Despite its title, there’s nothing new about Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty anymore. This 2020 Switch release is a port of the 2014 ground-up remake of the 1997 classic, Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee. Even though it’s now half a decade old, this Nintendo Switch flavour is certainly tasty. It may not have had the same level of polish as our latest 1997 remake, Final Fantasy VII, but the loving attention to detail in this game continues to shine through.
I remember playing Abe’s Oddysee as a kid. My little brother picked up a cheap copy at a petrol station during one of our family trips to France and, along with my cheap French copy of Soul Reaver and my big brother’s copy of Tomb Raider — all of which in French — provided hours of entertainment. Certainly the best 50 Francs we each ever spent.
Now, a couple of decades later, I’ve grown up and the original game has certainly aged in that time as well. I’m pleased to say that this facelift has helped the game’s legacy age well. Built from the ground up, in much the same way as Crash Bandicoot and Spyro were more recently, New ‘n’ Tasty is a faithful recreation of the original, modernised for current graphics and control systems.
For those of you who missed the game the first few times around, Abe’s Oddysee told the story of the mudokon Abe, a slave working at RuptureFarms meat processing factory — a dark, foreboding citadel taking in the planet’s various creatures and pumping out death and smog. Our model “employee”, as he defines himself, accidently overhears a board meeting detailing how his owners are going to lift profits after their latest product line has gone extinct: Mudokon Pops. Rather than profits being made of the backs of his brethren, they will be made from them.
Abe escapes and sets about on a mission to rescue as many of his kin as Mukokonly possible. What ensues is a platformy romp through more death pits and mine fields than you would think practically reasonable. Since Abe is, shall we say, less than gifted offensively, rescuing each and every one of your species from the grips of RuptureFarms becomes a challenging trawl through the world’s secret areas, using your brains to not only solve puzzles but mind-control your gun-toting captors and psychically open portals to help your friends escape.
Dark though this all seems — and the subject matter is about as dark as it gets — the juxtaposition of this fumbling idiot, with his endearing “hello” and “follow me” is the perfect salve, making this game the instant classic that we all know and love. Abe’s charm is such that, even today, when I greet my friends en français, the intonation of my “salut” matches that which my little brother somehow dug out of a bargain bin.
This all said, the fact that this game is a port of a remaster of a great game does not make it great in itself. So, the question is how well does this Switch port hold up?
I’m genuinely pleased to say that it holds up admirably well on Switch. Games about injustice will never go out of fashion. Slavery and genocide are as much an issue as ever before, and you could argue that it is more in the public eye than it was when the game was first released. The comic overlay of Abe chuckling at his own farts — an actual in-game mechanic — doesn’t detract from that. Instead, you have someone fighting injustice while still being able to find light in the life around him. That, I must admit, is an admirable quality in anyone.
The typical question of graphical compromises hangs over all Switch ports, but there have honestly been far more challenging ports of this game to PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. New ‘n’ Tasty on the Switch is great to look at and holds up well compared to the full fat PS4 version. Given what games looked like in 1997, any Switch port is going to look infinitely better and whether you’re playing handheld or on the big screen.
The only real issue the game has is with the sticky controls. The advent of the analogue stick wasn’t kind to the 2014 remake original port and this issue has not only persisted in the Switch version, but it’s made worse by the Switch’s notoriously drifty sticks.
Platformers invariably demand precise controls, but Abe often has other plans, and these generally involve Abe refusing to stand up (left stick) or let go of a hot grenade (right stick). Fortunately, the quicksave function makes life a lot easier here, as you’re going to accidentally die quite a lot. That’s only compounded if you have stick drift, and while that’s obviously not the game’s fault, I can’t help but think that mapping movement to the D-pad would have been a much better idea.