The Wizard Of Oz, that enduring tale of a young girl invading a foreign country, crushing the local populace and stealing their shoes, has been ‘re-imagined’ here as a JRPG – and it’s a striking, unusual JRPG too.
It starts as you’d expect, with Dorothy and Toto uprooted by a storm and dropped into the magical land of Oz. After a static, text-heavy intro, you’re soon deposited on a remarkably stunning, 3D rendition of the iconic yellow brick road.
If you’re still a little wary of stylus controls, this might not be the title for you: moving Dorothy around requires swiping across a spinning globe on the touch screen. Swipe slowly to walk, and faster and repeatedly to gallop at full pelt. It’s a little unusual, maybe, but it works – largely thanks to the linear, narrow pathways that make up the game’s world.
Within half an hour you’ll have bumped into the Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and Tin Man. Crossing paths with one of the many roaming enemies will initiate a turn-based battle, in the vein of Dragon Quest. There’s one unique idea – it’s possible to customize the turn ‘ratio’ so that, for instance, Dorothy may act four times in a turn at the expense of everyone else – but otherwise it’s business as usual.
However, compared to many RPGs, it’s a disappointingly shallow experience. Abilities and stats are beyond your control, doled out at each level-up. The most you can do is add one weapon and one piece of armour to each of your warriors – sold to you by the Wizard himself. Oz may be beautiful and occasionally inventive, but it doesn’t delve deep enough into the original story to be a satisfying adaptation, or far enough into RPG territory to make up for it. A pretty game, but mostly insubstantial.
Oct 1, 2009