Playing Another World 20th Anniversary Edition is like opening a pack of classic Pokémon cards. It’s like listening to Blur, Manic Street Preachers, Oasis or Backstreet Boys… well, maybe not Backstreet Boys. It’s like catching an episode of The Fresh Prince after school or watching Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure on VCR. If most of the above fills your heart with warmth, or even if you’re aware of what a VCR is, it’s quite likely that you lived in the 90s. I was born in 1991, so I didn’t get to play Another World until the late 90s, but I can still remember watching my older cousin play the game with its scruffy edges and clunky audio. It was, and still is, an incredibly simple game with a short and punchy plot. But, at its heart, Another World is quintessentially 90s. It’s the embodiment of a generation and it’s one of my fondest memories from that decade, so I loved every second of the 20th Anniversary Edition. For me, it brought back a flood of fond memories, and not just from my time spent gaming as a kid.
The plot for Another World, as I mentioned before, is rather simple. It’s based around a young scientist named Lester who, after an experiment gone wrong, accidentally transports himself into another world. From the second Lester sets foot into this other world, everything seems to be out to get him, from random slug monsters to Predator like aliens. He does have one glimmer of hope, however, in the bulky form of his humanoid alien companion ‘Buddy’. Together, he and Buddy must try to escape the barren wastelands, tower complexes and cave systems if they have any hopes of surviving.
Throughout the game the relationship between Buddy and Lester seems to be one of mutual respect, a sort of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” approach, and this really works well with the story. I felt a real connection with Buddy from the outset as he guided me through the alien planet, helping me at any given opportunity, all because I aided him in escaping from his cage. Your only weapon in the game is an alien blaster that can fire normal shots or be charged to create a laser shield, or a giant explosive shot. Combat is all about timing and strategically setting up your shields, mainly because the weapons dish out a one hit kill, but that’s for both you and the enemy. In all, Another World is simple and clear cut in many ways, but it’s also complex at points. It’s a real mix, much like the 90s.
The game is incredibly unforgiving at times. The controls are unresponsive on a good number of occasions and at many points in the game I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. So much so that I must have died well over 100 times. Well, I know that for a fact because I earned an achievement for dying at least 50 times in the first 20 minutes of the game. I spent much more time dying than I did anything else. But, again, that sums up gaming in the 90s pretty well. As gamers of the 21st century, we’ve been somewhat coddled by our video-games. We have games with constant checkpoints every five seconds, games where you can save at any point to ensure that you won’t have to repeat arduous tasks or puzzles ten times over and some games where you can’t even die.
I went back to play the original Sonic a few months ago and I couldn’t even get passed the second level – it was that tough. Sonic being a game that I used to play almost every day after school, a game that I’d completed at least three times by the time I was 10. I loved the difficulty of Another World, it made me feel like I’d actually achieved something when I’d completed a certain puzzle or killed a pesky enemy. I was playing it with my girlfriend at the time, and in just an hour or so of the game we’d had more high-five moments than any other title we’d played before, combined. I mean, we do like a high-five, but it was a bit excessive whilst playing Another World just because of the sheer difficulty of the game, and the unbeatable pleasure of overcoming the challenge.
In the 20th Anniversary Edition you’re able to switch the graphics between the original design and the updated HD version. You can also choose between the original audio and the updated digital audio. I personally opted for the 90s audio, because I’m a retro kid at heart. The new audio sounds great too, though. But you just can’t beat the classic retro feel that the clunky sounds give off. Smooth, crisp and clear sound is soooo 21st century. The 90s graphics setting is pretty shocking, as you’d imagine, but you can flick between the HD style and the 90s style simply by pressing the Y button, or the corresponding button on a different console / your PC. When I say shocking, I mean that it’s shocking to see how far game graphics have progressed in two decades. The original Another World was praised for its fantastic graphics, but now the original graphic setting just shows the age of the game. Not in a bad way, though. I quite enjoyed changing back to the 90s look for a bit of nostalgia, though the updated HD version is much prettier with its smooth lines and cool backgrounds.
Another World 20th Anniversary Edition is the perfect reminder of a fantastic decade. There was a lot to love about the 90s, and Another World definitely deserves part of that love. The game might not translate in the current-generation and if you’re thinking of getting a current-gen game to play on your Xbox One or PS4, this isn’t the game you’re looking for. With Another World many of you will find a sense of nostalgia in a perfectly executed game, others might appreciate a slice of retro heaven from a decade that may have passed them by. You’re not going to find hours of gameplay, current-generation graphics / audio or explosions and drama galore. It’s a simple game with a wonderful story, and it’s definitely a title that’s worth a go, especially for its cheap price tag. If you’re a fan of all things retro, Another World 20th Anniversary Edition is for you. If you go into it with an open mind, you’ll love every second, even the hair tugging moments of frustration after you’ve died for the two-hundredth time.