Ever get tired of endless hordes of enemies you have to shoot with various weapons? Tired of running around huge maps trying to figure out what to do next? Need a break from serious gaming and relax a bit? The answer is Oozi, a new indie game from a two-man team known as Awesome Games Studio (fancy name eh?). Awesome Games Studio is known for Xbox Live titles and now they've released their first PC game that promises to deliver everything you've ever wanted in a platform game. But can you still pick up the controller for some jumping action after hundreds of complicated AAA titles that require your full attention? Has the gaming world turned into a place where only ground-breaking gameplay mechanics and DX11 effects sell games? Let's find out.
The story of Oozi starts when you're making a normal delivery in your spaceship somewhere in the universe. Suddenly your fuel runs out and you crash-land into an unknown world. You're separated from your spaceship and your quest is to find it. The story is told with only a few, cartoon-like speech bubbles between levels but being a platforming game the story is not really that important. What's more important is the gameplay and what would a platform game be with crappy controls?
The gameplay of Oozi is extremely simple; you jump around levels avoiding hazardous things and enemies while collecting stars. Each level has 5 hidden stars that unlock a bonus Challenge level if you find them all. You move around and perform the only two actions available in the game (jump and use) with the keyboard. You can also use your mouse to perform the actions but it turned out to be quite awkward. The game supports the Xbox 360 controller (which is the only real way to play platformers) and with the help of MotioninJoy my cheap controller worked with the game like a charm. The controls are very fluid and the second you start playing you know exactly what to do. In addition to the basic jumping, Oozi learns new moves as you progress through the game.
The enemies you'll encounter include critters like snails, hedgehogs and spiders. You can kill most enemies by jumping on them but some require you to stomp on them and some are invincible. The enemies follow a certain pattern and the best way to defeat them is to study their moves. Of course you aren't obliged to kill them. There are also boss fights between each world and they require a special strategy (usually avoid, avoid, stomp) to defeat them. Other hazards in the levels include your classic platforming menaces; spikes, falling platforms and water for example. Luckily Oozi can withstand 3 hits before going 6 feet under and the hearts are replenished when you reach a checkpoint. The checkpoints are fairly close to each other so the only reason for Oozi's death lays between the monitor and the chair.
The game has 24 levels in total, divided into 4 worlds each with it's own theme. After 5 levels you'll encounter the boss of the world. The levels are nicely designed and their length is just perfect (around 10-20 minutes per level). Completing levels ans finding hidden stars unlocks special Challenge and Arcade levels. Challenge levels are special levels designed to test your knowledge of Oozi's capabilites and the Arcade levels have time limit to test your platforming skills. There are also 3 different difficulty settings available for the story mode for those who were born with a controller in their hands. I settled for the easiest difficulty and still managed to get Oozi killed a few times (human error).
The sounds are your basic platforming *swoosh* and *boink* but the music deserves extra credit; the soothing beats relax you as you jump around the platforms. This combined with the simple gameplay and relaxed difficulty make this game an excellent stress-reliever (can't say that about Crysis 3 or other modern titles).
The graphics look excellent; bright, cartoonish levels combined with great animations and some subtle graphical effects suit the game like a blaster fits Jazz Jackrabbit's hand. The game also runs on practically any hardware; minimum requirements mention Pentium 4 and a 128MB DirectX 9 capable graphics card. Not bad for a game that looks this gorgeous.
Oozi is a welcome breeze of relaxed gaming in an era that's all about keeping yourself busy and occupied. Relaxed music and gameplay, excellent graphics and fairly low price tag (just under $10) make this game worth every single cent. Especially fans of games like Jazz Jackrabbit and Rayman shouldn't miss it. For novice platform gamers this is a great way to get a glimpse of what gaming used to be, without any hassle and 30+2 buttons to remember. The game is truly a masterpiece when considering it was made by two men. Oh and did I mention it's 2D?