Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Adam Riley 07.06.2014

Review for Legends of Oz: Dorothy

It is that time again, folks - movie tie-in time, although in this case Black Lantern Studios has decided that rather than do a generic platform romp based around the feature film of the same name, it would make it into…a Match-3 puzzler! Welcome to Legends of OZ: Dorothy's Return

Here is the official description of the story:

OZ is in trouble again thanks to the evil Jester! Dorothy needs to recruit some new companions to help her make it to the Emerald City. This journey will keep you on the edge of your seat as you try and "dethrone" Jester and restore tranquillity to the kingdom! With new and exciting lands to explore, can you help Dorothy in this match-3 adventure and free the Legends of Oz?

There is no effort to tie the game to the movie, other than including the characters overlaid onto a standard Match-3 engine, in all honesty. Even Dorothy has a sarcastic tone at one point during Legends of OZ. The team working on this clearly knew Match-3 puzzles are nothing at all to do with the setting, so brought some humour along for the ride to try and compensate. At one point, Dorothy is told that a tree has offered to lend itself to be used as a boat, to which she responds 'Lemme guess, he wants me to play a puzzle game with him first, right?' and gets the retort of 'How did you know?!' and simply states, 'Lucky guess. Let's get to it!' Poking a bit of fun at itself is always good to see, as was evident in Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney most recently. Whatever the case, though, what is on offer is a mixed bag, sometimes proving highly addictive and a tad empty and pointless at others.

Screenshot for Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3, unlike many other publications that shun these 'casual' releases, has actually endured more than its fair share of Match-3 efforts, with surprising highs and expected lower than lows, and Legends of OZ: Dorothy's Return sits somewhere in the middle, every now-and-then popping its head up towards the upper sector. First off, this is a pure Match-3 title, rather than the wealth of hybrids out there that mix that style with Hidden Object 'fun' and various other puzzle styles and conundrums. Nowadays, there needs to be a LOT of content to justify a £20 price-point if going down that individual genre route, and with over 30 levels spread across five OZ-themed lands, Dorothy's Return just about scrapes through, with a pleasantly surprising 15 hours sunk in to complete every aspect before the review process commenced! This is mainly thanks to the difficulty level, which slowly creeps up the more players make progress, and the usual addictive nature of these puzzlers in general, of course.

Screenshot for Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return on Nintendo 3DS

Everyone should know the drill by now: switch adjacent tiles on a playing field full to the brim with them in order to make a match of three or more same-coloured blocks in either a horizontal or vertical direction. Keep doing so until whatever objective at hand is complete, usually forming chains to clear things faster, 'chains' being when empty tile spaces are refilled with new tiles and same colours automatically touch as new tiles are drop onto the screen from above. Racking up the most points possible is the key to garner the maximum of three emeralds (the in-game rating system) on each stage, whilst experience is also garnered that helps to level-up each type of tile.

Other usual elements of Match-3 games make an appearance, with there sometimes being specific objects to remove from the board (guide them to the bottom), some tiles that need to be cleared twice before they disappear (normally covered in chains, but here in sticky goo), and a little bit of assistance in the midst of play (special tiles that clear whole lines or objects within a certain radius, orbs that clear all of the same coloured tiles touched, tiles that add more moves or time, and so on). There are eight tile types included, dependent on the world encountered, with yellow owl faces, blue Dorothy dresses and green collars being most prominent. The others that appear less frequently are grey oil cans, brown paw prints, white marshmallows, and pink tea cups, oh and golden feathers to round things off! Each one can be levelled-up five times to make them accrue more points when cleared during a stage, with more experience dished out once a level has been completed. Getting most of them to the highest 'power' is too easy, though, meaning the only major challenge comes when facing a brand new tile style at a new location and even that does not prove too taxing.

Screenshot for Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return on Nintendo 3DS

Sometimes Legends of OZ can get ridiculously easy, with never ending chains, constant colour-removing orbs, extra moves, and so on, making it almost impossible to not complete an objective on a stage - and not once was the 'shuffle' item required during the entirety of the game to mix up the playing field to offer more potential matches (once or twice an auto-shuffle occurred, however, when no moves were left on a board). The team at Black Lantern has tried to gradate the levels of difficulty, introducing roadblocks in the field of play (unmoveable plates, for example), and this works nicely and should have been used more. 'Boss' levels are intriguing, such as one where explosive tiles count down by one each time a set of tiles are moved or flying monkeys that climb to the top of the playing area with each move, with the aim being to clear them away before three reach the top at the same time. If more inventiveness had been used throughout, and maybe alternate shaped fields of play introduced - rather than always just being squares - this could have been something very special indeed.

There are several types of play throughout - four in total - the main ones early on are either against the clock or using a limited amount of moves. Later on, others are introduced, such as Item Sink, where enough tiles must be cleared in order to get special items to the bottom of the screen before running out of moves. In all honesty, after playing through a few stages, the currency used (yellow bricks) for buying helpful items such as 'extra moves' or 'more time' is in abundance, meaning that popping into a stage to check what style it is (timer, limited moves) and then coming back out to buy the appropriate aide before returning again, will become the norm, with no worries about earning more coinage (brickage?) as plenty is doled out for a great performance during the tile matching process.

Finally, on the presentation side, it should be noted that there is the pleasing addition of voice acting from the movie's cast, explaining the story elements as each new chapter is opened up. However, the main chunk of voice work comes in the actual Match-3 puzzles themselves, with the same set phrases repeated ad nauseum, spoiling what was otherwise a great inclusion. The music is also lovely on the ears on some stages, yet certain ones loop too quickly, making them somewhat jarring during longer play sessions.

Screenshot for Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

For just over the £20 mark, at first it may seem like Legends of OZ: Dorothy's Return fails to offer sufficient value for money as early stages are beaten with too much ease. However, this solid Match-3 title has hidden levels of charm and challenge, and with voice acting from the stars of the movie it is based upon, as well as cute representations of the key characters, this will keep the teen audience sufficiently busy…and possibly even their parents!

Developer

Black Lantern

Publisher

Avanquest

Genre

Puzzle

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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