The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road
If we met the Wizard, we'd ask for a better Oz game
- The controls are easy to use and the classic turn-based RPG style of gameplay will appeal to fans of the genre.
- Repetitive battles are boring; Wizard of Oz references are out of place with the Japanese-style graphics and dialogue.
I would recommend this game to experienced RPG fans who want something light to play on the side but anyone expecting a worthwhile journey through Dorothy's adventures will walk away disappointed.
From the moment I booted up Beyond the Yellow Brick Road, I felt a sense of disappointment: the music used for the title screen was not "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" or "Follow the Yellow Brick Road." Instead, I was greeted by twirling anime-style Wizard of Oz characters. Sound strange? I thought so, too. As a huge Wizard of Oz fan, I was ready for an RPG adventure inspired by the iconic movie; unfortunately, that's not what the game is about. As I played, I was constantly haunted by the sense that the Oz references were nothing more than an after-thought, something they splashed onto a generic Japanese RPG in an effort to appeal to a wider audience. It left me disappointed and will probably inspire the same sense of letdown in other Oz fans as well.
There's No Place Like Home
The story starts off with a witch-summoned tornado accidentally whisking Dorothy (or whatever you decide to name her) away to Oz. She travels down the Yellow Brick Road with her three new friends (you know who they are) and eventually meets up with the Wizard. He tasks you with a mission: to retrieve some magical eggs that are scattered all over the different lands to help him defeat the four witches.
The controls in the game are dead simple: you can easily run around by dragging your stylus across a huge virtual track ball (this is supposedly one of the game's selling points, but I would have preferred an option to use the D-pad); anything else can be taken care of by hitting the "all-purpose" button whose function would change depending on the options that were currently available.
The Man Behind The Curtain
Sadly, as easy as the game is to play, it's also rather boring. The only time the game becomes interesting is when you would encounter an enemy and enter battle. In each skirmish, you're given four slots to fill with members of your party. Some characters would take up more than one action slot, so you had to choose wisely based on what type of monster each character specializes in defeating. That said, after an hour or so playing the game, I found the battles to be very repetitive and much too drawn out with little to show for them, either in the form of in-game rewards (money, experience points, etc.) or gameplay satisfaction.
The graphics are also fairly average for a DS title, and while every new level offers a fresh, nice change of pace from the last, each stage dragged on a tad too long. Overall, The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road is a bit too casual for hardcore RPG gamers and it doesn't pay enough fan service to appeal to hardcore fans of the Oz movie. I would recommend this game to experienced RPG fans who want something light to play on the side but anyone expecting a worthwhile journey through Dorothy's adventures will walk away disappointed.
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