STAFF REVIEW of The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom (Xbox 360 Arcade)

Monday, March 1, 2010.
by Adam Dileva

The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom Box art It?s not very often you?ll find a new company release a game that has so much charm that it makes it almost impossible to dislike. The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom is a comical tale of a man simply wanting to fulfill his appetite with tasty pie pastry. To do so he will use time altering abilities and even compete against, and disrupt your past, present, and future selves.

You play as the deviant Winterbottom himself across more than 50 levels as he pursues the elusive Chronoberry pie to fill his appetite. This mysterious pie does almost anything to avoid being eaten by Winterbottom and will even distort time and space to do so.

If the premise of this tale sounds silly, that?s because it is and it?s not afraid to do so by not taking itself too seriously. Your adventures will have you traveling all around caverns, to the town of Bakersburg, and even a burning bakery just to get more delicious pastries.

The story is played out between the short recesses between stages and is done so in the old style black and white silent films. Everything is hand drawn and the complete presentation is done so in an amusing way that even will make fun of you during the process. Because it?s played out like a silent film that also means Winterbottom doesn?t have anything to say, yet you still find him an amusing character as the soundtrack to follow suit fits in wonderfully.

Gathering pies is no easy task, especially when they are in unreachable areas and require more than one person to reach. This is where Winterbottom?s ability to make a clone of himself comes into play. You can hold the record button at any time and when you release it a cloned version of yourself will continually loop the actions that were recorded endlessly unless the set path is broken or he is smacked.

Each level has a set amount of clones allowed at one time and this is where much of the strategy comes into play. At first you?ll only need to make a clone then stand on its head to reach the next platform but eventually you?ll need your recordings to flip switches, stand on pressure plates, or even smack the real you to get those elusive pies.

As stages become more and more challenging so do the criteria to complete it. Some stages have pies that are only obtainable by your clones and others that you need to get all the pies in a set amount of time and a set order. Further on you?ll need to make quite a few multiples of yourself quickly as some of the puzzles become quite frustratingly difficult.

The closest counterpart to Winterbottom would have to be Braid because of its time manipulation but this is different enough that it can stand on its own two legs and doesn?t feel like more of the same.

There are around 50 main levels that compile the story and as you progress you unlock another twenty five bonus levels that are essentially time trails (but unique).

Just as you think you are getting the hang of solving these puzzles out they throw in some that will completely stump you to the point of frustration. Granted, you do feel very rewarded when you finally ?click? and get what you are supposed to do, but there is a fine line of feeling like a genius and an idiot.

The bonus levels can be quite fun as you want the quickest time with using the least amount of clones. These levels tie into the leaderboards and just when you think you?ve completed a stage quickly you?ll see how bad your time really is compared to everyone else online. It?s a great to see what the great players are able to get for times but the lack of being able to watch their replays was a big downer for me. Though granted, most people would just watch the #1 persons replay and mimic it, it still would have been nice to see how its done (like in Trials HD).

I can?t give enough praise to the music throughout the game; it absolutely fits the visuals and doesn?t become annoying like most repetitive games do.

Again, the difficulty will vastly range from easy and done in seconds to sitting there for forty minutes staring at a puzzle unable to see how it?s possible to complete.

Winterbottom reminded me of Braid not only because of the same puzzle genre but because it?s a title that came out of nowhere (and a brand new developer) and has the quality that very few indie games ever reach. At 800 points, this game is so charming that if you even remotely enjoy puzzle solving, it?s worth the purchase. Don?t take my word, try the demo, but be prepared to crave some delicious pie afterwords.

Overall: 8.5 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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