The Oddworld games are as beloved to PlayStation fans as MediEvil, Tomb Raider, and for some, even Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon. The bizarre adventures are certainly proof positive that PlayStation is home to an immensely diverse portfolio, but what's so great about Abe is that he still manages to stand out today. New 'n' Tasty released on the PlayStation 4 in 2014, and ever since Just Add Water has been tweaking the modernised remake for Sony's "legacy" handheld, the PlayStation Vita. How does it fare on the portable platform and, most importantly, what do you need to press to make him trump?
The controls have been reworked and condensed a little to compensate for the Vita's fewer buttons, and luckily it works just as well as with a DualShock 4. The home console version of the game was patched a few months after launch to include some "old school" control options, namely to require you to hold L2 to run and switch from a vertical jump to a horizontal one. These are set as default on the Vita version, with a tap of X launching Abe forward rather than up. The shoulder buttons differ on the Vita release, too – holding L is your sneak mode, and you need to hold R to run. Access to the alternative Gamespeak commands is now on Triangle rather than R2, so a bout of hilarious flatulence is just as simple to pull off.
The changes to the controls may be simple, but make for an impressively intuitive time on the Vita, and it only took us a few seconds to adjust to the differences. Where the controls come across rather well, however, the game's performance suffers slightly from the downgrade in hardware, with load times giving the most cause for concern; travailing from one area to the next takes much longer than on PS4. The frame rate also dips fairly frequently, which can hamper your timing when trying to manoeuvre through tricky platforming areas. We also encountered a glitch when travelling to a lower section of Rupture Farms; after the loading screen, Abe disappeared, screaming as if falling from a cliff, and then upon a restart, the game completely locked up, forcing us to reset.
To be fair, we only encountered this once during our playthrough, and the frame rate dips aren't nearly bad enough to make the experience unplayable. New 'n' Tasty is still great fun, and considering the visual fidelity on display, it's easy to forgive any technical hitches. Oddworld is a strangely beautiful and alien place to explore, with wonderfully animated creatures and characters and detailed backdrops giving you a real sense of place. This is reinforced by the atmospheric sounds and music, which accompany the aesthetics perfectly.
Other than these differences in looks and controls, however, this is still the full, and brilliant, New 'n' Tasty you remember from 2014, just slightly scaled down to fit in your pocket. Taking Abe on his first journey, rescuing his fellow Mudokons from a deliciously dark fate, possessing Sligs and killing them in hilarious fashion, navigating the challenging, puzzle-like environments – everything that makes Abe's Oddysee such a classic is preserved and it remains a charming, thoughtful, and utterly unique game. Only now, you get to play it on the train, or the lavatory – and with cross-save and cross-buy, there's no reason not to.
The Vita version of Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty is an impressive port of the remake, with some small but effective tweaks to the controls making for a great alternate way to play. If you own the game on the PS4, the cross-buy and cross-save features will mean that you can pick up right where you left off. Longer loading times and the occasional technical hiccup are the only downsides, but they are minor, and don't harm what is a fun, challenging experience that you won't forget in a hurry.