Amstrad Action

Return To Oz

Author: The Pilgrim
Publisher: U. S. Gold
Machine: Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Action #15

Return To Oz

TV and film tie-ins have been all the rage in recent months, with The Never Ending Story, and arcade games based on everything from Superman to Doctor Who. For the most part, they've been pretty dire, but I had high hopes of Return To Oz since it bears the prestigious Disney seal of approval - surely the descendants of Walt would not put their name to anything less than awesome?

Hmmm ... Well, the fact is that this game is pretty ... er ... Mickey Mouse. I polished it off in 35 minutes, which is my current record for solving a game from scratch. But, before you pass on to the next review in disgust, perhaps you should ponder awhile some of the innovations and interests of this little gamette.

Return To Oz requires no text input whatsoever. At each stage of the game, the bottom of the screen bears a menu from which, using a combination of the space bar and the Enter key, you select one of six options. Those are LOOK, TALK, SEARCH, GET, LIST, and LEAVE.

Return To Oz

The aim of the game is to make use of these options to move from one screen-location to another and return to Oz, where things are in a bad way. You must restore the rightful Queen of Oz to her throne, destroy the wicked Nome King, and outwit other nasties in the process.

The game system works very well, given its limitations. For example: you press TALK and on the screen a little square will pick out one of the characters present if you can talk to him. At this point it's worth pressing SPACE to see if the square flips to any of the other characters displayed (if there are any). If it does, then you can choose who you wish to talk to by pressing Enter.

Sounds good, but the actual gameplay is very limited. TALKing, for example, sounds interesting but in fact simply means getting occasional helpful messages from other characters. The other commands are similarly efficient in their operation and selection, and similarly limited in the effects they actually produce.

There aren't very many puzzles in the game, and most of them are solvable provided you have the right object with you. Since you can carry all the objects in the game simultaneously, and since the program obligingly tells you which one will be effective in each case, you don't have much problem here.

Return To Oz could have been a very enjoyable game for younger players, but I wonder if it isn't just a bit too limited. Certainly anyone who's done even a modicum of adventuring would find it very simple fare. The blurb that comes with the program says, 'While the story closely follows the plot of the film, it has been necessarily expanded to make the game more playable and more of a challenge.' If that's the case, I'm glad I didn't bother to see the film.

The Pilgrim

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