Another World - 20th Anniversary Edition Review
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
Another World, Another System
Another World: 20th Anniversary Edition belongs in the download era, as the retail success story of the original truly laid the groundwork for narrative-driven, minimalistic and artistic games that are now becoming increasingly common away from high street shelves. When first released its cinematic flair was a revelation, and stands today as an important, landmark title, albeit one that slightly betrays its age.
We previously published a review of the Wii U version and, ultimately, it's our main assessment of this title. In fact, we're not sure why we're surprised that the 3DS version compares favourably to its home console equivalent, as we are dealing with a game two decades old. For Nintendo gamers unsure of which version to pick up, it ultimately comes down to a choice of having a higher resolution, more attractive version or on-the-go convenience.
To recap on the basics of the title, it's the vision of Éric Chahi, and leaves a series of events and the setting as a whole largely up to your interpretation. Your stylish, successful young protagonist drives his Ferrari to a futuristic lab to run an experiment, albeit with a slightly casual, relaxed air; a lightning storm promptly causes it to go wrong and you find yourself in a strange, alien world. What follows is a relatively short quest in which you're captured and seek escape, all without any clear explanation of events.
What follows is a particularly challenging 2D adventure title with a heavy emphasis on trial and error. The ambiguity of the setting carries across to a lack of signposting and help through the gameplay, though this anniversary edition does at least give you a basic Help page to explain the vital three stages of firing your gun — primary shot, shield and a power shot. You will die a lot — it's unavoidable — while trying to figure out your next steps, and even when you've got a pattern down or understand what to do, execution can still be tricky.
The controls are simple, with A as your fire button and occasional variation of 'action' button, while holding down allows you to run; B serves as a jump. The challenge is in deciphering some fairly obtuse environmental puzzles, while some gun fights can be tricky enough to endanger the safety of your 3DS; the easy difficulty setting is ideal for easing the latter, though the tough puzzles remain. It's that act of discovery that will immediately turn off players not of a mind for a methodical, patient approach, yet in the hands of the right player it's actually the defining redeeming quality of the title.
It's a challenge that will draw some into its world, with that immersion only intensified by stylish — albeit ageing — visuals and excellent sound design. There are modern titles with far greater resources at their disposal that can't match the carefully constructed experience of Another World, which is primarily why it stands up well today. It should be noted however that stereoscopic 3D is not supported, which is a bit of a shame but not entirely unexpected.
That said, this anniversary edition of a bona-fide classic adopts a light touch that can either be praised as respectful of the source or slightly lazy, depending on your perspective. There are neat additions, such as the ability to switch between the rather jagged original visuals or a smoothed out alternative with a touch of the Y button, though the impact of the change is less noticeable on the 3DS screen than on a HD TV through the Wii U. Multiple sound options are also welcome, with the original track, remastered original and another option with the 'console' music of the '90s all included. The first two options are likely to be the purist's choice, though the console music is actually entertaining in an old Sci-Fi movie sense.
Overall, this is a pleasurable experience for retro gamers with memories of having their minds blown by the original, or younger gamers with a taste for the history of the medium. Such is its impact that repeated playthroughs can be enjoyable, even if experienced players can blast through in under an hour. Such is the tricky nature of the title, meanwhile, that even knowing the solution doesn't completely remove the sense of challenge or accomplishment when the credits roll.
Another World: 20th Anniversary Edition is certainly worth consideration for the correct audience, either as a reminder of a genre-defining classic or as a form of gaming education. Its iconic design still stands tall, even if in the modern era it will be incomprehensible and frustrating in the wrong hands; fan service aside, this is also a fairly limited upgrade of the original. As for the choice between Wii U and 3DS, that's down to which systems you own and whether you want to play on the go — both versions do their job admirably.