Another World, known as Out of This World in North America, is a 1991 cinematic platformer designed and developed by Eric Chahi. The graphics and box art were designed by Chahi, while the music was composed by Jean-François Freitas.
Selling around 1 million copies in the 1990s, Another World was innovative in its use of cinematic effects in the graphics, sound and cut scenes, with characters communicating through their facial features, gestures, and actions only. This cinematic style granted Another World cult status amongst critics and fans. Eurogamer called it "one of the most visionary and memorable games of its time."
Originally developed on an Amiga 500 for the Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, Apple IIGS and MS-DOS platforms, the game was widely ported to other contemporary systems. Later efforts resulted in several game engine recreations for the game that permitted it to run on modern computers, consoles and mobile phones.
In 2006, Chahi independently released a 15th Anniversary Edition for Windows which allowed the game to be played on modern computers with original or enhanced visuals.
A sequel, Heart of the Alien, was only released for the Mega CD.
The protagonist of the game is Lester Knight Chaykin, a young, athletic, ginger physicist. Lester arrives at his high-tech underground laboratory in his Ferrari during a thunderstorm, and continues to work on his experiment using a particle accelerator. Right before the particles reach their intended destination, lightning strikes the laboratory and interferes with the accelerator, causing the unforeseen teleportation of Lester to a barren, alien planet.
After evading a number of dangerous indigenous animals, Lester is enslaved by a race of humanoid aliens and taken to a subterranean mine/prison system. With the help of a captive alien, Lester tries to escape, and must continue to evade capture whilst travelling through dangerous environments, battling wild creatures and solving numerous puzzles to survive natural hazards.
In the end, Lester is severely wounded by a guard, but manages to save his alien friend from death. His friend picks up the weak Lester and they escape on a giant pterodactyl-like creature, flying off to the horizon.
The player can control Lester using the keyboard or gamepad using four directional buttons and one or two action buttons, depending on the platform — one for main actions and running, and one for jumping. Depending on the player's current position, movement, and status, the main action key performs a variety of actions, including attacking and interacting with Lester's environment.
At the start of the game Lester can only kick to attack, but later he can acquire a gun. The gun acts as main weapon throughout the game for both the player as well as most enemies. The gun has three distinct modes, which can be reached by holding the fire button down and thus charging it. The first mode is a normal laser beam that instantly vaporizes flesh, leaving only the skeleton, which eventually crumbles into ashes (At certain points, this can also happen to Lester (Death), his alien friend, and a beast.) The second mode generates a shield that provides temporary protection against enemy laser beams. The third mode produces a powerful blast that can break shields and certain walls.
Since a single hit kills both Lester and enemies, the game requires the player to make use of all three gun modes, to take cover, as well as break enemy cover and thus survive. While the movement keys normally make Lester run, the game also features sections where he must swim, roll, or drive a vehicle. The player has unlimited lives; there are multiple checkpoints, reloaded by entering the relevant pass code given at each one.
The game features little to no text after the main title. The player is guided only by diagrams, gestures, and sounds.
In August 1989, Chahi was impressed by the flat-color animations that the Amiga version of Dragon's Lair had and thought that it would be possible to use vector outlines to create a similar effect using much less computer storage. (The Amiga Dragon's Lair game used eight floppy disks.) He wrote a polygon routine in Motorola 68000 assembly language on an Atari ST to test his theory, with much success. He planned on creating a science fiction game that was similar to Karateka and Impossible Mission. While he had a clear idea of how to implement his game engine, he mostly improvised when creating the actual content of the game.
He finished the game's introduction sequence in early 1990 and started working on the first level. Because he wanted to create a dramatic, cinematic experience, the game has no HUD or dialog, giving the player only a representation of the surrounding game world during both gameplay elements and the cut scenes progressing the story. The game was finished two years later in 1991, which inspired the game's tagline: "It took six days to create the Earth. Another World took two years".
Some original storyboards, drawn up during the game's initial development, reveal an unmade ending where Lester ends up as the new leader of the alien world. The storyboards can be viewed on the game's official site.
Chahi used an Amiga 500 to create the final game, using Devpac Assembler to program the game engine and polygon outlines and GFA BASIC to create the game's editor. Using a genlock, he imported recordings of himself from a video camera to use for rotoscoping animations. He used a tape recorder to record the sound effects for the game. Background art was sketched with Deluxe Paint before being recreated as vector graphics with the game's editor. The game is the first 2D game to use polygons for all of its graphics, as opposed to the more common sprites, which created a distinctive visual style. It took advantage of the computer hardware at that time to display full-screen animation (Amiga 500 and Atari ST were 68000 based, PC AT machines would have been 80286).
