Abe's Oddysee

(GT Interactive) cd-rom


When it first appeared a few months back on the PlayStation, Abe's Oddysee was hailed as a breath of fresh air for the platform genre. Set in the biggest meat-processing plant on Oddworld, you control Abe, a lowly Mudokon floor waxer, who uncovers a dastardly plot to turn his people into lunch. So it's up to you to save the day.

However, despite its console success, there was no guarantee that the PC version would be any good. Fortunately, the developers have produced a near-perfect conversion. They've retained the hilarious intro, which is worth the price of the game alone, and have managed to reproduce the wonderful animation and detailed backdrops which made the original so pleasing to the eye. The gameplay also remains intact; all of Abe's original moves are here, as is Gamespeak, the means by which Abe communicates with other characters. And yes, most importantly of all, our hero still possesses the ability to break wind at the press of a button.

The only significant problem with this game is that it's too difficult. There's a very small margin for error, and, to make matters worse, you restart some way back in the level after you die. As a result, you find yourself doing the same thing over and over again.

When all is said and done, Abe's Oddysee is a 2D platformer, the likes of which we've seen countless times before. However, rarely has there been one as good-looking, funny and downright playable as this.

On release, pounds 39.99


Bushido Blade

(Sony) PlayStation

From the people that brought you Final Fantasy VII comes Bushido Blade, a new twist on the traditional beat-em-up format.

The game casts you as an ex-member of a secret team of assassins who is forced to fight his erstwhile friends in order to survive. There are six characters and eight weapons to choose from, as well as a two-player versus mode.

Squaresoft has put a great deal of thought into Bushido Blade, and it's jam-packed with innovative features. For instance, each of the weapons is suited to a particular character and, if you get the combination right, you can pull off some unique special moves. Another nice feature is the way you can interact with the fighting arenas. In some, you can throw dirt in your opponent's eyes, while in others you can hide behind objects and attack from raised positions. Battle must also be conducted according to the Bushido code of honour and, if you break the rules, the game is over.

With its innovative gameplay, gorgeous graphics and cool sound effects, you'd think this game would be a sure-fire hit. Well, unfortunately it isn't. It's let down largely by the sluggishness of the characters' movements. Snails move faster than these guys. Dead snails. It seems as if the developers were so concerned with producing something different that they forgot about the basics.

Highly original, but it doesn't deliver enough thrills.

Released in Feb, pounds 39.99