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Virtual Spotlight: Another World 20th Anniversary Edition 3DS

Eric Chahi's bittersweet adventure changed the language of gaming without uttering a single word. (In English, anyway.)

Critique by Bob Mackey, .

Call it a coincidence, but Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima tweeted this just one day before the release of Another World 20th Anniversary Edition on the 3DS eShop.

Keep in mind Another World was called "Outer World" in Japan, and "Out of this World" in America until recently.

I'm sure this message is meant to be taken literally, as in, "When can I play Another World on the PS4 or Xbox One?" But when this tweet popped up in my feed, my first interpretation was "When will this new generation of hardware see a game as fresh and revolutionary as Another World?" That's not me picking on Microsoft or Sony, mind you. Very few games of any generation come into being as untested and confident as Eric Chahi's labor of love—especially since it's become so much more difficult for a single production to be driven by the creative spirit of just one person.

Chahi didn't craft Another World without some important cues, of course. Without Jordan Mechner's Karateka and Prince of Persia, it's doubtful Chahi's game would feature the same rotoscoped graphics that depict the world in the visual language of cinema and endow the thoroughly average (at athletics, anyway) protagonist with a relatable sense of humanity. Mechner's games fell back into a reliable set of platforming and fighting mechanics, but Chahi aspired to something greater. While Another World pads out its length with some standard action segments—which feel much more forgiving than their original execution—Lester as a character can do much more than run, jump, and shoot. In fact, Another World feels like Chahi adapting the then-popular point-and-click adventure format to the grammar of action games: In any given scene, Lester is tasked with solving environmental puzzles in different ways, though these interactions are almost always performed using the same basic controls.

Welcome to Another World: Where everything wants to kill you in increasingly creative ways!

The design of Another World works in tandem with its incredible sense of atmosphere, as the player is given just as much information as Lester himself, and the game presents no real answers by the end. The unnamed dimension featured in Another World is one of conflict, sadness, and peril, as we see hints of a past civil war between the planet's several thousand natural death traps. Even as early as 1991, Chahi could've described this world with a verbosity that would make Wookiepedia blush. But he chose to let it speak for itself (in an alien language, no less), which gives Another World an enigmatic quality that's rarely seen outside of designers directly inspired by his game. It shouldn't surprise you that Team Ico's Fumito Ueda cites Another World as a major influence, and Ueda certainly takes after Chahi in terms of productivity. In the 23 years since its original release, Chahi has only released two games, one of them being fraught with production problems throughout its extended development cycle—sound familiar?

Thanks to Chahi's efforts, Another World has been made playable on just about every device capable of sending a signal to your TV—and seeing as this is the three-year-old 20th Anniversary Edition, there aren't many surprises to the 3DS version I checked out. With a touch of a button, you can switch from old to newer graphic styles, and this version includes the option to add music from the original, CD, and remastered editions of the game. But the experience is still the same regardless, and Another World is definitely an experience every gamer should have—and not just for the sake of checking out a historical curiosity. Another World still feels incredibly forward-thinking, almost as if Chahi had developed a game for this decade's indie scene without even realizing it. If you somehow missed Another World over the past few decades, and a 3DS (or Wii U) is your only outlet for video gaming, you've officially run out of excuses. I can't help you scrounge up that $7.99, though.

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  • Avatar for chrkckr #1 chrkckr 4 years ago
    Deleted June 2014 by chrkckr
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  • Avatar for metalangel #2 metalangel 4 years ago
    The story makes a bit more sense if you play the sequel (which Chahi himself wasn't too fond of, as Interplay made it), Heart of the Alien.

    How is it easier than the original? I played the original a lot, and the hardest part was always the jumping puzzles.
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  • Avatar for sean697 #3 sean697 4 years ago
    I downloaded and beat this on Wii U yesterday on normal and hard in a few hours. As great as this game was when it was first released. I would only reccomend this to someone who has never played this. Is brings pretty much nothing new to the table to those who have played it before other than a slightly fresh coat of paint. As far as making the control better, quite possibly, as I was never able to beat this on hard before. But it is exactly the same gameplay wise as the original and if you had played it before, a very short game.
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  • Avatar for Stealth20k #4 Stealth20k 4 years ago
  • Avatar for Funny_Colour_Blue #5 Funny_Colour_Blue 4 years ago
    @metalangel Heart of the Alien was pretty cool!

    ...I just wanted to say that before someone says the ending to "Another World" should have been left up to interpretation as Chiahi originally intended or that "bad sequels to games should never exist".

    ...which is a fair argument, but I think this is one of those rare instances where video games as a medium kind of pulls forward, because throughout Another World, you REALLY want to know what it's like TO BE THAT ALIEN!Edited June 2014 by Funny_Colour_Blue
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  • Avatar for airbagfin51 #6 airbagfin51 4 years ago
    Is there 3D in the 3DS edition?

    Which version is the morally right one to purchase, with this game?

    Candidates: PS4, Wii U
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  • Avatar for orakiorob #7 orakiorob 4 years ago
    @sean697 I've beaten this game countless times on many different platforms, but... man, I still can't get enough! ^_^ I have the anniversary edition on my PC, but I might end up buying both the 3DS and the Wii U version.Edited June 2014 by orakiorob
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  • Avatar for unoclay #8 unoclay 4 years ago
    Hi Bob,
    I'm glad you covered this. Nice writeup. I just sought out the SNES copy of this game (great Christmas gift from the wife) because I'd never played it, but seen screenshots and could tell it is something special. I've gotten about halfway through the SNES version, but the clunky controls and slow load make it a bit of a slog. I'm wondering if this revised version fixes some of those issues? Anyway, nice writeup worthy of a classic.
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  • Avatar for docexe #9 docexe 4 years ago
    I remember seeing this one in a magazine ages ago when it came out on the SNES. It looked so distinctive from everything else and immediately got my attention. Sadly, my father and me never found it in any store we looked for.

    I suppose I should finally play it once I get a Wii U… Or convince my brother to lend me his 3DS.
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  • Avatar for bobservo #10 bobservo 4 years ago
    @unoclay The 20th Anniversary version (as well as the 15th) makes AW feel like it was always meant to feel. There's no load times, more frequent checkpoints, no control lag, and the combat is more forgiving -- I actually finished it on the iPad (!!!) a few years back.
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  • Avatar for metalangel #11 metalangel 4 years ago
    @Funny_Colour_Blue Being the alien was pretty cool. He was a badass as it was without a weapon, with his energy-whip he was seriously tough. Unfortunately, so was the game, and I only got about halfway in.

    He had a starring role in a Nintendo Power Nester's Adventures strip, where he talked! Like a weird pseudo-Asian stereotype, no less.
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  • Avatar for VideoJocularPig #12 VideoJocularPig 4 years ago
    I just got this for my 3DS. I still love this game but I've gotta' say I was disappointed there wasn't an option for the SNES soundtrack. I only ever played it on the SNES and the sound was a huge part of why this game was so fascinating to me. There was a masterful use of atmospheric interludes and silence that helped drive the narration that isn't quite right with the CD console sound. A quick check on YouTube proved my nostalgia isn't misplaced...still a great game though. Guess I'll just have to dust of the SNES if I want my inner 16 year old self to be fulfilled:)
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