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 %26lsquo;re-imagined%26rsquo; here as a JRPG %26ndash; and it%26rsquo;s a striking, unusual JRPG too.
It starts as you%26rsquo;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%26rsquo;re soon deposited on a remarkably stunning, 3D rendition of the iconic yellow brick road.
If you%26rsquo;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%26rsquo;s a little unusual, maybe, but it works %26ndash; largely thanks to the linear, narrow pathways that make up the game%26rsquo;s world.
Within half an hour you%26rsquo;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%26rsquo;s one unique idea %26ndash; it%26rsquo;s possible to customize the turn %26lsquo;ratio%26rsquo; so that, for instance, Dorothy may act four times in a turn at the expense of everyone else %26ndash; but otherwise it%26rsquo;s business as usual.
However, compared to many RPGs, it%26rsquo;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 %26ndash; sold to you by the Wizard himself. Oz may be beautiful and occasionally inventive, but it doesn%26rsquo;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