When I initially got back into my retro gaming and subsequent collecting around 2014 one of the first things I wanted to do was purchase the real key games missing from my current collection. My remit was simple; get hold of all the games that brought me so much pleasure when growing up. One title I needed to get my grubby little mitts on was the Delphine classic Another World (known as Out of This World to our US readers). I had put so many glorious hours into this game when I originally owned it on the mighty Amiga and was desperate to replay this beauty. It didn’t take too long to succeed in my mission when I saw a pristine Mega Drive copy of the popular title at the awesome Playnation Games in Croydon for a measly price of around £10. I grabbed the box and paid for it quicker than you can say “this game is out of this world…”
A few weeks had passed and I had managed to traverse through the first few levels of Another World when I came across the fascinating news that a team of French programmers (with the blessing and assistance of the games legendary creator Eric Chahi) had already begun work on Another World for the Atari Jaguar. This version would apparently be the best console version of the game with smooth gameplay and perfectly crisp graphics that would push the Jag to its 64-bit limits. I quickly jumped at the opportunity to purchase a copy of this now very rare title.
Let’s just say I haven’t played the Mega Drive version since! Another World on the Jag is a true masterpiece and shows very clearly what the consoles main strengths could be and it has quickly become one of my favourite and most treasured items in my personal game collection. Don’t get me wrong, the Mega Drive version is by no means shabby, but the remastered Jag version seems to make marginal improvements in every department (from slicker graphics to improved sound) to help create one of the most polished and well developed conversions of a video game.
The game starts with one of the most legendary and well animated intro sequences ever made. The animation used is crisp, smooth and so well done, I honestly don’t think the style has aged a day since I first laid eyes on it in the early 90s. The story starts with Lester (a young physicist) showing off his immaculate parking skills with his sports car zooming into shot. Lester than enters a lift and passes through various scanners and security measures to enter a futuristic lab. He quickly logs into his computer and uses Windows 16 (this cannot be 100% verified) to play around with some modification of particles (don’t try this at home folks!!!). Lester is clearly a man who believes in his abilities, as he nonchalantly sits back and opens a can of soda. However, Lester’s experiment quickly goes awry when he somehow manages to cook up a lightning storm which then transports a huge chunk of his lab (Lester included) to another dimension or should I say… Another World! Eric Chahi deserves massive kudos for this piece of art which sets the scene perfectly for the unforgettable game that lays ahead.
Another World is a platform game that shares a similar look and feel to Prince of Persia and Flashback. Controlling Lester you must battle your way through numerous alien landscapes and settings. You start the game unarmed, but quickly acquire a nifty laser (more on that later). Throughout this amazing game you come across a small selection of different foes and situations which require a combination of quick thinking and quick reflexes.
The opening level starts with Lester being transported into a mysterious lake. SPOILER ALERT: Unless you are fan of underwater alien tentacles that want to drag their prey to a watery grave, it is highly advisable to point upwards on your joypad and help Lester swim to the surface. I feel the first level acts as a subtle tutorial, where you quickly learn how to control Lester and navigate through the stunning levels and obstacles. An additional element of Another World that quickly grabbed my attention was the lack of onscreen menus, health bars and points. You simply see Lester amongst his mysterious alien environment and I wouldn’t have it any other way! This helps make the game even more immersive and the fact the game has a one hit and you are dead impetus, you soon learn to take mighty good care of your young protagonist.
You soon get captured by a weird humanoid alien race and find yourself in a swinging jail cell inside a highly guarded prison camp. This is where I feel the game quickly turns from a top game to a legendary game by introducing you to your fellow inmate “Buddy”. After escaping your cell and subsequently also freeing your soon to be alien friend, you quickly build a good relationship which will become extremely important as the game progresses. Lester and Buddy are one of my favourite video game duos. The fact they can’t communicate with their mother tongue just makes the relationship even more remarkable. You both have a simple goal; escape the prison camp and this bizarre planet.
I don’t want to spoil any future levels and settings, however, you really get the sense that the game transports you to a different planet with out of this world visuals. If you haven’t already played this masterpiece, I highly recommend playing this game as soon as possible!
Another very clever and original aspect of Another World is the laser you acquire quite early in the game. This multi-purpose gun has three clever uses. Simply pressing the shoot button will send out a quick laser burst that will quickly take down your foes with one shot. Keeping the shoot button pressed for a second or two and then released will release a very handy (albeit temporary) force field which will protect you from an onslaught of lasers. Hold down the shoot button for even longer and your gun will really come into its own! A giant laser beam will be charged, which can be used to blow down doors or enemy force fields. There is something so satisfying about sending across a huge destructive laser beam, destroying everything in its path and leaving your enemies as little more than charred bones.
As mentioned earlier, the game shows-off amazing graphics that haven’t aged a bit! Lester and every other character in the game are so slick and their movements are so smooth, Another World really is a treat for your eyes. The backgrounds and settings are memorable and really make you feel part of the game. The game also boasts a simple but effective soundtrack and sound effects – hearing the destruction caused by your uber laser beam is nothing short of amazing.
The game’s difficulty curve is spot on. You start at a nice pace, but things will quickly start upping the ante. There were more than a few times I had to really think about what I needed to do to help me advance in the game. One small gripe is the length of the game. If you are a really seasoned platformer and good at problem solving you could probably complete the game from start to finish in a matter of hours. Another reason you are likely to complete the game relatively quickly is the novel check point system. If you die (trust me, you will die constantly) you do not have to start the game from the beginning. Throughout the game, there are invisible check-points. When trigged you will always start back at this point after you die. When you progress in the game, you will automatically trigger new check-points. This game mechanic is perfect for this game, however it does make the game easier and quicker to complete.
Overall the game is well worth playing today, and it is pretty obvious why so many future legendary game designers have spoken so positively about Another World’s influence. This fabulous game helped influence Flashback, Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill – I don’t think there is any higher praise than that!
If you cannot get a copy of Another World on the Atari Jaguar, you won’t have to settle too much for a slightly inferior copy on numerous other consoles and computers. However you manage to play this game, one thing is for certain; the game will take you to another world!