Oscar in Toyland 2 Review
Posted by Marcel van Duyn
Oscar in Average Land 2: Mediocre Harder
In September 2009 we got Oscar in Toyland on DSiWare, and almost a year ago we saw its follow-up, Oscar in Movieland, come to the service. Both of them were secretly slightly redone ports of Amiga platformers, which, in a weird way, meant that there were actually some Virtual Console games available on the service. We didn't score either game very highly, either. Now, Oscar is back in Oscar in Toyland 2, but how different is it from the other two?
As far as we know, this third Oscar outing is not based on any older game and is pretty much completely new. Well, it's completely new except for the gameplay, that is – you still run around a number of levels collecting a set amount of Baby Oscar statues, which will then open an exit to continue onward. Oscar can do absolutely nothing besides run and jump at the start of each life, but he can acquire a bunch of power-ups, such as a yo-yo to attack with, and temporary power-ups that grant him helpful abilities like high jumps, flight, or, on the negative side of the spectrum, slow movement or invisibility.
Getting these items can be quite annoying, however. Scattered around each level is a limited amount of balloons – you'd think running into them would automatically make you reap their rewards, but instead, doing so will cause items to pop up into the air above them. Of course, everything has to come down, so before you know it, those items will descend and continue off the screen if you don't bother trying to get them. As such, you'll need to very quickly judge if an item is worth getting or not, which can prove to be an enormous hassle sometimes.
Some Baby Oscars can only be acquired with specific power-ups, which tends to make the game even more tedious. While you don't ever really need all Baby Oscars, you'll only be able to skip one or two of them in most stages, which means that doing some planning beforehand can be smart. If you get stuck with no necessary items after hitting a checkpoint, you'll have to start the level over, as balloons don't re-spawn in such a case.
You can also get letters from balloons, of which there are six in total, spelling out either BONUS or BOGUS. If you have BONUS at the end of a level, you'll be rewarded with a short bonus stage to get some extra points and/or lives. Should you have BOGUS, you'll get much the same, but should you fail to meet the objective, you will automatically lose a life and continue to the next stage. If you do have BOGUS, it's possible to find another N and replace the G, as there are multiple instances of each letter in each stage, but the fast nature of the balloon rewards can make this more frustrating than it should be.
If you were annoyed by the overly colourful nature of the first Toyland game, thankfully, it's a bit toned down here. The colours of platforms and what-not are much more subdued, while the backgrounds are not ugly, empty mishmashes of colour and instead actually have some detail in them. The music is still quite forgettable, however, with nothing really sticking out as being anywhere near catchy.
There is one other notable change between this and the previous Oscar games, however, and that is the price. The other two were 800 DSi Points each, but for this one the developers have generously dropped it to 500, which is a bit more reasonable.
Aside from some very slightly improved graphics and a lower price, there really isn't anything that makes this Oscar game tower above the previous two. If you absolutely have to get one of them, this is arguably the best choice, but if you already tried one or both of the earlier titles and didn't quite enjoy them, you're not going to walk away from this one with a much different impression.