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MCBanjoMike 08-03-2009 09:04 PM

Everybody loves rotoscoping: Let's Play Out of this World!
Out of this World

Let me tell you one thing: the late 80s and early 90s sure were a great time to be into computer games. Back when videogames had yet to be sorted into the 5 or 6 distinct genres that we see today, a lot of interesting hybrids and crossovers saw the light of VGA. Of the niche genres that rose and fell during this period, one of my favorites consists of those 2D action-adventure games that featured athletic characters using realistic physics to traverse a world. The selling point for me, then as now, was that these games generally had exceptional animation for their main characters. The best-known of these, the original Prince of Persia, actually stars Jordan Mechner's younger brother David as the titular prince - he was filmed running around in a white suit, and then rotoscoped into the game wholesale. The end result was a character who actually moved like a human being, and a game that proceeded at a somewhat more thoughtful pace than most action games of the day.

The other entertaining thing about this style of game was that they generally used the "humanness" of the main character to gain the player's sympathy by subjecting them to the most horrible deaths imaginable. For this reason, while there may be an official designation for this style of game somewhere out there, I've always thought of them as Rotoscopey Action Games in Which You Die Horribly. Some highpoints in the genre include the aforementioned Prince of Persia:

One of my personal favorites, Flashback:

And that venerable classic, Karateka.

Today, however, I won't be (let's) playing any of those. No folks, today is devoted to another game, a game that is the work of a single person. Eric Chahi, a French programmer and artist, is singlehandedly responsible for all the graphics, artwork, design and programming of the 1991 game Out of this World, the only outside contribution being the music. As we shall see, it is a vector-based 2D action game set in an eerie alternate universe that features a little bit of rotoscoping and a lot of gruesome deaths. But rather than tell you all about it, why not see for yourselves?

Let us begin.

You might think that this LP is off to a somewhat inauspicious start, since I've already managed to get the title of the game wrong at least three times. Thing is, this game was initially released in Europe under the name Another World. Unsurprisingly, North American audiences weren't too interested in taking soap opera characters on an interdimensional romp, so the game was rechristened Out of this World for its North American release. The version of the game that I am playing, however, is a GBA port that was authorized for free distrubtion by the author himself, so it bears the original name. That's right, it's free. Remember when you all bought GBA flash cards so you could play Mother 3? Now you can use them to play a game that's actually fun instead!

The scene: a decrepit looking building in a decrepit looking place, presumably somewhere in the American southwest. The perfect place to do some top secret research! A squeal of tires announces the arrival of a fancy black sports car:

A pale, redheaded figure wearing snappy tennis shoes emerges and enters the building. Since he's supposed to be a physicist and is, judging from his deathly pallor, probably scottish, we shall call him Angus MacLeod. Since his real name is Lester Knight Chaykin, I think this could be considered us doing him a pretty big favor.

Angus emerges from the elevator and creepily glides along the floor of the sub-basement. We haven't made it to the rotoscoping just yet.

MCBanjoMike 08-03-2009 09:05 PM

A complicated set of security tests prevents the casual junior physicist from wandering into the Big Boys' Lab.

This image tells me that, whatever else he is, Eric Chahi clearly is not a high-energy physicist. I'm not sure where he got the idea that they all drive Ferraris, but a reasearch stipend is more likely to pay for a '94 Volvo than this Testarossa.

Angus hunkers down at his ultra-futuristic monochrome computer terminal, situated directly in front of what appears to be the business end of a giant particle accelerator. I don't know who he got to design this place, but I hope he didn't pay him very much.

Here we can get some idea of what kind of experiments are being run here. As physicists are wont to do, Angus is accelerating charged particles to relativistic speeds and then smashing them into things, attempting to create new forms of matter in the process. It is theorized that experiments such as this could potentially discover a new form of matter that is more stable than what we currently live with, and that the transition to this newer form of matter could cause the end of the universe as we know it. Rest assured that this is very, very unlikely to happen, however. For the sake of reference, here's what a real synchrotron looks like!

While running another cycle of experiments, Angus pops open a tasty beverage - check out the sweet rotoscoping action on this one:

Am I the only one with Take on Me stuck in their head?

Ah, refreshing!

Above ground, things are getting a bit dicey. A nasty wind is picking up, lightning sparks between the clouds and...

Uh-oh, that can't be good.

