The Misadventures of P. B. Winterbottom (XBLA) Review
Title: The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom
Publisher: 2K Play
Developer: The Odd Gentleman
Rated: E for Everyone
P. B. Winterbottom loves pie. So much, in fact, that he destroys the timeline and is able to make clones of himself.
The first game from developers The Odd Gentleman, The Misadventures of P. B. Winterbottom has you controlling Winterbottom as you make various clones of him to reach all the pies in a stage to move on.
The game is broken up into five movie levels, each with 10 stages in it except for the first, which has 11. Each level has a unique theme, which I’ll discuss later, along with a specific part of the story that goes along with it. To advance to the next stage, all you need to do is simply eat all the pies in a stage.
The story is told through still images with text. I was always interested to read the text, as the developers put a nice sense of humor into the writing that made me always interested to see the next area.
One such line that caught my attention was “In Worthishman’s Tavern, last call never came. And the singing that followed put bagpipes to shame.” It’s lines like this that gives the game its charm.
Another area that’s great to read is the text at the bottom of the stage. It starts out giving hints before just joking around with you and saying random lines. Make sure to read these comments as they really add to the humor the game has.
Winterbottom opens up with the main character going through and getting pies while teaching you the basic controls, such as jumping, hovering and hitting items. Eventually, you stumble onto the Chronoberry Pie that alters time and allows Winterbottom to make clones of him.
The amount of clones you can make on each level depends on the stage. In the top left corner is the number of clones that is allowed to be out at once, making any more than that will just delete a clone. The clones are necessary to the stage and progressing through it. Clones can be programmed to do anything that Winterbottom can, and will loop as soon as the recording of what to do is ended.
To record, you simply hold RT as you move them through what they need to do. As soon as you release RT the clones start on their path. Clones can hit switches to open doors, stand on areas to make springs launch you higher or even hit you to a new location. However, by knocking a clone off of their path, you confuse them and they will just sit there dazed. Hitting Y will delete the last made clone so you can make a new one elsewhere.
Another useful feature with these clones is the ability to stack them. As long as they’re standing still, the clones stack smoothly and can be jumped on to reach higher places. If the clones are made jumping, though, they can sometimes fall off what they were stacked on and mess up your plans in a stage.
After getting accustomed to just making clones, the four levels that come after that have some kind of gimmick associated with each one. The second level has a time limit that pies stay visible, the third allows only clones to get pies, the fourth allows only short-term use of clones in certain areas and the last stage has you using a spotlight to get pies. The fourth level also introduces red clones that can kill you if you touch them. Fortunately, if you die you just respawn at the beginning of the level.
I was especially impressed with the last few stages of the last level. Having the clones revolt on you was a god challenge to figure out how to use their anger and free will to your advantage to complete stages.
After beating an entire level, you unlock a Bonus Short in the Theatre of Time, where you walk around in to get to the next area. The Bonus Short gives you five levels to beat under the time limit and under the amount of clones used. These levels really challenge you to try to achieve the medals for doing both. Often, you’ll have to get one medal done then come in and do the level in a completely different way to do the other.
This actually brings me to the main things I want to talk about: the difficulty of the levels. The game starts off fairly simple, as do stages inside of each level. The curve to hard is apparent, though, as you go through a level. Stages get to a point where I often had to step back and analyze a level to figure out what it wanted from me and how to do it. Some levels would actually take me five to 10 minutes of just looking before finally understanding how to make my characters act in a short amount of time.
However, even with this curve I never got to a point where I had to stop playing out of anger or frustration. Beating a level always gave me a sense of accomplishment and made me want to go on. In some ways, this really reminded me of Braid and the challenge level of stages in it.
Graphically, the black and white style of the game fits the old fashioned feel the game wants. Only the pies have any color to them, and it just helps them stand out from the impressive backgrounds. The music was also great in the game. During the times where I sat there thinking, the music was always catchy and fun to listen to.
The game is short. Players can probably progress through the game in 4-5 hours on the first playthrough, if not less. After beating the game, besides going back through the Bonus Shorts to get all the medals, there is not much else to do. People that like leaderboards will be able to try to increase their standing in all the shorts, but for others the story may be all the playing they get out of the game.
Overall, Winterbottom offers a fun puzzle game that will keep you entertained for hours. The graphics and sound is great, and the clone gameplay was solid. While some puzzles may have you stumped for a while, the solution is always there to be worked out. Fans of Braid and puzzle games should definitely pick this up. Other gamers may want to try it out first.