Ancients of Ooga

The NinjaBee name has become synonymous with inventive titles. Is Ancients of Ooga another slice of clever fun or just another platformer? Well, let me tell you a story. A story of deception, betrayal and… drug-laced slugs? You play the ancient spirit of the Ooganis. They’ve been rather silly and with the help of their enemies are slug junkies. Completely out of their tree, they don’t notice the chief get killed and find themselves enslaved to the powerful but stupid Boolis. Oops! As the spirit you possess various Ooganis that you win over. Your mission is then to solve character swapping puzzles before sacrificing the correct Ooganis at the end (Don’t worry, it’s every Ooganis’ dream to be sacrificed for a greater purpose… apparently).

The game opens with the story of the Oogani demise being told. The cave drawings and basic language used to depict this won me over instantly, as its simplistic charm is a pleasant change. This continues within the games with clear objectives on a map that can be accessed at any time. There’s no unnecessary details on there: just where you’ve been, where you haven’t, your objective points and things needed to complete them. This is made possible as the game runs both vertically and horizontally, allowing each level to be rectangular. With multiple levels and teleporting doors this leaves plenty of hiding places for the inevitable collectibles.

As everyone knows, it’s not sensible to climb up a ladder whilst holding things. The Ooganis have worked around this by chewing everything so it can be swallowed (in order to gain a high score) or puked up when required. Luckily their mouths appear to be the equivalent of Luggage in Discworld as you can fit unlimited objects, and indeed other Ooganis in there to help you out. N.B. If you eat a required item it will respawn so chomp away! In order to swallow certain “ingredients” you need spices. I certainly wouldn’t be seen eaten an unseasoned rock, personally! Spices are the easy to find standard collectible and unless you completely miss an area, should be your regular platforming pickups.

You should make munching your top priority as abilities such as flame breath and hovering can only be obtained through a varied diet. Ancient bones, however, are sneaky little things and with a main achievement for collecting them all, you’ll have to keep your wits about you. The combination of the collectibles, Ooganis saved, ingredients swallowed and number of deaths will net you a percentage that can be looked up in the chapter select. This equates into a score which earns you… well, nothing but achievements and avatar goodies, but that’s blatantly good enough (in case you wondered, you get two gamerpics and two masks for those bad skin days).

Graphically Ancients of Ooga looks very reminiscent of Abe’s Odyssey, etc. With bright colours and everyone looking like a cartoon monster. It feels very much like the classic platformer, with simple basic controls and one button fighting. However, the Ooganis live in seven tribes (don’t try to guess the “elements”, because you really can’t!) and each tribe has specific skills to be learnt. Not surprisingly this start with the basic “water creatures don’t need air” to the more bizarre “stone creatures can bounce around like a concrete bouncy ball”. Unfortunately, with limited camera control, some of the puzzles can become unnecessarily fiddly. Coupled with the clumsy feel of the jump this can sometimes lead to added difficulty for no real reason. The scenery can also be an issue as the static pieces in the foreground can end up blocking what you want or need to see.

For those of you obssessed with trialling everything, you may be caught out. The entire trial is composed of the tutorial levels. This gives you snippets of what’s to come but it does make it seem like it’s incredibly simple and more for the younger gamer. Although the latter part of this may be true, Ancients of Ooga does get more complex. It will never be Braid-esque but it does have its moments. Although it does become more taxing as the game progresses it’s certainly not a substantial puzzler, but then we don’t all want to be scratching our heads in dismay.

The easy to pick up control system means this game is playable by pretty much any gamer, but with each button having multiple functions it can get frustrating. If a button can be used for multiple tasks then standing near one item will prevent you from doing the other action. The most frustating being that B is both “pick up” and “attack” in some cases. if you have just emptied the contents of your mouth you may find yourself surrounded by objects to pick up and put down whilst unable to defend yourself. The radius of this is too large and means unnecessary wanders to swallow as someone was standing next to you etc. Some of this is down to holding the button rather than tapping but this isn’t made particularly clear.

With seven tribes to get through, plus the trial realm and the final realm, you get a lot of game for your money. There’s certainly replay value to get 100%, too. Unfortunately, maybe they shouldn’t have been so generous. The tribe levels follow a formulaic pattern that only has a couple of surprises dropped in. Whilst some gamers may enjoy this I would have preferred less levels to keep the gameplay more riveting. In small doses Ancients of Ooga provides light hearted entertainment for kids and adults alike, but a longer session will find you easily distracted.







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