Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee – Compatibility

Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee Title Screen

Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee Title Screen

System Requirements

Operating System: Windows 95
Processor: Pentium 166MHz
Memory: 16MB RAM
Optical Drive: 4x CD-ROM
Video: SVGA 16-bit compatible graphics card
Sound: Sound Blaster compatible sound card

Windows 10

  • Installs – Yes
  • Runs – Yes
  • Uninstalls – Kind of. Creates an Uninst.isu file for uninstallation via the Windows operating system that works with varied success. Files are copied to “C:\Program Files (x86)\Abe’s Oddysee\”. If you delete this directory and the shortcuts in the start menu, you will have uninstalled the game.

Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee – Windows 95 Game First Impressions

Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee Title Screen

Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee Title Screen

Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee is a cinematic platformer developed by Oddworld Inhabitants and Digital Dialect and published by GT Interactive for the PC in 1997. This is one of the games I got excited about and played nearly right when it first came out. I put a lot of time in on this game back in my middle school days, and it’s been a treat to play it again after so long.

Abe's wanted for his meat. Help him escape.

Abe’s wanted for his meat. Help him escape.

A friend of mine informed me that GOG.com is currently handing out free copies of the original Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee to promote the newer remake Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty! that came out in 2014. At the time this article was published, there were several more hours left on the GOG.com promotion, so go to their site to see if you can pick up a free copy for yourself. If you have the original disc, it does work natively in Windows 10, but the GOG copy is DRM free and will run without the original CD-ROM.

"We used to make Meech Munchies, till the Meeches were through."

“We used to make Meech Munchies, till the Meeches were through.”

Having run both versions, I found it interesting that the cutscenes in Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee are manufactured to run off of a slower CD-ROM drive and as a result a lower frame rate. I thought I would get a significant boost in cutscene frame rates by running the GOG version, but it appears the development team realizing the limitations of running cinematic high-resolution video off of a 4x CD-ROM drive opted instead to simply display a dark slide show with fade-out effects and sound superimposed. The result is a cutscene of superb graphics and sound quality for the time that you can’t understand why your computer can’t handle to make it less choppy 20 years later.

Chanting a Mudokon to freedom.

Chanting a Mudokon to freedom.

In the game’s first cutscene the player meets Abe, the lovable Mudokon protagonist, who narrates the story and around whom the story is based. While working late one night at Rupture Farms, a meat processing facility, he pokes his head into a corporate board meeting to satisfy his curiosity. The player learns from Abe’s narration that Rupture Farms had been harvesting the ingredients of their products to extinction and are running low on sources of revenue. Their solution to get profits back up was to make Abe and his fellow Mudokons into a new snack on their product line. When Abe hears the news, he is understandably frightened and works to make his escape.

Scoreboards are spaced throughout the game to show you how you're doing.

Scoreboards are spaced throughout the game to show you how you’re doing.

The objective of Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee then is to help Abe and as many of his fellow Mudokons escape Rupture Farms. The first level provides a tutorial for the player to help them learn how the game is played. Following the tutorial’s instructions to the letter will not give the player a perfect score in the beginning level, however. The player is scored positively by how many Mudokons Abe is able to free from Rupture Farms. The player is scored negatively for each Mudokon Abe kills throughout the game. This final score will determine Abe’s fate at the end of the game. Abe has the ability to chant to possess Sligs, the guards that keep the Mudokons captive, and to open portals to send fellow Mudokons home to safety. The tutorial goes over all of these mechanics, but if you want to play a perfect game, it is best to study the controls prior to beginning the game.

Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee Game Disc

Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee Game Disc

While Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee is a cinematic platformer, more emphasis is placed on puzzle solving than jumping and action. Many situations will call for quick action, but each time the player screws up resulting in death, they are respawned back to the safest location at the beginning of the immediate puzzle area. The game is very much like the classics Flashback: The Quest for Identity or Another World both by Delphine Software. The graphics and sound are impressive for the time it was released, and while the game can be quite challenging and frustrating, there is a intense satisfaction from figuring out how to solve the immediate puzzle and moving on to the next screen. The game can be saved on any screen, so once you have gotten past a difficult spot, save early and save often. Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee is one of the gems of the late 90s. If you’re reading this on the day I published this article, head over to GOG and pick up a free copy of this game for yourself.

3D Ultra Pinball: The Lost Continent – Compatibility

3D Ultra Pinball: The Lost Continent

3D Ultra Pinball: The Lost Continent

Windows 10

  • Installs – Yes
  • Runs – Yes
  • Uninstalls – No, not automatically.
  • Requires CD-ROM to play.

Surprisingly, this game from 1997 installs and runs nearly flawlessly for me in Windows 10. There is some flicker or transparent artifact that can be seen surrounding the border of the video cut scenes, but the cut scene itself is unaffected and so is game play. This game requires the CD-ROM to play, even when installing the full game to the hard disk. Its consistent polling of the CD-ROM drive can cause the game to lag slightly. You will want to reconfigure the controls prior to playing this game since the default controls will trigger a “Sticky Keys” dialog to appear in Windows 10. The Sierra provided uninstaller program does not seem to work correctly in Windows 10.

