Oozi: Earth Adventure is a platform title about an intergalactic courier named Oozi. At a glance, it looks like something you would expect from a SEGA Mega-Drive – 2D platform games were, after all, extremely popular back then. Oozi: Earth Adventure’s gameplay is certainly just as unforgiving as the platform titles of that era, with hazards that kill you in an instant – or, at the very least, knock a third of your health off.
The story goes that titular character Oozi has crash-landed on earth and must find his spaceship before succumbing to one of the many animals and environmental hazards. Oozi is your typical platform game hero; including a generic move set: slide, double-jump, wall-jump - no surprises here. On the enemy front; they move in set patterns, bosses characters included.
As you progress in the story, you unlock new abilities (new parts of Oozi’s space suit) to tackle the increasingly difficult challenges; you will be able to use said abilities in the corresponding arcade and challenge levels.
Despite this, the gameplay can be frustrating - even in normal difficulty - and you can’t switch difficulties mid-game so it’s advisable to play through on easy at first to unlock the arcade and challenge modes. The frustration comes in the form of cheap hazards, such as zigzagging slopes to climb up while spiked balls roll down them. Fortunately, the easy mode is far more forgiving than normal or hardcore – it's almost too easy. There are four worlds packed with five levels. However, there’s little variation in the gameplay as, regardless of world, you will encounter virtually the same hazards and creatures - albeit re-coloured to suit the environment.
As with most platform games, you have the token item collection. In this case, there are hundreds of stars that build up your score, while collecting five ‘hidden’ stars unlock bonus challenges. Although finding the latter is a trivial matter at best, as paths leading to them aren’t hidden well and they're often tucked away in a room with nothing disguising the entrance. Should you feel the need to tackle the challenge or arcade mode as soon as you unlock it, the game auto-saves between levels, so you at least have the option of taking a break from the story mode.
The challenge levels are unique (in that they aren’t recycled story levels), with goals - such as killing every enemy, or collecting all of the stars - within a time limit and on only one life. It’s not often an indie developer puts unique levels into a minor mode, usually opting to use the story mode’s levels. That said, surprise, surprise, the arcade mode reuses those. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however. The arcade mode is a challenging race against the clock, and you’re doing it for a high score - don’t worry about the clock too much though, you get extensions every time you pass a save point.
Visually, Oozi: Earth Adventure looks sharp and bright. The world themes include clichés such as forest, subterranean, and laboratory. While bright and appealing, they can also work to your disadvantage as hazards - such as falling stalactites - often sneak up on you. Although they glow (to make them stick out), there are plenty of harmless glowing plants scattered about to throw you off.
Overall, Oozi: Earth Adventure is a nice little throwback to 16 bit gaming. The predictability of enemies may make this a walk in the park, however ramping up the difficulty to max provide a decent - often frustrating - challenge.