Remakes of classic games are sometimes a slippery slope. A developer could spruce up the graphics to their hearts' content, but if the core elements of the game don't work in 2014, then the entire game will suffer. There are plenty of games that deserve another shot at the limelight, but there are others that should just stay locked away in our memories, never to return.
Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty almost fits into that latter category. The visual style has been completely overhauled, creating worlds and environments that are simply marvelous, but the controls are stuck in the original PlayStation era, feeling clunky and over-complicated to the point of madness. More accidental deaths have come from controlling this game than any other game in this new console generation, which is never a good thing.
The frustration of living in the past should have ruined New 'n' Tasty. The sour taste in my mouth is neither new nor tasty. However, everything else about this game seems like it was originally made for the 2014 industry. The "protect our environment" storyline is still as relevant as ever, saving the Mudokons via the out-of-the-box puzzles are just as fun today as they were in the late '90s, and Abe himself is just wonderful, reminding me that I should never underestimate the power of a great lead character.
If you played Oddworld before, the game's stage layout and objectives are exactly the same. Think of it as you would when visiting Disney World multiple times; you're not visiting Oddworld for a completely new experience, you're visiting to see what's new in the old haunts. Scrabs, Paramites, and Sligs still roam the worlds looking to turn Abe into dust, 300 Mudokons still need to be saved from becoming the next great RuptureFarms meal, and the Glukkons are still asshats. Nothing's changed, but in these aspects, they didn't need to.
There are some drawbacks to this dedication to authenticity, however. I forgot that areas cannot be re-visited once you move on to a new stage, so my entering the Stockyards before saving all of the Mudokons in the first area led to 50 casualties I hadn't intended. There is a warning, a sign right before the door that says, "If One Escapes, The Rest Die!" or something like that, but it looks like background decoration and I had already saved 20-some prisoners without anyone dying. Thinking, "This is 2014, I can come back later," I advanced without considering I was controlling a game with 20-year-old limitations. Sorry, 50 now-dead Mudokons. Next time I'll save you, I swear.
Some thing have changed in Oddworld besides the incredible new graphics, and they're here to lighten the game's difficulty for the new generation of players. A new save option allows you to make your own checkpoints before attempting a difficult section, because going back to 30 seconds before the trial is way better than going back to ten minutes beforehand. There are "co-op" features, but that name is very deceiving; a second player takes over where the first player left off, which means according to New 'n' Tasty the original Super Mario Bros. is a co-op game, too. I had thought I might see Abe and other Mudokon working together to save the species. I was wrong.
An updated release of an older game must always be met with caution, but Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty somehow manages to meld the ideas of yesterday with the visual power of today to create a wonderful return for Abe and his Oddworld. It's not completely 1998-proof, but if anything those foibles will just remind you of the good old days of wanting to hear your freakin' hair out after screwing up that jump for the fifty-fifth time. Ah, memories.
This review was completed using a downloaded copy of Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty for PlayStation 4.