Ozzy & Drix (Game Boy Advance) - Review by Andrew
I have to say we were all a little excited when the first in-game footage of Ozzy & Drix was posted on the Midway Site. After all this was one of the first true realizations of Raylight Studios Blue Rose technology which we'd only previously seen in a handful of demos they'd showcased over the past few years. The first was probably Wing Commander Prophecy towards the end of last year, although this met with a rather mixed response from both gamers and critics alike. Ozzy & Drix themselves are the rather odd stars of a cartoon spin off inspired by characters from Osmosis Jones which we're ashamed to say we've never actually seen so the whole franchise thing is completely lost on us. The technology though isn't but can that initial excitement have any grounding in the final game or is this simply another good looking but incredibly shallow product?
Although this is billed as a 3D platformer it's actually far more restrictive than you'd like to believe and indeed rather than being completely free roaming it's more akin to the classic console title Pandemonium which has recently gained a new audience thanks to Nokia's N-Gage. Ozzy & Drix is an 'A' to 'B' type affair with a handful of bonus items to be collected en route. The most valuable of these are the cells and amassing 100 of them gains you an extra life that, trust us, you'll need. The rest of the level is a collection of pretty much everything you've seen before: push a button to open a door / activate a platform whilst avoiding bad stuff. What is unexpected though is just how difficult this game is and while it's always clear where you have to go, getting there is never simple thanks to the frustrating level design. From the offset there are tiny platforms and giant leaps to be made with absolutely no safety net to aid your progress. If that?s not bad enough the checkpoints are hardly plentiful and not really as useful as they could be as once you've lost all your lives you'll have to restart the level anyway.
As well as the platforming 'fun' there are also some end of level bosses to dispose of, and although we were dreading them after the level difficulty they were actually remarkably simple. In addition there are also the driving sections. These generally involve you tailing or ramming another vehicle off the road and you'll probably succeed on your first attempt sending you back to yet another platform section. Thankfully the password system has been kept very simple and if publishers refuse to pay the extra for battery backup this is probably as simple and user friendly as you're likely to get - five digits, a mixture of letter and numbers, which can almost be remembered. Don't attempt this though because we did and it never works.
I'd like to say that there's at least one good aspect of the game?s controls but unfortunately there really isn't. You have to wonder if the developers actually played the finished version before unleashing it on the general public. For starters the main characters aren't nearly as responsive as you'd expect which is essential to overcome some of the game?s other numerous pitfalls. The worst of these has to be the collision detection and I don't really need to tell anyone that without pixel perfect defined areas, platformers are a bit of a lottery and that's exactly what we have here. In addition the combat is a little confusing as standing in front of an enemy and firing your weapon won't always result in you actually hitting them. Strange but true. Controlling the various vehicles is a little easier but as these are only featured in a small part of the game which appears to be over in a matter of seconds it doesn't really help things.
The visuals are clearly this game?s unique selling point but as with many aspects of this game they're simply not as impressive as the initial trailer had led us to believe. The pre-rendered backgrounds are fine and some of the cut screens are undoubtedly impressive but the main character animation is poor making them appear very wooden indeed. The engine itself is commendable and there's never any real sense of slowdown regardless of how much is happening on screen but you do get the feeling that so much more could have been done here. It's possibly most noticeable in the overall level design, which is uninspiring at best rendering the whole exercise a wasted opportunity.
Clearly after cramming that much technology onto the cart there was very little space for the audio and Ozzy & Drix falls into the old age trap of using small sampled loops resulting in a repetitive soundtrack. The samples are a little better but with no licensed voices from the series they're simply incidental noises.
While Ozzy & Drix will always be an impressive use of the Blue Rose Technology it's incredibly frustrating to play and rather than making the levels progressively more difficult even the first level will take you a number of attempts to master even if you do manage to do it without throwing your GBA against the wall and even on completion you simply have to deal with more of the same in level two. The 'leap of faith' design should never be an option for either providing a challenge or lengthening gameplay and unfortunately it appears to have been employed here at every possible opportunity. This results in a game, which is neither rewarding nor fun to play. It's still an impressive use of technology though and something that will no doubt showcase the GBA's untapped potential for some time to as long as nobody actually plays it.
Pro: Very Ambitious
Con: Very Frustrating
Final score: 4.2
|Platform:||Game Boy Advance|