Ancients of Ooga Review

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Ancients of Ooga Publisher: J. Kenworthy Entertainment
Developer: NinjaBee

Platform: Xbox 360
Reviewed on Xbox 360

I've never been so hungry in all my life. That's because if Ancients of Ooga has taught me anything, it's that everything is edible, if you just add enough spices. The Ooganis are fond of eating just about everything, so when a group of hulking Boolis offered them a bunch of intoxicating slugs, the seven tribes of Ooganis happily locked their own chiefs in cages while they tripped. When the Boolis burned the chiefs and enslaved the Ooganis, the Ooganis were too far gone to do anything about it. Finally, enough of the Ooganis have sobered up to summon the Great Spirit of Ooga, capable of possessing individual Ooganis to restore the great chiefs of the tribes and end the reign of the Boolis once and for all.

Kyle Ackerman

Now that I've completed Ancients of Ooga, I'm disappointed. Not in the game, but in the fact that no one seems to be playing it. Many reviewers think that the word is taboo, but Ancients of Ooga is, simply, "FUN." The game makes me smile when I play. Ancients of Ooga's colorful characters and platforming puzzles can lift a dark mood and do what games are supposed to do – entertain.

Assuming that the number of people on the leaderboards are indicative of the number of people who have purchased and played the games, around 5,300 people have bought Ancients of Ooga, while over 280,000 Xbox 360 owners have purchased the more recent Limbo. Yes, Limbo is stylistic, poignant and dark. It's also short, full of gruesome "gotcha" moments and so morose that Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw described it as "... developed by manic depressives for manic depressives." Ancients of Oooga is cheerful, uplifting and chock full of content. Limbo is the dark art house film to Ancients of Oooga's summer popcorn movie. In cinema, art house films don't outsell popcorn flicks 50 to 1, and the same goes for games. That leads me to believe that you simply missed Ancients of Oooga. Certainly, you should play Limbo to experience it, but you should also play Ancients of Oooga, because it's a whole lot of fun.

At its heart, Ancients of Oooga is a comedic platformer, with players jumping, flipping switches and retrieving objects to complete each level, but the game does a marvelous job of varying the activities, throwing in a level where you have to kill a bunch of creatures every once in a while, and here and there sprinkling in racing, organized sports and band-roadie levels. Ancients of Oooga stays engaging across its 55 levels by having you control seven different tribes of Ooganis, each with their own powers introduced over the course of a few levels, and each with a chief sporting a completely different destructive power. That keeps the platforming fresh and interesting over the course of the game, as you strive to free the Ooganis from oppression at the hand of the Boolis.

Ancients of Oooga oozes humorous style without being intrusive. Nearly all plot elements are optional, from the story-telling sequences that evoke a primitive Disney ride through a cave full of drawings, to the ridiculous tasks the Great Spirit of Ooga must complete to foment revolution. A convenient task list means you don't have to pay attention to the Ooganis – but it's worth it to do so anyway. Right down to the characters' bulbous eyes and clever idling animations, the various tribes of Ooganis are expressive like characters in a Pixar film, and equally fun to watch. Since the Ooganis aren't particularly discerning eaters (and can't climb ladders or perform other tasks while holding large objects) they tend to just keep everything – even other Ooganis – in their mouths, puking them out to use, later.

Three more things commend Ancients of Oooga. Completing the levels is straightforward, so that anyone can play the game. But optional collectibles present a formidable challenge. Together, these points make the game both accessible and genuinely replayable. Even better, the entire game can be played co-operatively with two players. It's both fun to complete levels with a gaming friend and a great way to spend time with a gamer of lesser ability (like a young kid) since you can always pick the other character up and carry them through difficult sequences.

I highly recommend Ancients of Oooga and am sorry more people clearly haven't discovered it.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on August 7, 2010 2:36 PM.

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