I don't think we're in Kansas anymore. What do you get when you take an American classic, add a little anime-style to it, and finish it off with the mechanics of an RPG? You get The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road for Nintendo DS by XSEED Games. When Valkor first told me about it, I was a bit skeptical at first. In fact I thought it sounded stupid. But when I popped it into my DS I have to say, it is not all that bad. It was something I didn't expect, especially when growing up with the Wizard of OZ.
The story of Oz is somewhat of a different spin on the original. Most of the story is somewhat similar except in this story Dorothy lives alone with her dog. You do have the main characters: Dorothy, her dog Toto, the Scarecrow (He's called Strawman in the game), the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man and of course the Wizard himself. The ones you won't see are Auntie Em, Uncle Henry, the Munchkins and Glenda the Good Witch. The game does however, introduces all new characters. Some of the new characters are 4 witches that represent the 4 seasons, the Cat Hoods (servants to these witches) and Father Dragon, who teaches you new abilities. I don't want to give much away, but basically the story here is about Dorothy getting swept away from her home but summoned by the wizard to stop the witches from taking over his castle.
There is only one word I can say about the controls; STYLUS. That's right the buttons are completely useless and everything you do from commands to walking is done with the stylus and touch screen. This means you better have a stylus pen or your touch screen is not messed up or it won't work. And speaking of movement, the way to move your character Dorothy is with a trackball. Whichever direction you move the trackball that is the direction she will move. And the faster you spin it, the faster she goes. There are no random battles since you actually see the enemies on screen so you can easily avoid them if you want.
Now like most RPGs, you actually have the option of naming the main characters. So if you don't like Dorothy you can name her after your ex-girlfriend (although I don't see why I would name her after my ex-girlfriend, although I can name the dog after my ex-girlfriend…) ANYWAY, back on topic! You move around in a 3D world, gain XP from battles and grow stronger. The battle system is turn-based, but if you have played RPGs like Dragon Quest you would noticed that it is first person. The way you attack is based on something called a ratio. Basically you can choose who and how many turns the characters will have per round and the max ratio is 4. An example of this is Dorothy has a ratio of one which means she can attack up to 4 times per round. However the Lion has a ratio of 2 which means he can only attack twice per round. It is a good way to strategize your next move. Oh did I mention in order to gain the other characters you have to fight them first. Just thought I put that in.
The graphics are astounding; It is a complete 3D world, and as I said before the character designs are completely Anime-style (which I love!). I have to say nothing against Judy Garland, but this version of Dorothy looks hot. The Lion walks on 2 legs and looks decent, the Scarecrow, oh sorry, Strawman looks kinda weird. And the Tin Man looks like something from an old Japanese robot cartoon. The Wizard of OZ is nothing but a giant green head with hands and the witches of course are your typical hot looking Anime girls.
I enjoyed the music. It is a mixture of Japanese style video game music with a bit of American sound you would hear in the Wizard of OZ. One thing I can point out is the opening song is in Japanese. The developers really did a good job on the music, placing each song and sound with the right situation; the music actually pulls you into the story. The sound effects are your typical RPG sound effects.
The Wizard of OZ was one of my favorite classic movies, plus I love Anime and RPGs. So putting them all together in one game is what I would have to say is a dream come true. The Japanese works in mysterious ways. Overall I would give it 4.5 out of 5. "Soooooooo, We're off to see the Wizard, The Wonderful Wizard of OZ"…boy that was lame. (Valkor's Note: It was lame… yet oh so fitting)