A pulse of electricty goes charging down the path of the accelerator, following the packet of mysterious red things (note pictured) that Angus had previously sent down the tube. Wait a sec, what was at the end of that tunnel, again?

...oh right, Angus.

MCBanjoMike 08-03-2009 09:12 PM

Y'all right there buddy? Angus? Angus??

Oh look, it's a tranquil lake.

Tranquil, at least, until the sudden and violent materialization of a futuristic, monochrome workstation and its scrawny, Coke-snorting inhabitant. As Angus bids goodbye to several hundred thousand dollars of cutting edge computer equipment, curious tentacles rise up from the bottom of the lake to investigate the new arrivals. It looks like they want to play!

Oh. Well, that didn't work out so well. So, guys, what should Angus do from here? Put on your thinking caps and get us out of this lake!

nunix 08-03-2009 09:16 PM

He should.. he should swim? Let's try:

> swim up

Also: I've never finished this game, always got stuck when I rented it. Flashback is pretty great, though. I wish someone would do another of these games with some modern code, though, because I remember the cutscenes in particular being kinda sluggish.

mr_bungle700 08-03-2009 09:38 PM

Those cutscenes were mind blowing on the SNES though.

Also, swim, you polygonal fool! Swim like the wind!

Rai 08-03-2009 09:44 PM

Why does everyone assume tentacles are a bad thing? Clearly they just wish to discover and say hi to whoever fell into their pond. What's the worst that could happen by staying down there?

Violentvixen 08-03-2009 09:46 PM

I could never get anywhere in this game so I'm excited for this, and swim up! Kick! Desperately!

Adrenaline 08-03-2009 09:52 PM

Action Button Dot Net's best game of all time! I still need to really sit down and play this.

blitzchamp 08-04-2009 12:22 AM

MCBanjoMike: I was just looking at this game the other day on Wikipedia. How bizarre that now you're covering it in an LP!

McClain 08-04-2009 01:24 AM

Love this game, never got anywhere. Even with save states and an FAQ I didn't get half-way.

Any chance you could use some video in this? Random deaths are always more fun in motion! :)

Violet 08-04-2009 01:33 AM

>Inflate innertube
>Get power strip and beer
>Act out internet meme

I hated all these games, but they're nice to look at!

Octopus Prime 08-04-2009 02:12 AM

Kick those scrawny chicken-legs, you physicist hero!

Falselogic 08-04-2009 12:10 PM

You have to go up...

MCBanjoMike 08-04-2009 07:53 PM

Episode 2.1: A Whole New World

Originally Posted by Everyone
Swim up

That's so crazy, it just might work! Let's give it a try. Swim, Angus!

Swim with all your might!

Angus' tentacle friends are sad to see him go, but he's a busy guy with no time for tentacle parties.

Hauling himself up onto the safety of land, our hero slowly realizes that he isn't in New Mexico anymore. A bluish landscape of surreal rock formations and alien architecture surrounds him on all sides. Tired and confused, he decides to catch his breath by the side of the water.

This does not turn out to be a very good idea.

Oh dear.

It looks like it's time to start exploring Another World! I won't be leaving all of the decisions up to you folks, since that would probably make this take forever, but I'll be happy to field any requests that people make. Particularly those that end with our hero dying a horrible death. Together, we'll get our plucky young physicist out of this mess or die trying. Or, most probably, both!

Torgo 08-04-2009 10:03 PM

I can still remember when I first saw Out of this World running on a pc in the electronics section of Fred Meyer. I was completely blown away. I never got to play it, but I love Flashback dearly.

spineshark 08-04-2009 10:23 PM


Remember when you all bought GBA flash cards so you could play Mother 3? Now you can use them to play a game that's actually fun instead!
Oooh, it's hot!

I'm not sure whether I actually like this game or not,'s very interesting, which is certainly better than being not interesting. And I mean, it inspires both Suda 51 and Ueda so there's certainly something there.

For some reason I found the upcoming get stabbed by the slug death especially unsettling.

Action Button Dot Net's best game of all time! I still need to really sit down and play this.
Tim says he decided to write the entire manifesto so he could call this the best game of all time when he was playing it drunk one night with one of the other ABDN guys. I probably believe him.

Adrenaline 08-04-2009 10:34 PM

Haha, man I love that site.

MCBanjoMike 08-05-2009 07:35 PM

Episode 2.2: Nice Kitty
All right guys, stop talking about that awful website - we've got a game to play.

