Oscar in Movieland (DSiWare)

Game Review

Oscar in Movieland Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

Cut, cut, cut

Oscar in Movieland was originally released for Amiga computers in 1993 under the name Oscar. While its predecessor, Oscar in Toyland, was centered around Troll dolls back in the day and later shoehorned the character into the game when developer Flair lost the license, Movieland was the first straight-up Oscar game.

Like Toyland, this is essentially a platforming scavenger hunt. In order to reach the end of the stage you need to collect a varying amount of Baby Oscar statues scattered throughout. There’s a handy map on the bottom screen to give you the lay of the land, and stages can be quite large and well-designed in places. There’s a lot of stages too; the seven “worlds,” which are loosely based on genres like sci-fi, cartoon and, uh, game shows, each include three stages to explore. You can tackle them in any order as well via the game’s hub world. Unfortunately the graphics make actually navigating the place a frustrating process in trial and error.

While the psychedelic backdrops of the first game have been nixed in favor of more detailed (and quite pleasant) sprite art, there is still a problem with not being able to distinguish the background from the playing field. Enemies are nigh-impossible to avoid without prior knowledge of their placement or by intense concentration on the playing field. Not knowing what’s a platform and what’s background can be very misleading at times, resulting in many a death from accidentally leaping into a pit. A few times we came across sections of stage that we were able to walk on only to have them straight-up disappear below our feet with no prior warning, eliciting the mixed confusion and anger that Wile E. Coyote must feel on a daily basis. These problems were there in the first game and it’s very annoying that they’re still here for the sequel.

And then there’s the matter of Oscar himself, who is a pretty obnoxious hangover from a gaming era whose sins included forcing ‘tude into characters. He’s just not very likeable, and for a mascot-driven game it’s kind of a problem when you can’t stand the mascot. Trolls are charming because they’re intentionally ugly and have roots in mythology; Oscar just looks stupid.

The save system is best described as puzzling. You can’t save when in a world and instead are only able to while in the main hub. The problem is that players aren’t on an Amiga anymore, and not being able to save unless you either beat three (occasionally lengthy) stages while on the go isn’t always a viable solution and there really isn’t a good reason for this. Not a big deal if you primarily play at home for long periods of time, but it kills short-burst sessions that portables are so good for.


Your mileage may vary on Oscar’s second outing. There’s a decent core game here, but the graphical issues of the first game are still intact and frustrating, and the save system might drag things down depending on how and where you tend to play. The 800 point price tag would be easier to justify had it been on Virtual Console (or if there were some sort of Virtual Handheld), but as a DSiWare release our expectations are higher since games are not intended to be a static snapshot of a bygone gaming era. As it is now, it's still a slightly broken, average game on the higher end of the pricing tier. That's not a great place to be.

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User Comments (25)



RetroBoy said:

Thats about what I would give it. It seems, how to put this lightly jacked-up!



warioswoods said:

I would have expected the (newly introduced!) parallax scrolling to have helped mitigate the foreground / background confusion you cite. I suppose that isn't the case after all.



Natie31 said:

Well i download this myself and i think its good and fun to play. Im done with all 7 stage now, i disgree if your feel like gettin this game then you should you will not go wrong.



SwerdMurd said:

Hmm...Panda's multi-paragraph, well-reasoned review or 2 random run-ons with incorrect grammar....I think I'll take Panda's advice.



Adamant said:

@Swerd_Murd: "Why are these games 800 points? I just can't figure out this pricing...."

The originals came out in the 16-bit era, and are comparable to SNES and Mega Drive games, so I assume they just looked at the VC's pricing points.



Chunky_Droid said:

A shame, they seemed to try really hard to fix the issues brought up in reviews on the first game.



Hardy83 said:

It's 800 because the last one was an sold fairly well, I mean it was on the charts for a while.
So why not try again? lol



Adamant said:

@Chunky Droid: It's not a new game, you know. This game was developed about 15 years before the reviews for the "last" game ticked in.



grumblegrumble said:

When I saw this sequel title in a news blurb here on NL a week or two ago I winced. When I saw you guys interview the people behind this (and the first Dsiware outing) I cried. When I saw you give it a 5 star review after acting like it was gonna be a pure masterpiece, I laughed.



abcdefghijklmnopqrst said:

This is better than they say it is. I have the 1st and it isnt the bad. Sometimes it is hard though. Im definately not getting it, but it at least deserves 7/10



Vinsanity said:

I don't see how the art could be a problem. I mean, I've played many a platformer whose background art clashed with foreground platforms, making things frustrating (mostly western Platformers - stuff like Earthworm Jim spring to mind). However, there's a map on the bottom screen! It seems like it would alleviate things somewhat...



barucci2000 said:

I bought the Oscar in Toyland before and I did not like it and I will not buy this one. expensive for 800 NP and I really did not like the graphik-style.

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