"Well for one I'm a HUGE fan, and always have been, all the way back to 1997," said Stewart Gilray, managing director of Just Add Water. "Other members of the team are also fans, and as a company we all care deeply about the project, and will only sign off on it ourselves, when we are happy with it in every aspect."
Talking to Joystiq via email, Gilray explained that his company's collaboration with Oddworld Inhabitants started when he was introduced to series creator Lorne Lanning, during the 2009 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Hello. Follow me. Isn't that how all these deals happen?
"As I've said in the past the relationship is very symbiotic, whilst we are doing the work on it, we like to involve [Oddworld Inhabitants], so they can see progress, they can suggest things, we can ask their thoughts/opinions on stuff, it's very much a co-production in some respects," Gilray said. Oddworld Inhabitants will continue to retain all of its intellectual property while Just Add Water finalizes publishing arrangements. As JAW has an existing relationship with Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD may be co-published on PlayStation Network by Sony.
Stranger's Wrath launched on the original Xbox in January 2005, impressing critics with its weird Western premise, unique "live" ammo system and -- being an Oddworld game -- its twisted commentary on exploited natural resources. An Xbox Live Arcade update would be welcome, especially since the game will never find its way onto Microsoft's abandoned backwards compatibility list. Gilray deemed this a "trickier discussion" and avoided it, while explaining his reasoning for picking PlayStation 3 first. "Easy, Oddworld started on the PlayStation back in 1997, and this will be the first NEW title on that platform since Abe's Exoddus in 1998, so it's about time Oddworld had something NEW on PS."
An early trailer for Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath (before he got so angry).
Stranger's Wrath and Munch's Oddysee (considered the second canonical entry in the Oddworld Quintology) were both exclusive to Microsoft's Xbox -- and both games almost made it to PlayStation platforms. Munch's Oddysee was initially unveiled as a PlayStation 2 game, and an EA-developed PS2 port of Stranger's Wrath was announced but later cancelled.
But why start with Stranger's Wrath and not Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee, the game that first introduced us to Mudokons, Glukkons and Paramites? According to Gilray, the choice comes from practicality and prudence: Stranger's Wrath has "the biggest Metacritic score" (88, which ties it with Abe's Exoddus) and benefits from the "astounding technology" created by Oddworld Inhabitants between 2003 and 2005.
Although Oddworld's first-person shooter was built for the Xbox's "vastly different" hardware, Gilray noted that "a lot of it has been fairly easy to work with and make nice and PS3 compliant." Not that it's a full remake -- Just Add Water is making a few changes that'll be detailed later, but isn't adding any new mechanics or ravenous critters to Stranger's up-rezzed repertoire. Gilray wouldn't tell us whether any of the game's stunning pre-rendered videos would be upscaled or re-rendered in HD, which would likely make for an awfully large download.
If all goes to plan, you'll be able to add Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath to your PlayStation 3 download queue in April 2011. Just Add Water remains secretive about those other five projects, but we'll keep reminding them that we're still owed a few more games in the Oddworld Quintology. Plus one.