Given that Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros – the most successful interactive outing ever with over 40 million copies sold – is, essentially, the original casual game, it’s surprising that desktop fans haven’t seen more activity on this front.
Thankfully, Realore Studios are hoping to remedy the situation by bringing happy-faced terrapin mascot Ozzy back for more keyboard-mashing fun in upcoming jump-n-run romp Turtle Odyssey 2.
After enjoying extensive hands-on time with the title, we’re thrilled to report that the game’s not only suitable for all ages and skill levels. The optional joystick- and mouse-supporting quest also looks to be one of the most colorful, interesting and engaging arcade experiences in months.
It all begins with an innocent game of catch, as Ozzy accidentally smacks into a slab of ice, cracking it and letting a mysterious creature go free. Intrigued, he follows, unknowingly setting off on the adventure of lifetime, which – as depicted via a lovingly-rendered mission map you’ll traverse one stage at a time – is filled with excitement and wonder.
The setup’s instantly comprehensible, as you simply use your preferred input device of choice (keyboard, mouse, joystick) or any combination thereof to guide our animated hero through side- and vertically-scrolling over/underwater environments. Doing so naturally requires swinging on ropes, riding moving elevators, leaping between rocky outcroppings, hopping between disappearing slabs of bubbles and dodging poisonous flowers. Of course, enemies such as scuttling crabs, flying fish, shifty octopi and slimy snails will also threaten, though they can thankfully be dispatched just by bouncing on their heads.
Starting out with three lives and a set amount of armor – you lose some each time you’re hit, with a life removed if you’re struck while completely vulnerable – you can collect coins and bonuses to replenish these stocks. In fact, exploration is highly encouraged: Each level’s massive in size, and doesn’t just contain collectible goodies like golden bars and chalices. Search high and low and you may find fake walls and hidden niches that lead to secret areas where additional treats such as wealth-laden treasure chests lurk.
Impressively, other common genre staples such as vehicular sequences and battles with end-level “boss” guardians are also offered. One minute you’re bouncing along, admiring the springy sound effects which play upon bashing a baddie’s noggin; the next, mounting a sea horse and leaping past fat little fish and floating thorns. Survive that, and it could be off to a battle with a man-eating clam you go, survivable only by stomping on its shell when the creature suddenly goes to sleep.
That’s not all, either – trophies are also awarded at the end of each stage (completed by collecting five diamonds and reaching the exit door) for meeting certain goals. For example: Gathering all money, finding every secret and killing all monsters on any individual level. There’s even a Wheel of Fortune-style mini-game you can play between missions for extra lives and bonus levels, accessible by collecting lucky stars scattered across each landscape.
Visit the optional lounge-style area, and you can kick back, relax and read up on the plotline – told throughout your travels via hand-drawn storybook sequences – too. Or, for that matter, admire your trophies and look at silly pictures of Ozzy grinning sheepishly in a Santa hat. It’s just another pleasing touch to look forward to from a title that already goes heavy on the sound bytes and background music, not to mention sparkle trail- and glowing light-laden special effects.
Bearing in mind the tale’s present production values, polish and ambition, we predict big things from the game when it finally ships. Whether or not it’ll eventually live up to expectation is anyone’s guess, but so far, so good – we’re definitely psyched to see more of Ozzy and friends in the very near future.