As someone who owns a Game Boy Advance, I see my share of platform titles. Some of them call themselves action games, others call themselves adventure games. Still, there are titles that persist in trying to trick me that there is something new and innovative to their 2D, pseudo 3D or full 3D approach. Actually, I still haven't seen a full 3D platform game on the Game Boy Advance, but I have seen some on other handhelds and as the old adage goes, graphics don't save gameplay. Gameplay saves graphics.
Munch's Oddysee is based on the same Xbox debut title that came out during 2001. That game was probably more of the graphics trying to save the gameplay. Of course, in the end, even with the publicity of Microsoft stealing the fire of a PlayStation title to its console, Munch's Oddysee probably didn't end up being the big time seller that everyone had hoped it would be. Bungie's little title called Halo took that spotlight, but Munch's Oddysee was a game worthy of a second look.
The way Oddworld games work, as I am discovering out myself is this: you're given a scenario that you need to solve. But it doesn't have to be solved linearly or through the same means. As Abe, you can liberate and recruit other Mudokons to help you out. It's more convenient to take on the aggressive Glukkons with a bunch of your fellow brethren than by yourself. You can collect fruits and even upgrade your Mudokons. As Munch, you're able to squirrel in and around tunnels and tight places that Abe can't get to. It also helps that Munch is able to swim and appears to be able to breathe better under water than Abe.
The puzzles themselves involve walking back and forth your 'scenario'. Munch's Oddysee enables you to switch between characters at any time. So usually for any one obstacle, you'll need both characters to operate in tandem. I liked that kind of design but it often boiled down to Munch crawling on another level (filled with water) to hit buttons and switches so that Abe could continue his journey.
Without any speech parts or significant written dialogue, the chemistry between Abe and Munch is as sophisticated as that. Unlike the Xbox or
Playstation versions, you don't get to truly appreciate the bond that Abe and Munch are supposed to share. Oddworld, as the name implies, is supposed to be a world of parodies. The Glukkons, for example, are modeled after corporatist humans. Many of the jokes that were in the other games aren't found here because there's not outlet for expression.
That takes away a lot of the character that Oddworld titles are supposed to possess. It also makes the resulting product a little tame. Munch's Oddysee had to trade away its 3D graphics and become a 2D title. If the Xbox version was a graphics trying to save gameplay product, expectations shouldn't be high that the 2D makeover will save a mum Munch's Oddysee.
The one thing that Oddworld fans will admit is the fact that it's been a long time since an Oddworld game came out. Unfortunately, in so many categories, Munch's Oddysee takes a decided step backwards. If you really want to experience Oddworld in all of its quirky humor, the Xbox version is recommended and even then, it is not highly regarded as the shining hour for Oddworld. This edition is uninspired, taking all the good parts of Munch's Oddysee away and leaving the rest of the package to fend for itself.