Oozi: Earth Adventure Review: Frustrating, But Familiar
The 2-D platforming genre is so old and well-represented by amazing titles at this point that it must be hard for a developer to find something fresh in gameplay to add to the conversation.
That might be why Oozi: Earth Adventure, a side-scroller in which players jump on enemies’ heads and avoid spiky pits, seems to offer so little that’s not an element cribbed from some other game. At this point, it’s hard not to crib from another platformer. And for the most part, at least, Oozi offers players a solid platforming experience that utilizes its many borrowed, rehashed or otherwise familiar elements pretty well. There’s nothing here that will throw you for a loop, and if you like the sort of bog-standard platforming experience, Oozi has it — quite a lot of it, actually.
But if a game lacks innovation, it’s expected that that lost ground be made up in mechanical excellence, and Oozi tends to lack that, too. Its controls are sometimes a bit loose and its rules a bit slippery. I found myself frustrated by the end of Oozi and more than ready to put the game down; while it could manage to be fun at times, without something new to show, I found myself wishing I was playing a tighter game.
Oozi: Earth Adventure
Platforms: PC (Reviewed), Xbox 360
Released: Feb. 5, 2013
If there’s a place in which Oozi excels from start to finish, it’s in the game’s visual stylings. The look of the game, with its bright colors and 2-D sprites, reminds us of the 16-bit era and all the fun that came with our first forays into titles such as Super Mario World. Each of the game’s four major environments is gorgeous, full of unique backgrounds, elements and enemies. Throughout the game’s run-time — which amounts to a few hours for its campaign of 24 levels — it’s a joy to look at.
While Oozi has a slick visual style, the game itself is almost completely composed of ideas you’ll have seen before. The thin story follows an alien who crash-lands on Earth (but it’s a weird Earth filled with weird creatures that don’t necessarily exist on Earth) and spends the rest of the game searching for his lost gear and his spaceship. Some of the pieces of restored equipment convey a different ability: the boots give double-jumping, the gloves wall jumping. The further you go, the more you’ll have to combine different elements to make your way through the game’s levels, as one might expect, and before long there are special switches for doors, jump pads activated by a stomp move, doorways to hide in as unkillable enemies pass unaware, and so on.
It’s actually kind of insane how many mechanics Oozi packs in while never coming up with any that are new to the genre. Just about everything you’ve ever seen in a platformer is represented in some fashion, from enemies that have to be stomped to be killed, to stationary creatures that chuck out four projectiles in arcs to the left and right — every challenge is a challenge you’ve completed in the past. Even the boss fights feel rote and familiar. While it’s all pretty to look at, you’ll almost never approach a situation where you don’t know exactly what to do instantly. And if you are momentarily confused, have no fear — the game will explain the situation with an in-game sign almost immediately.