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.
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.
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
Riz-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.