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"The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road": Nintendo DS Game Review

Jennifer Wilber is a teacher and writer. She holds a B.A. in English and an Associate's in Computer Game Design. She is a life-long gamer.

"The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road" box art

"The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road" box art

The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road is a role-playing video game for the Nintendo DS developed by the Japanese video game developer Media.Vision. It was published by Xseed Games in North America and was released in the region in 2009. It was originally published by D3 Publisher in Japan and released in 2008 as RIZ-ZOAWD. This game is a hidden gem that can be enjoyed by Wizard of Oz fans and RPG fans of all ages. This game is based on the books by L. Frank Baum and is a perfect game for fans of the original book series or movie.

A promotional graphic showing Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion as they appear in "The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road."

A promotional graphic showing Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion as they appear in "The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road."

A promotional image for "The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road," showing off the anime style re-imagining of the the Wizard of Oz for this game.

A promotional image for "The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road," showing off the anime style re-imagining of the the Wizard of Oz for this game.

Plot

The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road begins similarly to the movie, but with anime-style graphics. After being swept away from her home in Kansas by a tornado, Dorothy finds herself in the magical world of Oz. Dorothy, along with the Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Man, whom she meets along her journey, must travel along the yellow brick road to reach the Wizard's castle, where the wizard will grant each their most wanted wish. This is where the similarity to the plot of original version of The Wizard of Oz ends. Throughout their journey, Dorothy and her traveling companions gain new abilities by meeting the elemental spirits and by defeating the dragon masters.

Once you reach Oz's Castle, the wizard will instruct you to travel to different areas of Oz to find magical eggs so that he can take the power away from the four "evil" witches. Once you retrieve the egg in one area and clear the stage, you will be able to proceed to the next stage. Each area represents a different season and you must fight the corresponding witch at the end of the last stage in each season. Each “season” area consists of three stages, with the exception of Winter. Without spoiling the game, there is still more to do to beat the game after retrieving all ten eggs.

A screenshot of the game, featuring Dorothy and Toto.

A screenshot of the game, featuring Dorothy and Toto.

Gameplay

The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road is played entirely by using the Nintendo DS’s touch screen using a stylus. The player moves Dorothy by using a track ball displayed on the screen. Battle commands are also controlled via the touch screen.

Each character has a different affinity, which means that they are each stronger against certain types of enemies. Dorothy is strong against ghost-type enemies. Tin Man is strongest against plant-type enemies. Scarecrow can easily defeat water-type enemies. Shell-type enemies don’t stand a chance against Lion. The affinities do seem a bit random, and many of the monsters can be defeated with just one attack. There are quite a few interesting enemies to battle along your journey.

The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road features a unique combat system. Each of the four party characters can attack based on an allotment of four slots per turn. Dorothy and Scarecrow each use one slot, while Lion uses two, and Tin Man uses three. Because of this, Tin Man can only ever be used once per turn and can never be used in the same round as Lion. Dorothy, Scarecrow, and Lion can be used multiple times per round, as long as the total allotment does not exceed four. Characters who are not used in a particular round are safe from damage, allowing the player to strategically protect a certain character or characters.

Throughout the game, you will return to Oz’s castle often to save the game, ask to be healed, and buy and sell items. After each season area is completed, you will be able to purchase new equipment for each character, including weapons and armor. You can also acquire new equipment from treasure chests throughout the game.

The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road is a fairly short RPG, which should take about 20-23 hours to complete.

A screenshot showing one of the witches who appear in this game.

A screenshot showing one of the witches who appear in this game.

Reception

The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road has received mixed reviews from game critics. It currently has a rating of 69.45% on GameRankings.com and 68/100 on MetaCritic.com. Mark Bozon of IGN gave The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road a rating of 8/10. Bozon commented: "It's great for younger (or casual) players, and it's also a haven for awesome RPG's – seldom is it both at once though...The Wizard of Oz is all about compromise, since the game is literally out to satisfy two very different crowds, it's simple enough for newcomers while still being deep enough for open-minded hardcore players too." He also praised the sole use of the Nintendo DS's touch screen function and the use of the trackball running/walking tool (calling it "catchy").

The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road has gotten some criticism for the plot being radically different from the story they grew up with. Some fans expressed disappointment over this game not closely following the plot of the original novel and movie.

A screenshot showing the Cat Hood enemy from "The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road."

A screenshot showing the Cat Hood enemy from "The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road."

My Takeaway

The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road is insanely easy, but it's still very fun and addictive. I highly recommend this game to gamers of any age or skill level. While this game might not be particularly challenging, you will still have fun playing and will want to continue playing until you beat the game. It is accessible to younger or inexperienced players, but still offers interesting gameplay and an interesting story for more experienced RPG fans.

I highly recommend this game to fans of other RPG series like Dragon Quest and Earthbound, as well as to fans of the Wizard of Oz. Even Wizard of Oz fans with little gaming experience will find this game enjoyable.

© 2018 Jennifer Wilber