Riz-Zoawd: We’re Off To See The Wizard

By Spencer . January 8, 2009 . 2:38pm

image The Wizard of Oz begins with Dorothy in Kansas before getting whisked off to the Land of Oz. Riz-Zoawd cuts to the chase. After you name Dorothy and Toto you start the game on the Yellow Brick Road. Dorothy’s fate is told by a virtual storybook. Most of the story scenes at the beginning are told with the same faux picture book that you can casually flip through.

 

Riz-Zoawd has an unorthodox control scheme you move Dorothy by “spinning” a trackball on the touch screen. And by “spinning” I mean you rapidly swipe the stylus to make Dorothy run. I’m impatient when it comes to walking in RPGs. I love the dashing and I always equip Sprint Shoes on a characters in Final Fantasy III (the SNES version doesn’t have auto dash) even though they’re useless in combat. When I started Riz-Zoawd I rapidly “spun” the trackball to make Dorothy run. This was a bit annoying because once Dorothy starts running she’s difficult to control. Making Dorothy turn 90 degrees while running at full speed is like making a car turn 90 degrees while driving 100 miles an hour. Curse you inertia! Fortunately, the Yellow Brick Road was nearly a straight line. (Capitalism is a straight path?) Dorothy rarely had to turn and the actual road is narrow with invisible bumpers. It’s almost as if Dorothy was on rails and you controlled the speed she ran.

 

Actually, Media Vision could have designed Riz-Zoawd as an on rails game where you automatically run from one crystal to the next. The only things you need to slow down or speed up for are floating coins, the currency of Oz, and enemies, respectively. All of the fights are visible and avoidable if you can control Dorothy.

 

rizg Riz-Zoawd’s combat system is similar to Dragon Quest with a strategic twist. Before you and emerald colored ghosts exchange blows you pick four moves in a row. You can make Dorothy fight four times or use a healing item, then fight for the next three turns. Whatever, it’s your choice. Once you make your move the decision is locked and you watch the battle play out.

 

In the first fifteen minutes you run into Scarecrow, but he doesn’t join your right away. You have to beat him to a pulp first and then he joins your party. The same thing happens with the Cowardly Lion simply called “Lion” in Riz-Zoawd and the Tin Man. Yes, the characters are out of order compared to the source material, but I’ll overlook that since Frank Baum’s book didn’t have Dorothy fighting crabs either.

 

After I got all of the party members I got a better feel for Riz-Zoawd’s ratio system. Each turn you have four ratio points. Dorothy and Scarecrow take up one point per turn so you can have four attacks if you only use them. The Lion uses two ratio points and the clunky Tin Man consumes three for each attack. You can’t make the Tin Man attack twice in one round. Why would you want to use the Tin Man then? Riz-Zoawd also has a rocks-paper-scissors-like system where Dorothy’s Oz defense force are effective against specific kinds of monsters.

 

rizrock

This screenshot summarizes the system nicely. Dorothy is a Ghostbuster. Scarecrow sops up water creatures like the pictured walking jellyfish. Lion crushes giant enemy crabs and the Tin Man lays waste to plant creatures with his axe. In the first area Riz-Zoawd throws combinations that you can usually beat in one round if you pick the right combination. I never found myself fighting three acorn men, but I often fought with one acorn creature and a ghost. Winning this fight is easy. Allocate three of the ratio points to use Tin Man once and the remaining ratio point for Dorothy

 

imageRiz-Zoawd has an RPG combat for dummies system that automatically picks the right enemy (Dorothy/ghosts, Lion/crab, etc.) so you don’t need to guess what kind of enemy you’re facing. Also, if someone in your party is low on HP Riz-Zoawd automatically sets the first command to heal them. You aren’t locked into healing, but you have to change the command manually. I think this system is something RPG vets are going to wrestle with because sometimes you don’t want to heal your party. If Lion is low on HP and he isn’t making fighting he won’t take any damage which means you don’t need to heal him until you use him.

 

After fighting more ghosts and opening a few floating treasure chests I ended up in the palace. Hello, floating head of Oz.

 

Images courtesy of D3 Publisher.



  • Chuck

    Hey hey, Thanks for the impressions. For my playing knowledge, what level would you put the Japanese at? typical DS rpg with rather easy language? or is this aimed more at someone with high school/adult reading skills?

  • Spencer

    @Chuck – Well if you don’t care about the story I think you can get through it. It’s not a deep plot and the rocks/Dorothy/Ghost system makes combat a breeze. In fact you can just coast by letting the game automatically select commands. But, I tend to think this will get a US release one way or another. The production values in Riz-Zoawd are high.

  • Aoshi00

    While the track ball running is sort of innovative, I don’t like it too much especially making sharp turns, or just simply turning Dorothy around. It’s best to put down the DS on the desk, otherwise swiping w/ the stylus continuously gets a little tiring.

    Also money is pretty hard to come by unless you clear a stage, so lots of grinding is needed in order to save enough coins just to equip your party w/ the right armors and weapons, which is essential in facing more powerful enemies and the boss. At the beginning I mostly used Dorothy and Scarecrow because Lion and Tin Man’s defense is too low. Things get better after you learn the magic command though.

    I finished the spring world and am at the summer palace now. This game has a charming look, but the battles feel quite repetitive and sometimes I just don’t feel like grinding in order to progress, I have put down the game for 2 weeks now.. Perhaps it’s because I’m not familiar w/ the details of Wizard of Oz other than the basic premise.

    My main qualm is the 4 main characters don’t interact w/ each other, they don’t have any dialogue among themselves, so it’s hard to care for them. The story isn’t gripping enough that I can’t stop playing.

  • lostinblue

    I want this one, the controls don’t convince me and I’m sad that they aren’t more tight judging from the impressions but I still want.

  • Spencer

    @Aoshi00 – Ah, putting the DS down on the table is better. It feels weird not holding the DS, but it works. Thanks for the tip!

    Yeah I see what you mean about the characters too, but it’s as if Riz-Zoawd isn’t a full blown RPG. It’s like a playable light novel with turn based RPG combat.

  • Aoshi00

    @Spencer – no prob, I discover you can make Dorothy run more precisely if you don’t need to hold the DS w/ the other hand, like dodging monsters at your whim. ASH plays better this way too.

    Riz-zoawd has excellent graphics and an interesting battle system, w/ a Sakimoto Hitoshi (FF12, Odin Sphere, ASH) soundtrack to boot. but it feels repetitive after a while, plus the need to grind to earn coins. I guess a better story would make me more willing to keep playing till the end, w/o feeling like a chore.

    The battle theme sounds like DQ, really gets me pumped :)

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