Another World is one of those... fundamentally satisfying platform adventure games. It sports an elegantly simple plot, in which a scientist gets accidentally disintegrated and transported to 'another world' and has to try to get home.
In the meantime, he teams up with an apish alien friend and tries to not get vapourised by the apish bully boys of the apish tyrannical government. No, 'apish' isn't the name of the otherworldly race, it's just that they look a bit like they're 16 bit runaways from the planet of the apes.
Another World: 20th Anniversary was released this September for the iPad. I never got around to playing the original on my Atari St back in 1991, so this has been a fresh treat for me.
The storytelling is subtle and engaging in a very 'silent movie' kind of way. It's all scenery, action, gesture, and music (which is suitably 'nineties atmospheric'), with a bit of aggressive apish gibbonish thrown in now and then for good measure. Yes, gibbonish...you know, gibberish that's spoken by an oversized gibbon. That's a type of monkey. Oh, never mind.
Anyway, what lifts Another World above your usual story-sparse arcade game is the relationship you form early in the piece with an apish alien. Nothing like a native friend to help you identify quickly with new and foreign land. Particularly when that friend seems to be a persecuted innocent, an outsider like yourself.
Why is he being hunted by bully-boys with laser guns? What terrible injustice is going on in this world? What can I do to help? All questions I'm keen to answer as I play and explore, thus I'm engaged and emotionally attached. Job well done, story.
Now, what's Another World like to play? It's got all the good basics of a 2D platform game, with your protagonist only being able to pull off physical feats pretty much approximate to what a reasonably fit human could manage. However, this is a computer-punching soft-drink swilling scientist we're wielding. Maybe he's an Edwin Hubble who was a track and field champ before he turned astronomer and had a giant telescope named after him.
Control-wise you can opt for touch or virtual joypad. I had a bit of trouble getting my head around the touch option (and kept having venomous slugs bite me on the knee) so I went with joypad. Much easier. Sensitive enough to let me sidle up to the edge of spiked pits of doom and many-teethed tentacled nasties. This control mechanic was especially good when I earned my first three phase laser gun. Tap to fire. Hold for force field. Hold longer for 'blast holes in walls' fun.
My only issue with the joypad arose when I had to do a fast change of direction, or go from a standing start into a run in a hurry. A bit sluggish… it left me hankering after my old Quickshot 2 Turbo.
And the challenge factor? Almost Goldilocks (just right). The puzzles are situational, meaning they're of the good 'how do I get past the guard without getting fried' or 'how do I keep the tentacled thing busy so that it won't eat me' ilk.
My only issue is that the auto-save points are a little far apart. I do hate tramping through screens that I've already traversed time and time again for the sake of one tricky jump or gun battle. I guess it's in the name of jeopardy (you’ve got to lose before you can really feel like you’ve won) but in this instance it's more irritating than suspense inducing.
Still, apart from the above foibles of game play, Another World: 20th Anniversary is a fine piece of work. It’s going to be a satisfying fix for nostalgia junkies (you can even opt for 16-bit aesthetics instead of HD if you so desire), and damned good fun for those of you who have only recently been transported to Another World.