Another World – 20th Anniversary Hands-On Preview

2011 has been a good year for videogame anniversaries. First Sonic the Hedgehog turned 20, and now the sweeping sci-fi action/adventure game Another World (or Out of this World, as it’s known in the U.S.) is doing the same. To celebrate, Bulkypix and Dotemu are cleaning up this classic with new difficulty modes, improved graphics, and touchscreen controls.

The story, Another World’s strong suit, holds up just as well as it did in 1991. You play as a redheaded scientist who, while running experiments in his lab on a stormy night, is blasted into another dimension full of dangerous creatures that want to kill him. Escape doesn’t appear to be an option– just survival.

Another World is unique in that it often plays like a side-scrolling shooter and platformer, but it also contains complex environmental puzzles like an adventure game. At times, you’ll have to engage in laser battles with hostile aliens and leap over toothy crags, but you’ll also have to flood a cavern and shoot out a hanging light fixture to crush an oblivious guard.

With a bit of experience (or a handy walkthrough), Another World takes on a movie-like quality. First-time players might get lost or frustrated, so Bulkypix has toned down the original game’s difficulty for the Anniversary edition’s Normal mode. The original game is there, too, as Hard mode. Then, if you think you’ve mastered every detail of your character’s escape from the evil aliens, you can play through the whole game again in a much trickier Hardcore mode.

When Another World was first released in 1991, we had never seen a game with graphics like it before. Using rotoscoped animation, actors were filmed performing tasks like picking up a gun, or popping the top of a soda can, and then their performance was digitized for the game. As a result, the cutscene animation is highly realistic and directed like a movie, but with a strikingly abstract visual overlay.

In this 20th Anniversary edition, Another World’s graphics have been boosted to high-resolution, and the backgrounds have been given new details. For example, in the underground caverns, you can now see back into the caves, instead of just looking at a dark-blue smudge on the walls. If you’re feeling nostalgic, you can swipe downward with two fingers to switch to the original graphics– a clever trick borrowed from The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition.

What will really make or break this new iOS version, though, are the touchscreen controls. While you can play through the game with customizable D-pad and button controls, Dotemu has done a great job translating the game’s context-sensitive actions into smart touchscreen controls. You can tap on the edges of the screen to walk, double-tap to run, swipe to jump, and tap the bottom corners to fire your laser pistol. Several segments require a precise combination of moves to advance, but we still enjoyed using the new controls.

Another World is a classic game, and we’re glad Dotemu and Bulkypix didn’t just rush out a bare-bones port. Instead, they’ve improved and updated the game, making it more accessible for newcomers and more replayable for experts. Whether it’s your first time playing or your twentieth, you’ll want to pick up Another World – 20th Anniversary when it launches in the App Store as a universal app on September 22.

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