Since hangin' poolside doesn't seem to be such a hot idea, Angus decides to go exploring.

Off to the left we find a scenic cliff. Say, is that a Tarzan rope?


The rope takes us back to the pool, so we continue to the east.

The whole area seems to be suffering from some sort of unspecified geological instability, causing rocks to fall from the sky in a difficult-to-screencap kinda way. This side of the pool seems to be inhabited by some kind of blobby slug things, crawling across the floor and ceiling. They seem pretty harmless, so we'll just run by them. Live and let live, and all that.

Ah. Perhaps we should take a more Paul McCartney and Wings type of approach to this situation. Out of this World is a one-button game, so it doesn't take long for most players to discover that they can make Angus breakdance with a push of the B button. As it turns out, blobby slugs are allergic to urban dance:

Let's move on.

The next area is populated by a bunch more of our blobby pals. Angus dispatches them with ease.

All is quiet as we make our way to the east, where...

Uh, nice kitty?

Aaah! Bad kitty! Bad kitty!

MCBanjoMike 08-05-2009 07:47 PM

Let's book.

Run away!

Out of this World isn't always a very player-friendly game. To wit, if you didn't clear out all of the blob slugs in this screen on your first pass, you would most likely be killed trying to run through them on your way back.

Kitty makes a failed attempt to pounce on Angus, landing flat on her...face. No time for a breather, though, as she's back on her feet in short order. Looks like we'd better press on.

We pass the pool and come back to the cliff. Ordinarily that would be a pretty bad thing, but in steps our good friend the Tarzan rope.

See ya never, hairball!

Things are looking grim as Kitty doesn't want to give up the chase. Just as she's about to make a meal out of our favorite physicist, however...

Something knocks down Angus and blasts Kitty with a laser. We're saved!

Never one to turn down some free deus ex machina, Angus tries to make friends with his mysterious benefactor...

...but he doesn't seem to be the friendly type.

Hypothesis confirmed.

dangerhelvetica 08-05-2009 07:48 PM

Hello, previously repressed nightmare fuel!

Violentvixen 08-05-2009 09:57 PM

Well, you've already gotten further than I ever did. I don't think I ever made it back through the slugs, and wonder if using the vine would have occurred to me.

McClain 08-05-2009 10:19 PM


Originally Posted by criminallyinane (Post 533518)
Hello, previously repressed nightmare fuel!

I'm pretty sure these things have literally appeared in a nightmare of mine. Good times. Too bad that's about the only death I learned to avoid in this game.

nadia 08-05-2009 10:30 PM

Oh man, this game. I have to say, I love the soundtrack on the SNES version. Some people say the perpetual silence of the PC version makes the game spookier, but I disagree.

SpoonyGundam 08-05-2009 11:05 PM

I'd just like to say that this game is pretty much the scariest thing ever when you're five-six years old or so.

You go to some unknown location, and suddenly everything everywhere wants to kill you. Horribly!

Also, you've gotten exactly as far as I've ever gotten in the game.

nadia 08-05-2009 11:07 PM

I only finished OOTW because I rented it and someone had scribbled codes all over the instruction booklet.

In terms of atmosphere, it's really up there with gaming's best. It's not exactly a horror game, but yeah, being teleported to an unknown world where everything wants to kill you because you are food (or slave labour) is pretty friggin' scary.

Stiv 08-06-2009 05:00 AM

This game is one of my all-time favorites - I even finished it once. Be sure and push the wrong buttons in the tank!

Falselogic 08-06-2009 10:01 AM

I think you're already near the farthest point in the game I got to. So long ago though, I think I rescued the big white guy but I don't recall getting much farther than that.

McClain 08-06-2009 10:07 AM


Originally Posted by nadia (Post 533665)
Oh man, this game. I have to say, I love the soundtrack on the SNES version. Some people say the perpetual silence of the PC version makes the game spookier, but I disagree.

I like the SNES version best, but that's probably because that's what I played as a kid. I saw youtube clips of the computer and Genesis versions, and it just wasn't the same.

Falselogic 08-06-2009 10:27 AM

I only ever played the PC version... This game has music?

McClain 08-06-2009 10:35 AM

Oh shit! It looks like someone was trying to make a meme out of "Dies Like Lester Knight Chaykin"

Sonic gets the treatment.

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