Munch’s Oddysee: Annoyances

As I’ve said, you can switch between controlling Abe and controlling Munch at the touch of a button. But I find I prefer to use Abe most of the time, switching to Munch only when necessary. Partly this is because Abe gets around better. He can jump a lot higher than Munch, and I think he walks faster as well, although this could be an illusion caused by their different gaits. But mainly I avoid using Munch because he makes this irritating “boing boing boing” as he hops along.

It’s especially disappointing because the sound design on the first two Oddworld games was so good, to the point of being a large factor in why I liked them as much as I did. The occasional dramatic drum riffs were particularly satisfying — solid, sharp and resonant. Sure, there were cartoony bits, such as the squeaking of the floor when Abe walked on tiptoe, but that was reasonably restrained and, moreover, usefully informative.

Munch’s boing isn’t even the worst of the cartoony sound effects in the game. Abe does much worse when he falls a long distance. But Munch’s walk is much more pervasive and unavoidable, and in addition, Munch is perilously close to being the game’s Scrappy-Doo anyway, being a suddenly-introduced character who doesn’t quite fit in stylistically with what’s gone before and who takes over the story. He’s even proportioned kind of like Scrappy, with that oversized head. I’d have complaints about his voice acting if he had more lines.

The thing is, though, all of the Oddworld games I’ve played have had their annoying aspects. In Abe’s Oddysee, it was the doggerel. All the cutscenes were narrated by Abe telling his story in terrible, terrible verse. This was quietly dropped for Abe’s Exoddus, which, however, upped the ante on fart jokes. Abe always had the ability to make fart noises as part of the same in-game speech system that let him say “Follow me!” and “Wait here!”, but in Abe’s Oddysee, there was no in-game reason to do so. Fart noises existed solely for the amusement of those players who found them amusing. Abe’s Exoddus, on the other hand, had a whole mechanic built around drinking fizzy beverages that made Abe gassy, then farting, then chanting to take control of the fart the same way that he takes control of Sligs. Munch’s Oddysee keeps the concept of beverages from vending machines granting special powers, but doesn’t use that specific power. So I’m kind of wondering now if Stranger’s Wrath, the fourth (and, to date, last) Oddworld game, will keep the pattern by dropping the boing sounds and/or getting rid of Munch entirely, but introducing some new annoyance.

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