Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee
|Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee|
Digital Dialect (PC)
Saffire (Game Boy)
Jeffrey Nicholas Brown
Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee is a platform video game developed by Oddworld Inhabitants and published by GT Interactive. It was released in 1997 for the PlayStation video game console, DOS and Microsoft Windows in North America, Australia and Europe. The game was released under the title Abe a GoGo (エイブ・ア・ゴーゴー Eibu A Gōgō?) in Japan for the PlayStation by publisher SoftBank, with a PC version following in 2001. The Game Boy version of Abe's Oddysee, retitled as Oddworld Adventures, was developed by Saffire Corporation and published by GT Interactive in 1998.
The game centers on the titular Abe, a Mudokon slave at the 'RuptureFarms' meat processing factory. When he discovers that he and his fellow Mudokons are to be slaughtered, he decides to escape and liberate as many enslaved Mudokons as he can. The player assumes the role of Abe as he attempts a perilous quest to emancipate his downtrodden people.
Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee was widely acclaimed for having innovative gameplay, good graphics, and engaging cut-scenes; however, its steep learning curve and system of saving only at checkpoints, received criticism. It was the first game in the planned five-part Oddworld series, which also includes its direct sequels, Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus, Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee and Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath. A remake titled Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty! was developed by Just Add Water and released through digital distribution in 2014.
Abe's Oddysee is a two-dimensional platform game in which players take control of the character Abe, to travel across separate screens: solving puzzles, navigating obstacles, and avoiding enemies. Abe will die if attacked by an enemy, touched by an obstacle, dropped from too great a height, or even holding a grenade for too long, respawning at the last checkpoint. As well as jumping to navigate areas and crouching to roll under obstacles, Abe can break into a run to jump over large gaps or escape enemies, or tiptoe to avoid disturbing enemies. Abe can also use throwable objects such as meat, rocks or grenades to bypass enemies or destroy obstacles, though grenades have a timer and, as explained, will blow up Abe if he holds one for too long. 
Abe has the ability to telepathically control Sligs (a type of non-player character), but can only use this in safe areas. Flying orbs in certain areas also prevent Abe's telepathy by zapping him. Once Abe successfully possesses a Slig, Abe can use them to attack other enemies and activate mechanisms dangerous to himself, and can then destroy them. Abe's body is immobile and vulnerable whilst possessing someone else, whereas if his host is killed, control will return to Abe's body.
Along the way, the player will encounter other Mudokons that he can rescue. By holding down the GameSpeak button and pressing various commands, Abe can command them to follow him, stay put, and activate mechanisms, as well as praise or scold them. Sometimes Abe will have to go through certain procedures to persuade a certain Mudokon, such as responding to whistles. Mudokons can be rescued by safely leading them past traps and enemies to bird portals, which can be activated by chanting. If the player rescues at least 50 Mudokons during the course of the game, Abe survives the ending.
Throughout the game, Abe is attacked by Sligs, Scrabs, and Paramites. Sligs will shoot on sight, but cannot see through dark areas; Scrabs will attack anyone in their territory; whilst Paramites will attack in packs and become shy alone. Elums are bipedal creatures that Abe can ride and communicate with by GameSpeak, although they will be distracted by dripping honey. Late in the game, Abe gains the ability to transform into a demigod 'Shrykull', which can eviscerate all on-screen enemies. Abe can use this ability once after rescuing a certain amount of Mudokons at the same time.
Abe's Oddysee includes only four named characters, and many anonymous slaves and guards. The protagonist of the game is Abe, a Mudokon slave worker born into captivity and ignorant of his people's rich history and culture. Abe is often described as a "klutz"; and his mouth is sewn shut, possibly to prevent his outcry.
During his adventure, Abe is joined by the Elum ("Mule" spelled backwards): a stubborn, loyal assistant. Abe and Elum were originally envisioned as beginning Abe's Oddysee together, living off the land until thrust into an industrial factory; but the developers determined that the story was stronger should Abe come from a factory existence to self-sustenance.
A mentor enters the story in Big Face, the shaman of the Mudokon people, who wears a large wooden mask from which his name is derived. He saves Abe from death and sets him to rescue his compatriots and face the trials of the Monsaic Lines, before freeing the eventual dozens of freed slaves.
The primary antagonist of the game is Molluck the Glukkon, the ruthless chief executive officer of the meat-packing factory titled RuptureFarms.  Because Molluck's business empire is failing in decline of the wildlife whose meat he sells, Molluck decides to use his Mudokon slave population in his food products.
