyrinth of industrial plants, ancient temples and deadly wilderness. The original was crammed with secrets, and combat centred around evasion or luring enemies into environmental hazards.
Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee is one of my all-time favourite games, and it's with some excitement that I present my Q&A session with Bennie Terry, Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty Executive Producer for Xbox One.
JC: For the uninitiated, how would you describe Abe's Oddysee: New n' Tasty in the space of a tweet?
BT: Let's see… Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty takes the 1997 classic adventure Abe's Oddysee and builds a original game based on it with new technology and visuals.
JC: Abe's Oddysee represents a ton of nostalgia for many gamers, myself included. To those who haven't yet played New n' Tasty, but are coming in from the old game – to what extent has the game changed? Have the puzzles been completely re-worked, or will I be able to jump through the game utilizing my knowledge of the PS1 classic? (I recall this particularly tricky Paramite sequence with tiny platforms and bats…)
BT: You'll recognize lots of areas, but all of them have been rebuilt from scratch, with brand new visuals and gameplay.
So, as in your example, there's still the Paramonia section with the bats (and swinging boulders) but it's now much more striking to look at, you can now throw bottle caps to dispatch the bats and the boulders work with the game's new (and hilarious) rag-doll physics. We spent at least an hour at that precise location recording dozens of amazing death sequences as we threw Abe repeatedly into the spikes and chasms!
You'll be able to recall old memories of the original game to help you progress in some parts, but other sections are brand new, or otherwise tweaked. We worked hard on the opening few areas of the game to ensure new players weren't put off by the difficulty curve of the original, too, so there's a gentler introduction (unless you go for the opening level's secret areas, in which case: good luck!).
JC: Oddworld seems to have a pretty rich canvas of lore from which games can be drawn. Could you speak of some of the influences which might've complimented Oddworld's creation? (if any that is, I'm struggling to draw comparisons from Oddworld to anything else!)
BT: Lorne talks about classic genre titles like Flashback a lot, but he's also very fond of the likes of the classic adventure Myst, which projected an impression that the player could go anywhere they could see. We managed to get some of that ethos into New 'n' Tasty - in Paramonia in particular, you can see future (and past) areas fully rendered as you explore your current location, gently teasing what lays ahead and reminding you where you've been.
JC: Oddworld director Lorne Lanning has previously discussed the disparity between PS4 and Xbox One hardware, have you guys had an easier time achieving graphical parity between the PS4 and the Xbox One since the Xbox developer kit updates?
BT: The game runs largely the same on both PS4 and Xbox One, and we're using Unity so most of the assets are shared across the platforms. We did some optimization work on Xbox One, but it was - for the most part - more a case of ensuring Xbox-specific things worked, like Achievements and the ability to start playing the game after just 50% of the download has completed.
JC: For our readers who might be interested, what would you guys consider the primary differences between developing for Xbox One and PS4?
BT: As above, the game was developed in Unity, so the core development was identical. Most of the time taken in delivering the game for Xbox One was ensuring the game worked well with the controller and fitted in with expectations that Xbox One gamers carry, such as Achievements, as well as bringing across all of the post-PS4 version release improvements and tweaks, such as the really nice 'old school' controls, reworked audio and a few subtle adjustments to some of the trickier puzzles in the game.
JC: Much has been said about the ID@Xbox program's parity clause – we're aware that there may be NDA's in place preventing you from discussing the finer details of ID@Xbox certification, but how have you guys found working with ID@Xbox?
BT: We've only got good things to say about ID@Xbox on Xbox One. The team there has been great to work with and as the ID@Xbox guys say themselves: if you're a developer - just talk to them.
JC: New n' Tasty is riding high on Metacritic from both users and reviewers alike, have you guys considered giving Abe's Exoddus, Munch's Oddysee or Stranger's Wrath the make-over treatment?
BT: All our thoughts and efforts are currently on New 'n' Tasty. We'd love to take a look at other games in the series, but as Lorne has said it all depends on how New 'n' Tasty is received, and what our community is asking for.
Remember, our fans decided it was Oddysee they wanted to see remade, our fans even named the game New 'n' Tasty, so we're very much in their hands. But in the meantime, it's all about this Xbox One version this Friday, which we're really excited about.
JC: As a kid, I really wanted to try Scrab Cakes and Paramite Pies… what do they taste like?
BT: We've never tried them, sadly they were all out of stock before we got the chance.
Huge thanks Bennie Terry and the rest of the guys at Oddworld Inc. for saying hi to us!