Nobody really aims to hang out with the Muchkins long-term, but once you get used to it in The Wizard of Oz, it’s not that bad.
Let’s face it. Dorothy Gale is a stone-cold killer. She effectively bludgeoned a woman to death with her house, and then melted another down into her component cells. If she’s allowed to run across Oz unsupervised, she will kill again. That’s why you need to play The Wizard of Oz for Facebook. Dorothy will be so busy bossing around the Munchkins and rebuilding the Yellow Brick Road that she’ll forget about her bloodlust. For a time.
Okay, okay. Dorothy is perfectly harmless (It’s Toto you need to keep an eye on), and her new Facebook game is also predictable and friendly. Despite its classic origins, The Wizard of Oz is, in many ways, a typical city-building/resource-collecting social game. Problem is, when we think of the stories of Oz, we think of a long journey on the Yellow Brick Road to meet the Wizard. We don’t think about Dorothy lording over the Munchkins and instructing them to cut down trees and repair the Yellow Brick Road one stone at a time, but that’s what The Wizard of Oz for Facebook gives us.
As soon as Dorothy plops her house on the Wicked Witch of the East, it’s time for you to get to work. You need to build up the Muchkins’ town by clearing land for resources, assembling buildings, starting up businesses, collecting rent, and all the typical tasks that need to be done when conquering a childlike race of people with capitalism.
The Wizard of Oz does offer a welcome twist: Chopping down trees, fishing for food, and mining for ore are done through mini-games. A “Strength” meter slides back and forth, and the working Munchkin swings its axe or pick with varying strength depending on when you click your mouse button. These mini-games aren’t particularly challenging, but they’re a nice alternative to clicking mindlessly on a tree to fell it.
Another interesting game feature is the construction of the Yellow Brick Road. The gold ore that your Munchkin pals dig up for you get fashioned into bricks over time, which are then placed on the truncated Road. Dorothy journeys to the Emerald City via the road and meets the classic cast of characters, but as you might expect from a freemium game based around an Energy System and wait times, it’s a long, long process. Still, it’s good to see a social game with a definite goal in mind beyond “Farm this land…forever.“
The Wizard of Oz‘s production really shines. Your gameplay experience is punctuated with clips from the movie, the classic songs are all in place, and the voice acting is good. The game is powered by Unity and you can view your town from pretty much any angle; there’s even a “Munchkin Cam” that lets you click on an idle Munchkin and see the world through its point of view (hint: It’s very low to the ground). Unfortunately, all these bells and whistles make The Wizard of Oz something of a resource hog. Higher-end computers may run into problems with crashing and stalling, and lower-end computers will just flip out and call it quits as soon as the first video clip begins playing.
The Wizard of Oz is a strange beast. It’s nothing you’d expect from a game based in the merry olde land of Oz, but it’s everything you’d expect from a city-building social title. It’s certainly not a bad example of a city-building game, however, and Oz fans will love the game’s visuals. Give it a go, but if any strange old men invite you into their hot air balloon, call for an adult.