Review: Oscar's World Tour (DSiWare)

Around the world, around the world

Oscar's World Tour marks the fourth instalment of the series on DSiWare, and once again finds Oscar in the familiar situation of tracking down Baby Oscars and heading for the Pig Stop. While the game stays very close to its predecessors in terms of gameplay, the developer has tossed in a few new visual twists to give it a fresh new look. But are these cosmetic upgrades and new level designs really enough to warrant a purchase, even priced at a rather affordable $5?

The premise of Oscar's World Tour is simple: collect the required number of Baby Oscars and then head for the Pig Stop in order to complete the level. To accomplish this feat, you'll have to run, jump, fly and swim, and while this might sound simple enough, you'll soon find that the tiny enemies and slippery feel of the game can make this quite a bit more challenging that it probably should be.

While Oscar can jump right from the start of each level, he'll have to track down power-ups in order to successfully navigate his way around. The yo-yo will be your weapon of choice, but it too must be located before it can be used. Once you've picked it up, you can then use it to take enemies out and grab onto and swing from ledges. As if this weren't enough, you can also locate power-ups like the wings and springy shoes, which we're sure you can figure out on your own. You'll soon find that traversing some of the later levels in the game are made far easier if you take the time to track these items down.

Your adventure will take you across seven different regions, each with three main levels to tackle. Of course if you manage to beat a level, you'll then unlock a bonus level that can be played as well. Each region features its own unique theme and enemies, but the gameplay itself remains fairly standard across each world, although new elements such as moving and disappearing platforms are introduced at regular intervals to mix things up a bit.

The controls have a very slippery feel to them from the start. And to make matters worse, the physics end up feeling a bit too floaty to accurately stomp on enemies, especially given their tiny size. It's doesn't make the game unplayable, but it will require you to acclimate yourself to the strange feel the game offers up. It also would have been nice to have the yo-yo weapon from the start rather than having to spend time tracking it down each time. It's little annoyances like this that ultimately drag the enjoyment factor down throughout the experience.

On the plus, there's some very well-designed and coluorful visuals. Even the multi-layered scrolling manages to give the game a fairly polished look, although the lack of any type of animation or movement in the backgrounds does take some of the realism away from the presentation. There's a lot of variety between the different regions of the game, not only in the surroundings, but also the characters and enemies as well.

The quirky musical tracks do a very nice job of carrying the light-hearted theme the game makes use of, just don't expect to catch yourself humming any of them once you've put down the game. Much like the visuals, they too feature a good amount of variety, so at least you won't have to worry about having the same tunes frequently repeated.

Conclusion

Oscar's World Tour is certainly not a bad game, but its list of minor flaws add up by the time it's all said and done. The slippery controls and repetitive gameplay can be annoying at times, but there's still some fun platforming to be found for those who manage to stick long enough to come to grips with it. In the end, it's not a huge step up from previous releases, and is only worth a look for die-hard platformer fans with reasonable expectations.

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