In the past, I have occasionally bemoaned the fact that Oz is generally overlooked when it comes to video games. Most of the ones that do come out seem to be: 1) half-hearted, and 2) based pretty much entirely on the movie. Occasional book elements manage to seep in, but with so much of the series being in the public domain, you’d think someone might want to give it a shot. Oh, well. Oz continues to be the fantasy land that everybody knows but hardly anybody respects. There was recently an Oz RPG called The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road for the DS, which sounds promising, especially considering the comparisons to Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy. From what I’ve heard, though, there’s really very little of Oz in it. It has the four main protagonists, the Wizard (who eventually turns out to be a villain), and Wicked Witches ruling over four areas. That’s it. Not to mention that the typical gang looks like this:
So the Tin Woodman is an animated tank and the Scarecrow a member of a mariachi band? Okay, that’s…different. It’s kind of a shame, because not only are console RPGs my personal favorites, but the style seems appropriate for Oz. Really, it’s appropriate for narrative fantasy in general. The genre was heavily influenced by J.R.R. Tolkien, whose work contains considerably more epic battles and the like than the Oz series, but I still think it could fit Oz. The books have plenty of weird monsters to fight, and Ruth Plumly Thompson’s books especially often have what are essentially random encounters for adventurers. Granted, many of them are overcome due to luck or magical assistance, rather than…well, button-mashing, usually. So anyway, I’d love to see a console RPG based on the Oz series, but I don’t know how well it would go over with what L. Frank Baum called “the queer, strange public.” That said, I think Oz could work for other sorts of games as well. For instance:
- Monkey Flight – Control a Winged Monkey while dodging various sky-bound obstacles and gathering fruit.
- Nome Raider – I believe it was Scott Hutchins who suggested the idea of an invasion of the Nome Kingdom using Nerf guns loaded with eggs. I think this could work as a first-person shooter. Alternatively (or perhaps in another stage), you could hunt witches with a water pistol.
- Glinda, Witch-Fighter Extraordinary – Another idea that came up in conversation on an Oz forum, this one has Glinda taking on magical opponents in the past of the Land of Oz.
- Escape from the Vegetable Kingdom – A side-scroller based on Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz has your protagonist fighting or dodging Mangaboos, invisible bears, Gargoyles, and dragons in order to reach the surface. Not sure exactly how the invisible enemies would work, but that’s for the programmers to figure out.
- Dance Dance Revolution: Patchwork Girl Mix – You’ll need legs stuffed with cotton to successfully perform these dance moves.
- Jinjur’s Harvest – A farming simulation…sort of. Jinjur has to harvest her crops and train them to march to market.
- Super Jellia Jamb 3D – You control Jellia, who has to battle gremlins that had invaded Ozma’s palace, while simultaneously trying to keep order in the place.
- Stratovanian Invaders – Use an Ozoplane equipped with an Ozmic Ray to shoot down waves of Strut’s soldiers, chocolate warriors, and aliens from Anuther Planet.
- Scalawagon Racer – A racing game in which familiar characters drive the creepy-looking cars invented by the Wizard.
- Sim-erald City – Like The Sims, but taking place in the Emerald City. Live out the Ozmopolitan life in the most glorious place on the face of the Earth or the stars.