The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom Review

When Matt Korba and Paul Belleza were just a couple of fresh Interactive Media Programmers at USC, neither really imagined they would go on to create one of the most puzzling pie thieves in the history of video games, but with the recent release of The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom, that’s exactly what they’ve done. This somewhat short, 2D time-manipulation puzzle game mixes a very unique artistic style with a light-hearted story and presentation that is fun and engaging while simultaneously ominous and infuriating. Here’s a filling slice of what Winterbottom‘s all about.

The game’s protagonist is actually a somewhat unlikely antagonist, a sort of “anti-hero” whose singular goal is to consume as many pies as possible, at whatever cost. This obsession sets up a world full of destruction that only more pies could possibly fix, and so the misadventure ensues. The introduction to the game is fast and fun, although its learning curve is well paced. After the introduction, which is essentially the first of five “movies” throughout the game, P.B. is transported to a theater by the magical pie he’s following. This theater acts as a hub area, from which players can access each of the game’s worlds as they are unlocked, as well as bonus stages with time trials and recording challenges. From there the puzzles unfold.

pb winterbottom floats

The puzzles are clearly meant to be the real star of this game, although they are executed with only a small number of controls. With the right trigger, players can film Winterbottom and replay his actions on a loop, creating a number of clones that is limited by the particular puzzle. The real Winterbottom can jump on these clones to reach high ledges, use them to activate switches in his absence, and even hit them with an umbrella (by pressing X) to launch them across the screen. The game explores this mechanic extremely thoroughly, causing players to think about every possible way they can use these clones, and use the clones to use them, and on and on. Most levels only sport a few clones (2-5), but some side-scrolling levels allow 15+ clones to be made in order to effectively navigate the terrain. It can get pretty hectic, as well as increasingly difficult and often frustrating, especially with some of the new mechanics the game introduces in each new chapter, like “evil clones.” But finishing the more challenging puzzles is always rewarding. At times, finishing a puzzle is so exhausting, you just want to give your brain a break.

Winterbottom’s misadventure does feel a lot like Braid, which most who enjoy this game will probably recognize, due to its focus on puzzle solving and time manipulation. However, Winterbottom has a distinctly more light-hearted feel, with its silent-movie-meets-industrial-revolution art style, eerie sounding remakes of old-timey tunes, and rhyming couplet transition slides. The game often talks directly to the player with messages at the bottom of the screen, where the developers clearly allowed themselves some leeway to have a little fun, like making up the word “Crudstache.” Awesome.

pb winterbottom clones

The bonus levels are equally as trying as the main story levels, if not more so, requiring the player to collect all of the pies in either the fastest time or using the fewest clones. It’s difficult to even get past the first echelon of bonus levels, and unfortunately there’s not much incentive to do so, aside from a few achievements. This is probably a great and challenging aspect of this game that will remain unexplored by many players simply due to its extreme difficulty.

While this may be a short-lived journey with the world’s most notorious pie-thief, it’s impossible not to find the experience endearing and fun, and especially challenging and rewarding. This is an XBLA download that is well worth its weight in pie, or at least the 800 MS points it costs, and is a must-play for lovers of inventive, immersive, puzzle-platformers.


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Myspace
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • Stumnleupon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Technorati
Author: Dan Crabtree View all posts by
Dan is Managing Editor for GamerNode and a freelance gaming writer. His dog is pretty great. Check him out on Twitter @DanRCrabtree.

Leave A Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.