The game was originally released for the Amiga in 1991, running at a display resolution of 320x200 pixels. This version received less play-testing than other versions, making for a less-fluid game, but the Amiga's sound capabilities afford it a high sound quality comparing to contemporary ports. The game was then released on the Atari ST, but hardware limitations gave it less refined graphics and sound. These versions had code wheel protection that made it difficult to use unauthorized copies, forcing the player to enter a code (Series of figures) looked up from a code wheel that came with the game. The player had to turn the wheel according to the number that was requested in the screen whenever the game is loaded or he/she would have to re-load the game. Another small change between the Amiga and ST versions and the others was that Lester would yell as he grabs the vine in the first area if he wasn't being chased by the beast in these versions. This feature was omitted from most other versions.
The game was released in North America under the title Out of this World in order to avoid confusion with the popular but unrelated soap opera Another World. Coincidentally, the science fiction sitcom Out of This World aired at the same time of the game's USA/Canada release.
Reviews praised the game's graphics, sound, and gameplay, but criticized its brevity. Chahi responded with a new level just before the arena when the alien friend rescues Lester at the end of a long dead-end corridor. Also added were more dangers, which were a guard in the prison at the bottom of the lift, more lethal steam jets added in the maze-like ventilation system, and two enemies on the bottom of the pool in the power circuit area. This ended up being the 1992 MS-DOS version, which was coded by Daniel Morais, and had the exact code wheel protection of the Amiga and ST versions. The Macintosh version programmed by "Burger" Bill Heineman features higher resolution than the MS-DOS version, but is otherwise identical.
Through Interplay, the game was ported to the SNES, the Sega Mega Drive, and the Apple IIGS in 1992. The Super Nintendo and Apple IIGS ports were also programmed by "Burger" Bill Heineman and were unique in that they both used changing background musical scores throughout the game, adding a very cinematic feel to specific scenes. This differed from other ports which only had music for the opening and ending. Interplay wanted to add additional tunes by Charles Deenen. They also wanted to exchange Jean-François Freitas's music for a different soundtrack, but Chahi did not agree to the change. It was Delphine's lawyer who helped the original intro music be kept. Nintendo then requested that all scenes that feature blood, or any blood-like thing, such as the venus flytrap saliva, as well as a brief nudity scene, be redrawn. Of interest is the fact that Out of This World was the only game directly ported from the Super Nintendo over to the Apple IIGS, which shared the same 65C816 microprocessor.
The 3DO port was developed by Interplay in 1993, and features very detailed backgrounds. However, Chahi believes that this actually detracts from the game because the polygons don't fit in with this, and thus make the backgrounds look flat. The game's soundtrack was changed again, albeit without any legal troubles, due to Chahi's focus on Heart of Darkness. Some new tunes were also added, such as when Lester escapes the big pool in the first level and when he is grabbed by the guard that appears at the end. These tunes are all played from the disc. At the ending was a fragment of Heart of the Alien's intro.
The Super Nintendo, Genesis, 3DO and Apple IIGS ports each contain a prologue before the introduction begins, which consists of an entry that comes from Lester's diary. The Genesis port's prologue was different from that of the SNES and 3DO ports.
The 1994 Sega Mega-CD game Heart of the Alien, which is the game's lesser-known sequel, also has Another World included with it. This port includes an CD-audio soundtrack that was composed by Jean-François. There is a minor glitch where certain parts of the underground caverns appear flooded even when they are not.
Chahi acquired the rights to Another World's intellectual property from Delphine after they closed down in July 2004. Magic Productions then offered to port the game to mobile phones, and it was ported with help from Cyril Cogordan. Chahi saw that the game's playability could be improved, so he used his old Amiga for reprogramming certain parts of the script. He made the graphics' shading clearer in order to counter mobile phones' low resolutions. In July 2005, almost a decade and a half after it was first released on the Amiga, the game was released for mobile phone handsets using the Symbian operating system, thanks to Telcogames and developer Magic Productions. The mobile phone version is currently distributed to mobile operators (notably via Handango) by Telcogames. Magic Productions also released a Pocket PC version for Windows Mobile 5 OS or higher in QVGA (320x240 resolution).
15th Anniversary re-release
After the release of the Pocket PC version, in 2006 Chahi created a new Windows version that was targeted at Windows XP. Emmanuel Rivoire increased the resolution to 1280x800 pixels and Chahi created more detailed backgrounds. He found that his original choice to use polygons for the game characters enabled him to use the original character art at a higher resolution. The game still supports the original 320x200 resolution, as well as the original background art (as an option), and it features twice as many checkpoints as the original, which makes it somewhat easier. The game does not include Interplay's extra music, but it does include the extra level, as well as the added enemies and hazards from the console versions along with updated sound quality. This version is known as the Collector's Edition and regarded by Chahi as the ultimate version of the game.
This version is also part of the Another World 15th Anniversary Edition CD-ROM released in 2007, which also included a development diary, a technical handbook, a manual and an 18-minute video with interviews of the designers Eric Chahi and Jean-François Freitas talking about the development of the game. The 15th Anniversary Edition was planned to feature an audio CD with the exclusive soundtracks of Another World by Jean-François Freitas; however, a separate CD is not present in 2007 prints of the Anniversary Edition, which instead offers the soundtrack in form of MP3, Ogg Vorbis and WAV audio files.
