'The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom' is an original platforming puzzle title for the Xbox Live Arcade, and judging from its name, you can already probably tell that 'Winterbottom' isn't going to be your standard affair. In a quest for pie, you will follow P.B. Winterbottom through a mischievous enigma filled world.
If you are like me, then you are likely thinking, who in the world is 'P.B. Winterbottom'? The name alone should generate some interest for 'the Odd Gentlemen' who are debuting their first gaming release with the help of '2K Play'. To put all the questions aside, 'Mr. Winterbottom' is a mysterious man who is obsessed with pie! In his misadventures, Winterbottom chases these allusive pies through a number of mind-bending worlds. Now if this sounds a bit odd, it is! 'The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom' is an odd little puzzle platforming game that is delightfully refreshing, and a nice addition to the Xbox Live Arcade.
A Gorey Influence
The 2D world of 'Winterbottom' is like something taken out a classic 'Tim Burton' film-- a Victorian filled landscape with an overdose of grey tones and ill-proportioned pies. The direct inspiration for the game comes from the work of illustrator/writer 'Edward Gorey', whose imagery has grown into a legacy. His work is surrealist art with a heavy influence of macabre/goth which coincides with the game, except the game is in full motion. Along with a strong ‘Gorey’ influence the development team also marks silent films as an inspiration, and it shows. The graphical contribution plays an important role in making 'Winterbottom' stand out from the rest of content currently on 'Live'.
Five Layers of Tasty Pastry
Fitting in perfectly with the distinct art style is the abstract nature of the puzzles. Winterbottom bounces around with a number of different platforming methods of play that always innovates with a anomalous puzzles, if not its gameplay mechanics. No one level is exactly the same and throughout the 5 levels (called movies), your skills, and wits will be tested. In total we're looking at 75 individual puzzles that included bending time, and other disruptive traits to get that tasty pastry.
The main goal of each puzzle is to collect all the pies, and this is done in several ways. In the initial stages of the game, you will simply be functioning on a platforming level with a few switch tricks to get you started. However, as the game continues things get harder, it will introduce its doppelganger mechanics that lets you create clones of yourself to work out puzzles.
After the first episode, capturing these simple little pies become a lot more elaborate than you probably envisioned. No longer will you simply be jumping across scaffolding and flipping switches. You will have to clone yourself and learn how to abuse this system to your advantage. This includes whacking yourself causing your clone to fly across the screen and more. Each level that requires the use of clones to be completed will be restriction to certain number of doppelganger's that you can have cloned at one time. This will cause the electrodes to starting firing in your brain as some levels can be tricky to complete. Thankfully, clones can always be easily created, or deleted with the press of a button. Deepening on your love of puzzle games, 'Winterbottom' should provide an adequate challenge, and should be avoided by those with quick tempers.
Drop the Beat
You might think that creating clones and getting pies would get stale by it doesn’t. This helped along with the unique visual style along with a strong musical score. The musical score in 'Winterbottom' is very interesting that blends a ragtime feel with other modern elements like strong humming organs and a bottom heavy kick, along with some eerie droning tracks. The looping soundtrack does wonders for images on the screen, which help to construct a cohesive package that truly feels like 'Elfman/Burton' outtake. In comparison to other downloadable games, Winterbottoms' quality is a step above the pack.
'The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom' is a wonderful addition to the 'Xbox Live Arcade'. The whimsical nature of the art, music, and replicating gameplay is not only a refreshing take on platforming/puzzling games, but it's an excellent brain-straining challenge to all those “thinking” gamers who can endure a little trial-and-defeat. For 800MS Points (roughly $10), 'Winterbottom' fills our stomachs with a mischievous piece of pie-chasing goodness.
Final Score: 8.7
Reviewed by DowntownJimmy | 02.24.10
- Deathly-good, macabre influenced art direction
- Lots of fun, and interesting puzzles
- Crafty gameplay mechanics
- Concept is ridiculous (in a good way)
- Loopy audio is boldly solid
- Leaderboards improve replay value
- Excellent sense of accomplishment
- Puzzles might be too challenging for casual puzzle gamers (like me)
- Not for gamers who are easily frustrated
- If you’re good, the game will be over quickly
- Gorey-influenced Style might dourer some gamers