Go Out of this World with Retronauts Pocket Episode 17

Retronauts 17 Pocket cover

Bob here — Growing up with games, Eric Chahi’s Out of this World (or Another World for our non-American listeners) existed as this idiosyncratic, enigmatic experience that came off as more than a little intimidating for how it didn’t play by “the rules.” And more than 20 years after its release, Chahi’s extremely influential work remains just as strange and captivating as it was in 1992 — so I guess you can’t blame the guy for his perpetual efforts to make Another World available to modern audiences. That said, this unassuming, 30-minute adventure about a red-haired dork with a ray gun had an immeasurable impact on the world of gaming, and in this episode, we go over the typical running time of Retronauts Pocket to gush about Another World and the many ways it influenced design and narrative since its release. Joining us for this one is Duckfeed.tv’s Gary Butterfield, who runs the amazing retro games podcast Watch Out for Fireballs, which you’ll probably love if you’re a fan of Retronauts. And if you’re not a fan of us, I can only question why you’ve read this far.

Libsyn (42:02 | MP3 | 38.5 MB) | SoundCloud

This episode’s description:

“Matsuba! Regardless of how you interpret this alien expression, Eric Chahi’s Out of this World (or Another World to our European friends) wowed its early-’90s audience with its enigmatic atmosphere and lack of respect for convention — which is probably why it remains so playable today. Join Bob Mackey, Ray Barnholt, Jeremy Parish, and Watch Out for Fireballs’ Gary Butterfield as the Retronauts travel to hostile, new worlds and befriend hulking (but pleasant) humanoids.”

Relevant Links:

The Making of Another World

The OTHER Another World

The OTHER Out of this World

The OTHER OTHER Out of this World (ALF’s)

Let’s Play Heart of the Alien

Let’s Play Heart of Darkness

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8 thoughts on “Go Out of this World with Retronauts Pocket Episode 17

  1. Wow…excellent timing. I actually started playing this game on the weekend, but got a little frustrated with the controls. I gave up and ended up watching a walkthrough on YouTube.

    Impressive storytelling here.

    • That was almost my exact experience with the game as well, only 20 or so years ago. I rented Out of This World for the SNES on a weekend when I was a kid, along with another game from the rental shop just up the street from my house. I don’t recall what the other game was offhand, but I remember picking up OOTW because I had seen an ad for it in some video game publication at the time and thinking it looked capital A Amazing.

      I got my two games home that Friday night, plugged in OOTW, and spent the next 20 minutes failing to figure out the very first little bit of the game. I don’t know why it didn’t click for me, but I just couldn’t get the hang of it. I think I died half a dozen times running from that monster, got frustrated, and plugged in whatever else I had rented. I ended up never playing Out of This World again, either that weekend or, well, ever. I’m sure I missed out on something really amazing, considering how passionate the conversation in this podcast is, but that initial foray into the game was just so seemingly hostile it ran me off before I could ever really get into it. I was usually more patient — or perhaps just more persistent — as a twelve-year old (or whatever I was at the time), but this one I just completely gave up on.

  2. Awesome episode, great discussion! So happy you tackled this wonderful game!

    Another World is up there as one of my top games of all time. And beyond just that, it’s also one of the most significant pieces of pop culture I’ve encountered in my life in terms of how deeply it affected me. As a 11-12 year old, seeing that incredibly fluid and cinematic car pull up by the lab, I was gobsmacked and then absolutely absorbed by Chahi’s haunting and poetic adventure. I can’t stress enough just how stunning those cinematics were and the incredible look of those landscapes with it’s restrained palette and bold shadows. It’s like german expressionism meets Caspar David Friedrich meets Moebius and French sci-fi comics. And that early set-up with that eerie beast stalking you in the background before disappearing. Holy cow. And later as you see Buddy moving in the foreground chased by laser blasts. There was nothing like it out there! Even as a young kid, I knew that this was something special and WAY beyond the usual Mario or Contra fare I was into. I’ve played it many times over in the decades since and Chahi’s melancholy world has never quite left me.

    Another World, like Ico and other spiritual successors, belong to that ultra rare breed of game that manage to operate as fine art. There’s lots of art and design that goes into the making of all titles for sure, but Another World as a game itself performs and functions like a fine art experience. It suggests and makes effective use of symbols, shadows and allegory. The feel is of a gloomy symbolist painting you interpret and expand in your head, almost like a Tarkovsky film in game form. Chahi as an auteur.

    Extraordinarily, he was merely 21-22 when he started working on the title, while suffering from loneliness and depression. During play you can’t help but feel like it’s a personal journey through the state of Chahi’s mind. Usually games that kills you repeatedly without warning are often frustrating, but here they make for an important part of the experience and the overall description of the world. The dark humor of Lester’s many brutal demises also seem to suggest a tinge of the self deprecation and bittersweet irony that can come with depression.

    I love it to death, it’s a mature piece of artwork and I wish this medium had much more to offer like it.

  3. I had this game on the Amiga and it routinely crushed my spirit in its rotoscoped fist. I always came back for more, though I don’t remember ever finishing it.

    I think I’ll throw up the white flag and watch a play-through instead of venturing back onto that alien planet again.

  4. Love this game. One of the few games worth owning the Sega CD for. Don’t really care if the sequel isn’t as good as the first as it had the the first game for free so you could play them back to back. I think as a teenager I really thought the violent deaths were cool. Now that it’s been done to death not so much. But hey it was the 90,s. I probably like the story that they had you control the Alien with a whip. But the gameplay wasn’t quite as good. I think the most frustrating part of these games was running through the caverns with the falling rocks. I remember countless times dying over and over getting the timing wrong on that part. Those parts where it required split second timing for such a slow moving game really made it frustrating. But I loved having to figure out how to use the laser gun effectively and make the most out of your shots.

  5. I was twelve. It was new years eve. My parents were gone away. My older brother had close to 100 people in the house. As the house disintegrated about me with the drunken dancing and fighting and vomiting, I played through Another world from start to finish. It took me about 5 hours I think, but for that time I was completely unaware of the throng of inebriated teens in the room.

  6. I never was able to follow the fans of this game into their world. Even back around ’92/’93 when I first played it, it struck me simply as the natural evolution of the storytelling techniquest of Prince of Persia, paired with the (godawful, IMO) gameplay sensibilities of Dragon’s Lair (incidentally, I also only knew the Amiga version of that one at the time, because I lived in a country where arcades didn’t exist). I’ve come back to it several times, but I was never able to like it, or even appreciate what it’s trying to do. Flashback got a bit of bad rap (including by Chahi, IIRC) for being too much of a Prince of Persia clone, but at least it was, you know, good.

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