3D Ultra Pinball: The Lost Continent – Computer Game First Impressions

3D Ultra Pinball: The Lost Continent Title Screen

Title Screen

It has probably been years since I last played a pinball game, let alone one on a computer. The last time was probably when I played Space Cadet Pinball as a pack-in game for Windows XP. Its 2D visuals were nice and crisp. Its sounds were sharp and futuristic. And it was fun. Computer pinball games in general have always been fun for me. The first computer pinball game I recall playing was Crystal Caliburn by Little Wing for Windows 3.x. Even though it came out in 1993, its sharp higher resolution bitmap artwork kept me enthralled with its medieval theme. I would play for hours as a grade school student when I should have been doing my homework.

For those who don’t know what pinball is, I’ll have to write a later article to do the subject justice. It should suffice currently to just imagine that there is a ball, falling down at an incline, and that the player can push it back up using one of two paddles on either side of a hole in the middle. If the ball falls into the hole too many times, the game ends. The object is to keep the ball up in the air and score points by knocking the ball into objects within the inclined playing field.

Jewel Case Art

Jewel Case Art

While working my way through my game collection, looking for games that will run natively in Windows 10, I found 3D Ultra Pinball: The Lost Continent. It is the second in a series of pinball games created by Dynamix and published by Sierra in 1997. While I was impressed with how well the game runs on Windows 10, what is most impressive about this game is how cheezy it is.

CD-ROM Art

CD-ROM Art

The game’s plot appears to be that a passenger plane is damaged in a lightning storm and crash-lands on a deserted island filled with dinosaurs and a mad scientist. In the beginning cut scene, as the plane is going down, you can see the pinball playing field on the island. It looks like the plane actually crash-landed into a pinball table. The intro cut scene looks like something designed by my high school buddies using Microsoft Movie Maker. It was 1997 and Movie Maker did not come out until 2000. You can decide if I should cut them more slack. It looks like they had fun making this game what it is, and honestly its most redeeming quality is that it does not seem to take itself too seriously.

Pinball Table Lower Right

Pinball Table Lower Right

I can only imagine begging for my parents to buy me this game in the store when it was retailing upwards of 20 dollars and then getting it home and being incredibly disappointed. I got my copy for 3 dollars at Goodwill. That price was probably worth it just for the laughs I have gotten from watching the intro cut scene and listening to its terrible one-liners. I’m actually somewhat surprised that Sierra released this game at all.

While Sierra released some duds over the years, they generally kept the bar for their releases relatively high. A potentially little known fact about Sierra is that they provided a one hundred percent money-back satisfaction guarantee on all of their games, one that they stood behind. If for any reason you didn’t like the game, you could send it back within 30 days for a full refund. I wonder what percentage of these they received back after people complained demanding their money back.

T-Rex with Some Happy Little Trees

T-Rex with Some Happy Little Trees

The game play in my initial play-through was mediocre. Balls seemingly sometimes unfairly fall out of the play field immediately after being released. When this happens, the game would often toss me a free ball as if it knew it gave me a cheap shot. The free ball seems to come in at random though and blends in too much with all the dinosaurs moving across the screen. It’s hard to tell what the ball is doing when it’s doing it, or why I received certain points and bonuses. I read in another review that 3D Ultra Pinball: The Lost Continent has 16 pinball table levels. When I hit a game over, it allowed me to continue. Hypothetically, if the player were to have unlimited continues, there is nothing stopping them from playing all the way through the game provided they had the patience to do so. 3D Ultra Pinball: The Lost Continent can also be played by up to four players, so play with people you hope to bore that you don’t want coming to see you very often.

Multiball!!!

Multiball!!!

Apparently Windows 10 retained another pinball buzzkill I remembered from my Windows XP days. Whenever you press the shift key too many times in a row, a dialog box pops up asking if you would like to turn on Sticky Keys in Windows. Of course the shift key is a standard paddle key for most computer pinball games. It sure would have been nice if Microsoft had provided a checkbox on their dialog that said something on the order of, “Don’t display this dialog again.” Control keys can be configured in 3D Ultra Pinball: The Lost Continent and game pads can also be enabled, but when all you have is a keyboard, using the shift key just feels natural.

Reconfigure Controls to Avoid this in Windows 10

Reconfigure Controls to Avoid this in Windows 10

Another frustration I have with 3D Ultra Pinball: The Lost Continent is the way it continuously checks the CD-ROM drive for the disc during play. This is a game from 1997, and yet it is lagging on my computer from 2017 because it’s continuously polling the CD-ROM drive even after I chose the option to install the entire game to the hard disk. I figure this is some form of late nineties DRM. Someone at Sierra had a lot of pride in believing anyone would want to make pirated copies of this game.

T-Rex says, "Hi Guys!".

T-Rex says, “Hi Guys!”

3D Ultra Pinball: The Lost Continent really does have a lot of charm. It’s worth installing and loading just to see the cut scenes if obtained at a reasonable price. As far as pinball games though, this just isn’t as fun as a lot of pinball titles that I recall playing prior to its release and pinball games that came after it hit the bargain bin and was largely forgotten.