Unfortunately, the digital rights management on the 15th Anniversary Edition CD-ROM is particularly draconian — upon installation, the game verifies the user's serial number through the Internet, allowing only for five installations of the game using any given serial number. Uninstallation doesn't reset the count, so after five installations, no matter the circumstance, one must purchase a new copy. It is worthy of note that this problem doesn't exist on the digital copy sold by Good Old Games.
- In 1995, a Windows 3.x version was released, which was ported by Alexander Okrug. This version includes MIDI renditions of the intro and ending music.
- In 2004 Cyril Cogordan, or Foxy, released an unofficial Game Boy Advance port by reverse engineering the Atari ST version. This version's C code eventually led to a Symbian mobile port. Originally Chahi was against the port, but in 2005 he decided to authorize its distribution. Around the same time, another unofficial GBA source port was made by Gil Megidish. This port was based on the 3DO version, and required the original 3DO CD to run so that only those who already owned the game would be able to play it. An unofficial GP32 port was made by Philippe Simons using reverse engineering by Grégory Montoir. The port won a prize during the GBAX 2005 competition.
- The game was released as freeware for play on the Game Boy Advance on April 28, 2005 via a game engine recreation by FoxySofts. It has also been released as freeware for play on the GP32 on May 31, 2005 and the Dreamcast on December 31, 2005, via a game engine recreation by Gregory Montoir (cyx) entitled raw (Rewritten engine for Another World). On December 2, 2006, the game engine was ported to the PalmOS Tapwave Zodiac, although the emulator requires original files to be playable.
- An unofficial port was developed for the Atari 8-bit line of computers (Atari 400/800, XL, XE) by a Polish programmer known as Robert Drag. However, it seems to be only a demo version, as when the player breaks out of the cage at the beginning of the second level, the guard is not killed and there is no way to complete the scene.
Eric Chahi has stated that he wishes the game to have no sequels as he wants the ending to the original to remain ambiguous so that fans could make their own conclusion to the franchise. Despite this, a sequel entitled Heart of the Alien was released for the Sega CD in 1994. The game is similar in graphics and gameplay. The player plays as the alien, who is nicknamed Buddy. It is commonly mistaken as taking place in the middle of Another World's story, probably due to the presence of trichromatic flashbacks in the game's introduction, which show the events of Another during portions where Buddy and Lester were separated, all from Buddy's view. Chahi had nothing to do with the development of the game, beyond suggesting Lester's death, but has since regretted that decision stating that he did not like it because it made a definite conclusion to the story, which he had deliberately left open-ended. He also suggested the game to be a parallel to Another World.
The 1992 game Flashback, which is also from Delphine, is often mistaken as a sequel to Another World because of similar gameplay and graphics. It has nothing to do with Another World, except for the said graphics and gameplay. It was also made without the involvement of Chahi. Flashback does seem to make a few direct references to Another World, including the prominent use of personal force fields in combat, a nearly identical end text in the ending cutscene, and an almost exact motion recreation of the gun pickup cutscene.
Chahi returned to the concept after leaving Delphine. In 1998, he and his new company Amazing Studio made Heart of Darkness, which is in many ways very similar in spirit to Another World, although it, too, has a different storyline.
Eric Chahi disappeared from the game industry for some years, but has recently regained interest in making games. He attended the Game Developer's Conference in 2005. Despite criticizing the games industry for no longer supporting much creativity, Eric Chahi says he is "still very excited" to start working on an entirely new game.
- In an issue of Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine, Japanese game designer Fumito Ueda cited Another World as an influence for his creation of Ico for the PlayStation 2.
- In an article in the Japanese-language Yomiuri Newspaper, game developer Hideo Kojima stated that Another World is one of the five games of all time that has had an influence on him.
- The 1997 Amiga game OnEscapee, while not connected to either Another World or Flashback, features similar gameplay and graphics. OnEscapee won "Game of the Year 1997 - Amiga Flame", "Game of the Year 1997 - Amiga Max" and "1997 CU Superstar - CU Amiga".
- The Parisian company which produced and distributed Another World, Delphine Software, has since gone into administrative receivership. Another World remains one of their most recognized games.
- Goichi Suda, creator of Killer7 and No More Heroes, cites Another World as his favourite game.
Out of This World was reviewed in 1992 in Dragon #184 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 5 out of 5 stars.
- Genesis. Another World. Retrieved on 2008-08-29
- Eric Chahi Interview in Micro Kid's (1992).
- Realisation. Another World. Retrieved on 2008-08-29
- Versions. Another World. Retrieved on 2008-08-29
- Atari - Another World. Atarimania.com. Retrieved on 2008-08-29
- More GDC. GameDev blog (2005-03-11). Retrieved on 2008-08-29
- Electronic Gaming Monthly's Buyer's Guide. 1993.
- Lesser, Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk (August 1992). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (184): 57–64.
- Another World homepage
- 'Out of this World' at MobyGames
- Eric Chahi at MobyGames
- Another World Complete Video Play-through at RecordedAmigaGames
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