Developed by Manley & Associates and published by SETA Corporation in 1993, The Wizard of Oz on the Super Nintendo is among the worst games ever released for the console.
Don’t believe anyone who says it’s “good”, and certainly don’t believe the reviewer for The Associated Press who alarmingly said that it was “the best film-to-video game adaptation ever” (I wonder how much that reviewer was paid for that quote?)… No, no, NO! The Wizard of Oz is AWFUL and anyone who thinks that it’s “the best film tie-in ever” should be encased in a iron ball and fired at the sun.
Where to start? Well, this poorly-designed and badly implemented platform game – based on the 1939 film – features terrible and unforgiving platform collision detection, infuriatingly difficult gameplay (which eradicates the possibility of the game supposedly being aimed at children), scarce ammunition and no ammo counter, baffling minigames, and a shocking lack of variety. And that’s just for starters…
At the start of the game Dorothy is given a wand by The Good Witch Glinda to guide her to Emerald City. Toto (Dorothy’s dog) is then kidnapped by The Wicked Witch of the West because Dorothy has stolen her ruby slippers. Thus begins one of the most frustrating and baffling gameplay experiences the Super Nintendo has ever seen.
In each stage hazards come thick and fast and quickly eradicate Dorothy’s meagre eight health points. Dorothy must collect yellow bricks as she progresses, but the aim is to reach the end of each level (the goal indicated by a flashing arrow when you reach it). Dorothy’s main defence is a kick, but the range is so short that using it risks damage at every attempt. She can also throw gems at enemies, but they are in short supply and must be collected in each level (and, as mentioned earlier, there’s no indication to tell you how many you have left). The gems are best kept for more difficult encounters and not wasted during regular levels.
Some stages have doors that you can enter to find more yellow bricks, gems, and purple orbs that will replenish Dorothy’s health. Some of these doors lead to dwellings that are a maze of other doors and rooms. Entering one door and exiting another leaves you disoriented; there’s no indication of direction or a possible route; finding your way through a maze of rooms is more down to luck than judgement.
Occasionally on a level you’ll find a bone that you can pick up which will take you to a Toto-based minigame. Some require you to construct a sentence of words by controlling Toto and jumping from letter to letter; some require you to figure out numbers from rolled dice, and there are others, but they’re all pretty uninteresting. If you complete one of these sub-games you get a “ticket piece”, but like most of the things you collect in this game it doesn’t seem to make much sense.
From time to time you’ll encounter a boss battle, and beating the boss will allow one of three companions to join you (the scarecrow, lion, and tin man).
The only positive thing I have to say about The Wizard of Oz is that the graphics and animation are pretty good in places. Even the music in the game is weedy and indistinct and is a criminal waste of the film’s classic score and the Super Nintendo‘s sound capabilities.
The people who made this game – for the most part – really didn’t know what they were doing, and they produced a travesty of a video game in the process. The Wizard of Oz really is a pathetic excuse of a platform game, guaranteed to frustrate and annoy, and I’d only recommend playing it if you’re curious to see how bad it truly is.