Another World (video game)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

It took 6 days to create the Earth.
Another World took 2 years.

Another World is a Cinematic Platform Game developed by Eric Chahi. The title of the game was changed to Out of This World when it was released in America, to avoid confusion with the popular NBC Soap Opera, Another World. [1] In Japan, the game is known as Outer World.

To say the game was innovative was an understatement. Chahi himself wrote a polygon routine that would allow the graphics to be composed of vector outlines -- which would take up less space than normal sprite graphics. Like Jordan Mechner, Chahi also used video recordings of his own brother to create rotoscoping animations for the project. The result was an epic, cinematic masterpiece which told a story without the use of dialogue, voicework or screen text, and with cutscenes that led from one part of the story to the next. Controlling the player character was done via six buttons, with the player character performing a wide variety of different tasks depending on his location, speed, and movement.

The story itself concerns a hapless, adventurous and athletic young physicist named Lester Knight Chaykin, whose particle accelerator experiment gets zapped by lightning one evening, sending him to a hostile alien world. There, Lester gets captured by an advanced race of huge warlike humanoids, who send him to an underground prison colony. With the help of a fellow prisoner, Lester breaks out. He then spends the rest of the game trying to evade recapture and death at the hands of...well... pretty much everything on the planet.

This game is notable, not only for its dramatic storytelling and early survival-horror roots, but also for being one of the most Nintendo Hard games to come down the pike since Battletoads. The slightest misstep meant death in any number of horribly unspeakable ways. The console versions of the game -- such as the SNES port -- were made more difficult than the MS-DOS/Macintosh versions (which themselves were more difficult than the original Amiga version), reportedly to give players "more value for their money". (Although it may give some players a strong desire to throw their keyboard/joypad at their TV.)

A decent (yet unpolished) sequel was made for the Sega CD without Chahi's involvement: Heart of the Alien, starring Lester's buddy from the first game. The original author did not agree with the sequel's extension of the story, and part of the fanbase is broken over whether the sequel even counts. The sequel is easy to ignore in this respect, since it was only released on one failed platform, whereas the main game got a release on practically every 16-bit and 32-bit gaming platform.

Chahi eventually created a hi-def port of Another World for Windows XP with higher resolutions and better graphics. This version is known as the Collector's Edition and is well worth owning according to some, a blatant money grab according to others (because the first two levels, which are free, are markedly more "updated" than the later levels players must pay for).

By the way, here's an official freeware GBA port (also playable on emulators, of course).

The official PC version of the game can be bought from Good Old Games.

An iOS version of the game optimized for both iPhone and iPad, featuring added difficulty levels (both easier and harder) and both the original and remastered graphics and sound, is currently available.