Abe's Oddysee begins with the eponymous protagonist as a prisoner in RuptureFarms, from which he narrates his story. He and many other Mudokons are slaves to Molluck the Glukkon, the owner of RuptureFarms: "the biggest meat-processing plant on Oddworld". Abe is a contented floor-waxer First Class and currently Employee of the Year.
At the time of the story, the ingredients of the corporation's three major "Tasty Treats" (Scrab Cakes, Paramite Pies, and Meech Munchies) are quickly running out, with the Meeches already extinct. While working late, Abe overhears Molluck's plan to use the Mudokon slaves as meat products called "Mudokon Pops!", which frightens Abe into escaping from the factory.
Outside RuptureFarms and the surrounding Free-Fire Zone, Abe sees a moon with its face in the shape of a Mudokon handprint. Thereupon he falls down a cliff, smashing his head; and as he lies on the ground, the shaman BigFace  orders Abe to rescue his enslaved brethren and "restore the lost land", having first accomplished the Mudokons' spiritual trials in the forests of Paramonia and the deserts of Scrabania. In each land, Abe traverses a labyrinthine, abandoned temple; and after each of these, BigFace marks one of Abe's hands with a scar: one representing the Paramites and one representing the Scrabs. When Abe has both scars, he can become the Shrykull, an invincible demigod. 
With this new ability, Abe returns to RuptureFarms, rescues his Mudokon brethren, and deactivates most of the factory's power. When Molluck sees this and decides to flood the entire factory with poisonous gas, Abe uses the Shrykull's power to destroy the Glukkon executives and terminates the gas; but is himself captured. What happens next depends on how many Mudokons were rescued throughout the game; if the player has rescued at least 50 Mudokon slaves in the game, the free Mudokons electrocute Molluck and BigFace rescues Abe, but if the player fails to rescue 50 Mudokons throughout the game, Molluck kills Abe instead. Subsequent games and media treat the Good Ending as canonical.
In the initial PlayStation version of the game, upon "perfect" completion of the game — completion with all 99 Mudokon slaves rescued — an extra full motion video (FMV) "Guardian Angel" can be viewed, which depicts a captured Abe harassed by "The Shrink": a mechanical creature with a sophisticated artificial intelligence. The FMV is notable due to its absence from the PC version and later PlayStation releases of the game, and its introduction of a new character to the Oddworld mythos. The character was reputedly part of an early advertising campaign, which included television commercials, but was eventually abandoned.
Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee began production in January 1995 under the working title of Soul Storm. After GT Interactive acquired publishing rights on September 12, 1996, the title was changed, first to Epic and eventually to Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee. The game had a private showing at E3 '96, but it was not until E3 '97 that journalists took note of the game and it was generally well received. The version of the game shown at E3 '97 was remarkably similar to the release version, and Abe's Oddysee had a reportedly smooth development cycle with few late changes.
The first footage creator Lorne Lanning saw of Abe's Oddysee involved a pack of meeches chasing Abe. He said he was happy with the animation at the time but when development was nearing completion, the studio discovered that there was not enough disk space to include all of the species featured in the game. The meeches were removed from the final game and identified in the story as extinct. Another sequence under time and budget constraints concerned the moon that Abe witnesses after his escape from the Stockyards. Lanning explained that the CG sequence that occurs between Abe escaping RuptureFarms and entering the Stockyards was originally accompanied by footage of a meteor shower creating the shape of Abe's handprint, in order to imply "greater forces that are really behind it, that are trying to send him symbols".  The budget for the game was $4 million.
Abe's Oddysee was the first major GT title that the UK development team, that had been taken in by GT following the acquisition of Warner Interactive, became involved with. The testing process of the game was unusual for GT Interactive as the British team did game play testing whilst normally American games were only tested in Europe for language and other compatibility issues. The soundtrack features mostly ambient music composed by Ellen Meijers.
When Abe's Oddysee was in production, the developers found that a male executive at publisher GT Interactive tried to sabotage production because he didn't like the game being made. He took footage of the game to his boss, who loved the direction the game had, and chose to provide more funding at the expense of the executive that wanted to shut it down. Lanning later explained that in 1997 during Oddysee's production, men in the video game industry were seen as making toys, and not taken seriously. Men were "happy to make a living, but they weren’t necessarily going out and bragging about it" Games began to be more about shooting and violence and blood, but Oddworld Inhabitants was "the antithesis to that" and said "we can make people feel better rather than just feel like they won."
The game saw its first release on the PlayStation, DOS and Windows on September 19, 1997, on a day dubbed as "Odd Friday" by the developer and publisher; over 500,000 units were originally released worldwide. The Japanese version followed in October.
