For years, many thought thatthe 2D platformer was dead. Once Mario took his first steps into the world of 3D on the Nintendo 64, pretty much every other name in the genre followed suit. Every game character that you can think of made the jump to the 3D-platforming bandwagon, even those who hadn’t been platformers in the first place. Bomberman, Sonic, Pac-Man, Earthworm Jim, and even Mega Man, they all flocked to the budding 3D platformer genre . Recently things have started going back the other way. Much like fighting games in the past couple of years, the industry has slowly started to re-embrace the 2-dimensional perspective as the go-to perspective for the platforming genre.
As the games have moved back to the traditional perspective, they have also chosen to adopt more complicated gameplay mechanics meant to vary the experience. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing by any means, but sometimes I long for the days of simple, straight forward platforming akin to something like Bubsy or a classic Sonic adventure. It appears as though the staff over at Awesome Games does too and they set out to create just that over the past couple of years: a classic platforming experience. Enter Oozi: Earth Adventure, the result of their effort(s) and a game that would have fit right in on the Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis.
Right from the start, it is clear that Oozi has a different focus than its modern brethren. Where games such as Rayman Origins and New Super Mario Bros. aim to offer an extended and varied gameplay experience, Oozi sets out to be a straight-forward platformer. Nothing more and nothing less. You play as Oozi, a little space alien who has crash landed on Earth; during the crash, not only did you lose your ship but also your space suit which enables a wide variety of abilities for our little hero. It will be up to you to guide Oozi through this strange new planet in order to find all of the pieces to his suit so that you can get back home.
As I said, Oozi is more simplistic than modern platformers. This game isn't about solving complex puzzles or defeating complicated monsters; that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some big enemies though as the game does have its fair share of classic-style boss fights. The joy here is in the adventure and the platforming, just like it used to be; nothing more, nothing less. Can you make it to that platform that appears to be just out of range? Can you navigate a particularly tricky slope filled with spike-covered enemies? That pretty much describes the level of complexity that you will find in Oozi: Earth Adventure. It does become a little deeper than that as you earn back your abilities; you will eventually be able to do things such as double jump, throw objects, and eventually even wall jumping to assist you in traversing the varied landscape.
The game is all about the fun and honestly one that younger gamers will enjoy more than older ones. While Oozi put a smile on my face, my daughter, who is just getting into games, was ecstatic while playing it. That isn’t to say that the game doesn’t offer some enjoyment for the more “advanced” players out there. As you progress through the game’s campaign and collect special hearts, you will unlock levels in the game’s challenge mode. These levels introduce harder mechanics into the experience such as strict time limits, and pre-requisites such as collecting all of the power ups before you can leave an area. It is a drastic change of pace from the care free experience of the game’s story mode which let’s you move along at your own pace.
While the game plays like it should have been released twenty years ago, it certainly doesn’t look or sound like a title from that era. Awesome Games has utilized an extremely colorful and vivid hand-drawn style. The graphics and animations are beautiful and it looks a bit like a cartoon that has come to life. The soundtrack is equally as enjoyable while it , however it does run into some issues when tracks come to an end; the tracks don’t flow right into one another and there is a bit of an awkward silence when one ends before it restarts. There isn’t even as much as a smooth transition audibly; one moment you are bouncing along to a catchy tune and then it just stops.
Sure, Oozi isn’t anywhere as deep as something such as Rayman Origins, but Oozi does offer some enjoyment for fans of the platforming genre. It is a refreshing change of pace to have a game that I can sit down and enjoy for a few minutes without having to expel too much effort; it is even better to be able to do so alongside my daughter. The industry needs more games like this; it needs games that are more accessible and enjoyable for players of all ages. That being said, I fully acknowledge that this isn’t something that will be for everyone. If you want something to enjoy that won’t work your brain too hard or can help you firmly plant that controller into the hands of the next generation of gamers, Oozi will fit that role perfectly.
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