Oddworld Munch's Oddysee
One of the key titles in the Xbox launch line-up was Oddworld Munch's Oddysee. A platform game with a solid pedigree, it promised much and all those clips that we saw prior to the US launch of the Xbox certainly seemed to promise much on both the graphical and the gameplay side of things. Well after playing the game I can honestly say that in terms of graphics and gameplay it does not disappoint but much to our dismay it does lack subtitles and therefore appeal to the deaf gamer.
The story revolves around Abe the Mudokon and Munch the Gabbit. Both characters have to obtain the eggs, which contain the unborn of both of their races, from the Vykkers Labs. The Vykkers are just one of the enemies that are out to get both Mudokon and Gabbits. Other enemies include the Glukkons, Interns, Sligs and the Big Bro Sligs. The Vykkers are the real danger though as they like to experiment their products on the innocent creatures of Oddworld. And so it is in this evil environment that Abe and Munch come together. United they must defeat their enemies and claim back what is rightfully theirs.
As you may be aware there have been previous games in the series and the game shows movie clips to bring you up to speed on the story so far. The annoying thing though is that they aren't subtitled so you not going to learn much at all. The game also begins with a lovely cutscene that is also unsubtitled and therefore disappointing again. Once into the game you will notice that all conversations are unsubtitled and comments from Abe and Munch are unsubtitled. Bizarrely though in a scene where the Fuzzles, the animals that Munch has to rescue, are talking to Munch the conversation is subtitled. The reason for this is that the Fuzzles are talking in a weird voice and therefore the hearing gamers wouldn't understand the conversation. Oh! the irony of it, subtitles for the hearing gamers.
On a brighter note the information polls, that are placed next to important objects that Abe and Munch must interact with, all give their information in text and therefore inform the deaf gamer on how to use the Spoocelock, egg nest or whatever it may be. In fact in many ways this enables the deaf gamer to at least get some kind of value and direction out of the game.
The gameplay is good and the emphasis is on co-operation between the two characters. Initially Abe and Munch are separated but they soon come together. Puzzles after this point concentrate on you using their separate talents to find solutions. Abe can't go into the water but Munch is an amphibian and is a very quick swimmer. Munch is a slow mover on land until he finds a wheelchair but there are times when only Abe can complete the task at hand. Munch rescues the Fuzzles and Abe rescues the Mudokons. This fact alone means that you are constantly swapping between the characters.
As you go through the game you will sometimes need the help of other Mudokons or Fuzzles and you can give commands to them via the X, Y, and B buttons. The only problem here though is that the verbal commands and responses between the characters are not subtitled and therefore you will feel in the dark and unsure if your chosen command has worked.
Graphically the game looks very good and contains some fantastic lighting effects. The character animations have also been well done. The funny thing is though that it never seems to be stretching the graphical muscle of the Xbox. A special mention must go to the water textures, they look incredible and will gobsmack you the first time you seem them I guarantee it.
When all is said and done though Oddworld Munch's Oddysee is a very disjointed affair for the deaf gamer. It is possible to get through the game but there will be barriers to your enjoyment and in a game of this nature there are enough puzzles for you to contend with already without having to work out just what is going on.
Overall Game Rating: 6.3/10 Oddworld Munch's Oddysee is a decent enough platformer but it's lack of subtitles make for a sterile, storyless experience for the deaf gamer and it is a real shame.
Deaf Gamers comment: The information polls and their text instructions are the only real text feedback in the game. Unsubtitled cutscenes, conversations and no mission objectives in text mean that only the keenest of Oddworld fans will find any enjoyment here.