I love the Oddworld universe. It’s a beautiful,original world that’s full of life and leaves plenty of room for expansion. I also like the Bioshock universe. It’s a beautiful,original world that’s full of life and leaves plenty of room for expansion. The difference being between these two games is that Bioshock gained critical acclaim and looks set to become a big universe where as the Oddworld games, while recieving favourable reviews and a cult appeal, failed to prosper and eventually died, or at least went into a long hibernation. Sure, Oddworld Inhabitants were reported to be working on a new game/CGI movie called Citizen Siege but we’ve seen hide nor hair of it since it was announced, even though it’s supposed to be out this year. So why just did Oddworld fail to flourish while Bioshock has gone on to be show that games can be treated as art? Hit the jump to see my take on the argument.
Well one the one hand the Oddworld games were just released at the wrong times. The first two games were released at a time when 3D gaming was rising in popularity and the majority of people just didn’t care for an old fashioned 2D game, despite not knowing what they were missing out on. Then Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee was pressured by Microsoft into an Xbox launch title, putting it up against the then crazy popular Halo: Combat Evolved. Fighting for sales with a game like that didn’t help Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee’s case at all. (Being a rushed game didn’t help either). Of course there was Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath, which may have fared better if it hadn’t been an Xbox exclusive. So luck hasn’t been on Oddworld’s side, and perhaps if certain games in the series had come out at different times or on different consoles they would have done better.
But then, what about Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night? That was also a 2D title (a great one at that) and became many gamer’s favourite Castlevania game if not one of their favourite games ever. They both came out around the same time and were both available on the Playstation, yet it was Castlevania that fared better. Although this was probably becasue Castlevania was a recognised franchise. As you can see now with the likes of the Call Of Duty and Guitar Hero games, people would rather pick a safe option that they know they should enjoy against picking a risky newcomer like the Oddworld series was. It’s like betting on a horse with bad odds.
Braid is further proof to me that the 2D Oddworld games came out at the wrong time. Like said Oddworld games, Braid was an innovative game and had beautiful art and did very well, being one of Xbox Live’s most downloaded games of 2008. Perhaps if Oddworld had been 10 years too late ala Duke Nukem Forever, it might have fared better thanks to the digital download boom.
All in all Oddworld was just unlucky. Wrong times, exclusivity with the later titles and one rushed all affected it’s success resulting in an early grave. That being said it has come back slightly with the release of the first two games on the Steam and GOG services and Microsoft, if you’re listening, I’d love to see both of those game get XBLA releases. Gibbo out.