There’s something wonderful about playing an anti-hero. There are no damsels to save, no false choices to make that result in your character saving the world just because it needs saving, and the character design is always better on the bad guy than the hero anyhow. Darth Vader, Scorpius, and Benjamin Linus agree – bad guy is where it’s at. P.B. Winterbottom understands these things – he’s a foul detestable man whose sole ambition is to steal pies. Why does he steal pies, you ask. Because they are delicious and he wants them. That’s all there is to it. So when his latest caper causes a tear in time that allows P.B. to create time loops and clones his natural inclination is to use these newfound powers to more effectively steal pies.
The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom is equal parts Braid and the Clank segments from Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time, and silent black and white movies. In his journey through the game’s five zones, P.B. can stack clones on top of one another to reach high platforms, smack clones to make them fly across the screen (or orchestrate a clone smacking you), use time loops to work numerous levers and switches, and stand on top or recorded clones as they journey across the screen.
As sections of the story are completed challenge rooms are unlocked. These challenge rooms play identically to the main game with one addition. The idea is not to complete the scenario quickly or with as few clones as possible. What was simple with 10 clones may border on the impossible with only five. It’s nice to see more games learning from the examples set by Bionic Commando: ReArmed and Shodow Complex – we love a challenge, and creating challenge rooms is a great way to lengthen the gameplay experience without needlessly padding the main story.
Added to the time-based puzzle gameplay is Winterbottom’s aesthetic. The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom takes on the look and sound of an old silent movie, and P.B. Winterbottom feels at home there. He’s mustache-twirlingly evil – not so bad that you actively despise him, but just out there enough that you find yourself rooting for him even though he’s an anti-hero. When replays are created film grain effects pop up and an old project sound plays. The Odd Gentlemen have lovingly placed these little details all throughout the game, and it’s better for it.
P.B. Winterbottom’s one fault is the same as those games that inspired it – tight timing. In both Braid and A Crack in Time I would figure out the solution to the current puzzle but be “this close” (imagine my fingers are really close together) to actually pulling it off. It’s frustrating to know what to do but struggle to actually make it happen. This is at least half my fault as the tools are adequate to get the job done, but if you frustrate easily then the latter levels of The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom may not be for you. For everybody else though, this little black and white gem is a steal at only 800 MS points.
Plays Like: Braid, Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time (Clank time puzzles)
Pros: Wonderful theme, light-hearted tone, copious challenge rooms
Cons: Timing gets fairly demanding toward the end