For the release in Japan, the title of Abe's Oddysee was changed to Abe a GoGo by the publisher SoftBank. Other changes included the art for the "Mudokon Pops!" packaging, which originally consisted of a Mudokon head speared on a stick. Due to undisclosed current events in Japan, the design was changed to a more ambiguous, "happier" image. The design for the protagonist Abe and other Mudokons was also significantly altered. Certain Japanese pressure groups were offended by the Mudokons having four fingers and most of them working in a meat-packing factory, due to a historic Japanese subclass of meat packers who were looked down upon in society. Four fingers, or showing four fingers to another person, came to insinuate the other was a member of the subclass, because it suggested the meat packers who lost fingers at work. Oddworld Inhabitants had to alter the design of Mudokons to three fingers, or else face legal battles and large fines.
Oddworld Inhabitants made the altered designs a permanent feature; subsequent versions of Abe's Oddysee released outside Japan (including New 'n' Tasty!) included both the changed packaging and changed Mudokon hand. Future games and media also recognise these changes as canon, although Abe's Exoddus oddly features four-fingered Mudokon sprites, and scenes from Abe's Oddysee shown in the game were not altered.
The Game Boy port was released as Oddworld Adventures; it was developed by Saffire Corporation and published by GT Interactive in 1998. The game is a significantly cut-down version of Abe's Oddysee, with only a few similar levels and a condensed plot (Abe starts out as a native Mudokon, so the opening levels in RuptureFarms are absent from this version).
Upon its release in 1997, Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee received mostly positive reviews. Edge described the game as "a tight 2D platformer that's packed with great innovative touches and some great character design". GameSpot gave the PlayStation version 8.4 out of 10 and praised the game as "the ideal platformer, balancing its action and puzzle elements perfectly to make the game intelligent, engaging, and, best yet, fun". Animation World Magazine applauded multiple aspects of the game, saying it "features some of the best graphics and animation we've ever seen" and commenting on the "sophisticated gameplay". The graphics struck many reviewers as being excellent, as while the game is two-dimensional, all elements were rendered in 3D programs. PC Zone remarked that "the developers have created an outstanding visual environment for Abe to leap around in," while GamePro described the graphics as "eye-popping". The game's audio was often singled out for praise. GameSpot gave the music a score of nine out of ten.
Most criticism toward the game was directed at the save system. Edge said that "Oddworld demands a certain level of commitment to progress", while Science Fiction Weekly claimed the game's "innovative game play makes for a steep learning curve. This initial difficulty in figuring out how to play is aggravated by a save feature that often forces players to redo difficult sections." PC Zone stated that "progress does seem to rely on trial and error, which involves much replaying of levels and gnashing of teeth. All this can be frustrating at times, especially when Abe is plonked right back at the start of a level when he dies". The game's follow-up, Abe's Exoddus, notably implemented a suspend save feature that did not require the reaching of checkpoints.
The game won many awards, including the "E3 Showstopper 1997" from GamePro in August 1997 and the "Best Director" award at the World Animation Festival in 1997. In the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences' first annual Interactive Achievement Awards it was nominated in the categories "Console Adventure Game of the Year" and "Outstanding Achievement in Sound and Music".
Abe's Oddysee received two direct sequels. Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus was released for PlayStation in November 1998, taking place directly after Oddysee. The game continues the style of gameplay from the previous game with several improvements, such as the ability to use GameSpeak with different species and possess explosive clouds of wind. Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee was released for Xbox in 2001, bringing the gameplay into 3D environments as well as allowing players to play as another character, Munch.
A remake of Abe's Oddysee was developed by UK studio Just Add Water. The game was built using the Unity game engine and was released on July 22, 2014 on the PS4 on the PlayStation Network in North America and a European release on July 23, 2014 with other release dates for the PS3, PS Vita, PC, Mac and Linux to be announced later.
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- Abe: [BigFace] said our land was changing, wasn't balanced as best. / He told me my fate was to rescue the rest. / For Paramites and Scrabs had been sacred once, / But that was before RuptureFarms turned them into lunch. / And they lived in jungles, that's where they still nest. / Facing these creatures, that was my test.
- Abe: The Glukkons were scared, 'cause profits were grim, / Paramites and Scrabs were turning up thin. / But Molluck was cool—he had a plan, / A new source of meat was already at hand. / Finding New and Tasty would not be a fuss, / This new kind of meat—it was us! / I had to escape, I had to be free, but there was no escaping my destiny.
- Abe: This is RuptureFarms... They say it's the biggest meat-processing plant on Oddworld.
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