Tropes used in Another World include:
  • Adaptation Expansion: The PC-DOS port (along with all the subsequent ports) added an entire stage between the scene where Buddy rescues Lester from a long dead-end corridor, but before they enter the gladiator arena. The 3DO version also adds an extended ending which serves as a teaser to Heart of the Alien (which strangely was never released for the 3DO).
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: Both the SNES and Genesis versions place extra emphasis on the Beast.
  • Badass Bookworm: Lester.
  • Bowdlerise: Alien blood and nudity were edited out of the North American SNES version (Chahi cynically defined "nudity" as the censors complaining about "three pixels of too much butt-crack" on a female alien, which were simply required to be shortened rather than removing the actual "nude").
  • Cardboard Prison: Lester and Buddy's ceiling-suspended cage.
  • The Cavalry: Lester is cornered in a room with no exits to his right and the enemies are coming in force from the left. Buddy appears from an above Air Vent Passageway, grabs Lester's arm and saves him not a moment too soon.
  • Charged Attack: Your gun has the ability to charge up into a powerful blast that can destroy a thick metal door in one shot.
  • Cool Car: Lester's black Ferrari in the opening cinematic.
  • Cutscene: There's a few.
  • Death by Looking Up: Lester swinging the cage he's suspended in, causing it to crash on his guard's head. Another clever puzzle involves a balcony above a patrolling guard. His reflection is seen on some hanging globes; shooting at the globe sends it plummeting onto his skull.
  • Deflector Shields: Temporary and stationary force shields that are created by charging the pistol for a second and releasing a newly formed Energy Ball to create a shield. They only protect Lester from standard shots, charged shots destroys them, and anything else can pass by them. The enemies has access to permanent kind, and are able to make the balls travel a short distance, usually from off-screen, before creating a shield.
  • Disintegrator Ray: The pistol reduces everyone to the scorched skeleton, which then explodes by itself, leaving nothing behind.
  • Downer Ending: In Heart of the Alien, Lester is fragged by an electric field and dies.
  • Enemy Rising Behind: The tentacled monster at the beginning of the game, which will grab you if you don't leave the vicinity of the pool after escaping from it.
  • Energy Ball: Charging the pistol can make two kinds of these: smaller ones for creating Force shields and the bigger ones for discharging a very powerful blast.
  • Energy Weapon: Everyone's gun.
  • Escape Pod: The tank in the gladiator arena has one that Lester and Buddy used to make their escape.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Probably one of the more extreme examples of this. Even the slugs in this game are deadly.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: See Death by Looking Up above.
  • Foreshadowing: When Lester discovers the city by looking through a window, he can see a silhouette on one of the buildings. Turns out it's the dragon he uses to escape the city.
  • Freak Lab Accident
  • Friendship Moment
  • Gentle Giant: Buddy, Lester's alien ally who helps him escape but leaves the fighting up to Lester until the very end.
  • Gladiator Games: The tank sequence.
  • Grey Skinned Space Babes: Near the conclusion of the game, Lester and Buddy crash-land into a swimming pool populated by distinctly female aliens (see Bowdlerization above).
  • Groin Attack: How Lester escapes the grasp of a jailer. Some things really are universal.
  • Guide Dang It: Several examples, including the tank button puzzle.
  • Have a Nice Death: Heart of the Alien includes cutscenes, most of which depict the many ways Buddy got killed.
    • The 20th anniversary editions of Another World has an achievement system (save for the GoG version). One achievement is called "Free Fall", which is granted immediately after Lester falls from a great height at a certain level. The timing is pretty funny.
  • Heroic Mime: Although pretty much everyone keeps very quiet (and the alien language is impossible to understand anyway).
    • In the one scene where he's still on Earth, there's no one for Lester to talk to, so he is still silent in the opening cutscenes.
  • Homage: When fully-charged, Lester's gun bears more than a slight resemblance to a Kamehameha... Incidentally, at the time of development, Chahi was busy reading DBZ mangas during coding breaks.
  • Leap of Faith
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: When combined with a Magical Particle Accelerator. Like transporting someone to another world.
  • The Many Deaths of You: Taken Up to Eleven in the sequel. See Have a Nice Death above.
  • Market-Based Title: Retitled Out of This World in North America to avoid confusion with the unrelated soap opera Another World. Ironically, there was a sitcom called Out of This World that premiered around the same time as the game.
  • Master of Unlocking: Buddy is apparently quite good at lock picking, as he jimmies the doors open during the level two prison break using...nothing, apparently? This might go a long way toward explaining why he's in prison in the first place.
  • Muzzle Flashlight: After Lester cut some power to the lights, he can now run across the previously lighted area with the lasers shooting from below barely missing him and lighting the now dark area.
  • Nintendo Hard:
    • To put in perspective: the iOS version now has an Achievement for dying 100 times. Even on the easiest difficulty level, most players can expect to see it long before beating the game. However, it does have two major things making it more forgiving than other Nintendo Hard games of the era: Savepoints are extremely common, and you have unlimited lives. You die a lot, but rarely lose much progress when you do.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: In the finale, Lester loses his gun and is pummeled senseless by a red-eyed alien. Buddy comes to the rescue, and the two grapple while Lester painfully crawl across the screen and activate the laser, fragging the doppelganger.
  • No Biochemical Barriers: Poisonous slugs can kill Lester instantly.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Lester is as vulnerable as a newborn on this hostile world. Anything from aliens shooting lasers, rocks falling, even leeches, will kill him instantly on contact. To be fair, most of the things that kill Lester in the game would most likely instantly kill a real human as well, including the poisonous leeches. The aliens also die just as easily to a single laser blast from your stolen gun.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Lester can't talk to any of the aliens and as such doesn't even know his alien buddy's name. As such, he's commonly referred to simply as Buddy.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: In the ending cinematic.
  • Oxygen Meter: Not explicitly shown as the game has no HUD, but as Lester spends time in the water, he releases more and more air bubbles. When the bubbles start getting out more frequently, you'd better be close to the surface.
  • Press Start to Game Over: See Naughty Tentacles above.
  • Ray Gun
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Beast.
  • Redheaded Hero
  • Rotoscoping
  • Scenery Porn
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The game's ambiguous ending can be interpreted this way, although storyboards for a non-produced ending depict the character surviving and becoming a leader in the alien world. The sequel has him survive, only to be Killed Off for Real in a Heroic Sacrifice halfway through the game.
  • Silence Is Golden: This game shows a lot, and almost never tells.
  • Spiritual Successor: Flashback (made without Chahi's involvement), Heart of Darkness (a later effort by Chahi).
  • Stripped to the Bone: The alien laser guns instantly reduce anyone they hit to a charred skeleton.
  • Take My Hand: Subverted. In the game's final sequence, Buddy rescues Lester from a plunge off of a ledge. Then smashes Lester against the wall, crippling him! Turns out, that's not Buddy! Damn aliens, You All Look Familiar!
  • Trapped in Another World: The title. Depending on where you lived in the '90s, it could also be Trapped in Out of This World, or Trapped in an Outer World.
  • Trial and Error Gameplay: Many of the game's deathtraps are virtually impossible to anticipate without prior knowledge, and in many cases you'll keep dying until you figure out EXACTLY what the game wants you to do and where and when it wants you to do it, common sense be damned.
  • Unwinnable by Design: Forget to shoot out the pit wall before flooding the caves? You're fucked. Fail to shoot the lamp chain blocking Buddy in the crawlspace? You're also fucked. If Buddy dies, you're also screwed. There are several other possible unwinnable situations, and yes, the game actually has passwords for them, which rates the game as Evil on the extended cruelty scale.
    • The iOS version remedies this: if you have failed to do something that is necessary to complete the game, you will not activate the next checkpoint.
  • Updated Rerelease: First as a port to DOS/Mac from Amiga which added a new level, then the 3DO version has a different art style (besides the character models), and of course the 15th Anniversary edition which is based on the PC version and has more detailed backgrounds and runs in high-res.
    • Followed by the 20th Anniversary version, which contains both the original and remastered visuals, two new difficulty levels, a level select instead of a password feature, and depending on your version, comes with achievements/trophies and a touch control option.
  • Videogame Set Piece: Many of them, including:
    • The specific places in the game where your ally does something to rescue you;
    • Special actions that you can perform at one specific place only, such as swinging the cage to make it fall, the Groin Attack you use on an enemy at one point, and pulling the lever at the end of the game.
    • Special environmental features that show up only once each, such as the floor that grenades can destroy, the bat that the tentacle monster will eat, the vine that you can swing from, the glass globe that you must drop on an enemy, and the aforementioned lamp chain.
  • "What Now?" Ending: Lester and Buddy escape, but Lester is badly hurt and it's not clear what awaits them beyond the city or if Lester will ever get home. Worse, some interpreted the ending to mean that Lester had actually died mere yards from freedom, although Word of God and the eventual sequel countermand this.
  • You All Look Familiar: The aliens are identical except for occasional helmets or topknots. Buddy can be differentiated from the others only because he's unarmed.
  • You All Meet in a Cell
  1. Coincidentally, a syndicated Fantastic Comedy titled Out of This World started airing the same time the game was released.