Written: 2.20.08 Acquired: 7.13.06 Status: Cart only Price: $12
Oscar. It's a game you may not have heard of before, or knew it ever came out on the SNES. Released during the "final Winter" of the system's life in North America, the game arrived with next to zero fanfare. If you stuck it out with your SNES, you definitely weren't going to buy Oscar over Donkey Kong Country 3. Indeed, Oscar was left to reside in obscure pastures... until now. While Oscar isn't anywhere near great, bloody hell, you just might enjoy it
Knock knock. Who's there? Oscar. Oscar who? Oscar out already, damnit!
THE FINAL FO -- THREE
January 17, 2006. On that day I became a "born again" SNES fan. Having burned out on the Sega Saturn, and shockingly listless toward gaming in general, there was but one flame left in the darkness. Nintendo's 16-bit wonder. All my childhood faves. All the classic titles I missed out on. And all the funky little games I had always been curious about, but never did get around to play. Six months later I amassed all the SNES games I ever wanted -- 397 to be precise. There were now only three more games remaining on my want list
These three were damn tough to find, period, let alone finding at my predetermined max. I passed up a complete Mr. Do! for $20 at a flea market in February 2006 which I ended up kicking myself over. And I wasn't willing to plop more than fifty dollars on a cart only Harvest Moon -- all the eBay auctions I hawked ended over $55. As for Oscar, I searched and searched yet never found a copy in seven months. It is truly one of the hardest to find US SNES games
As luck would have it, a reputable board member was going through a quarterlife crisis and decided to sell his entire game collection. He put up Oscar on eBay with a starting price of 99 cents; the first copy I had ever seen on eBay. I didn't want to chance it, knowing the other board members would be interested and watching it, so I offered him to end it early for $12 shipped. Who knows how much it would have ended if I waited it out. Could have been less. A lot less. But the whole situation just felt right
You know something else, having been a part of many different gaming boards since 2001, I've seen more respected, long-time posters say farewell than Ron Jeremy has seen action. Life is funny in a way. It seems every half-year somebody you least expect to "leave" the gaming scene, does. In a corny way, I'm proud to know the previous owner of Oscar was a pretty good bloke. And Chris, if you're reading this somehow, I hope everything's going well for you and with the wife ;)
But I'm getting ahead of myself. I guess it's that whole VH1 Behind the Musicdo-the-end-quickly-then-start-from-the-get-go thing
My brother had an EGM subscription in '96. I know I have spread my fair share of gospel regarding EGM's earlier days but don't get me wrong, I thought it was a quality mag still in the 32-bit era. Of course by now my brother was heavily into the PlayStation and N64. As was I, but to a lesser degree. And unlike my brother, I still cared about my old 16-bit friend, the Super Nintendo, which provided me with so many rich gaming memories that I could never just throw away. By '96, the SNES coverage in EGM was minuscule to say the least, and by late '96? Nearly non-existent. Wasn't their fault, of course. Can't really cover what ISN'T there. You can't blame the game companies for jumping ship to a market much more viable. Darwin's theory... simple as that
Still, I scoured the back pages of each issue that year in hopes to see glimpses of an old friend... see how he's enduring in his final days. A bit morbid, yes, and quite possibly much more lame, but hey, I was 13 and clinging onto an old friend I wasn't ready to let go
But in that spectacularly thick December holiday issue of '96, I needn't look to the back pages. For right in the middle of the mag was a mouth-watering 16-bit special for those few remaining super loyal 16-bit fans
I'll never forget this feature. It was one of EGM's best that year, and it even had an odd retro feel to it in the way they used the colors and fonts as they did. It was fitting, and like watching an old loved one die peacefully in his sleep, it wasn't nearly as bad as the alternatives. Somehow, this spiffy EGM article made my beloved old friend's rite of passage into the afterlife a little easier to bear. It was my friend's final "big" Winter
And as I sat there reading the article by a crackling fire (or not), my eye caught sight of a handful of games I thought, "Hmmm... OK... I know this game ain't great or anything, but damn if they don't look fairly fun and interesting!" ... In that non ground breaking 1993 sort of way, mind you
And of course, Oscar was one of them [I didn't see that coming -Ed.]
What a blast, I thought. Running from movie to movie, just like me and my friends used to. I also thought that was one of those pajama hats Oscar's wearing, like Scrooge McDuck in Mickey's Christmas Carol. So I decided Oscar was not only an aspiring thespian, but that he was also an insomiac. Geez, haha, I was a weird one [Was? Eh? *poke* -Ed.]
Oscar, as you may recall, started out on the Amiga and PC. It wasn't exactly a Mario killer, so you wonder why, from a financial viewpoint, Titus even bothered to release this one in late '96. I once read a rumor, just a rumor mind you, that Saturn Rampage: World Tour only sold a lousy 600 copies. Made me always wondered how many copies did SNES Oscar sell. It saw a limited release if I'm not mistaken, which would explain why it's so damn difficult to find a copy
At any rate, that Winter evening of '96, Oscar left its imprint, but I knew I probably never would play it. Nearly 10 years later, thanks to an old internet buddy leaving the scene, I would finally get my hands on Oscar
Some SNES pundits and connoisseurs may be screaming right now, "1996 was not the final Christmas!" Hey, take it easy. Of course, a trickle (and I do mean a trickle) of games came out for the SNES throughout '97 and even into '98, but '96 was the last great push for our beloved 16-bit systems
Movie-mad Oscar finds himself at the local multiplex with four showings. Instead of watching from the comfort of his seat, the little guy jumps into the silver screen one by one to become the shining star for each movie! Each film has three scenes you must conquer before moving to the next, and you may select the films in any order you wish. Not only are the sets hazardous, but Oscar must perform his own stunts and there are no reshoots. Can you survive the movie marathon madness?
THE MANY FACES OF OSCAR
Oscar just can't stand still for the life of him!
Alright buddy, that's enough. Take it easy now
Kids these days. Obviously somebody missed the "no dumping" sign in the lobby
Even though the fat and cholesterol will clog your arteries, Oscar reminds us a movie just ain't a movie without ye ole jumbo bag o' popcorn
Running time 85 minutes. Rated PG
Initially, your only line of offense is by hopping on the head of the bad guys. That little blue disc up top is a film canister
They contain points, icons and such
"Hire me! I'm the man for the job, daddy-o!"
The goal is to locate the predetermined number of oscars on each level. Some are out in the wide open while others, as you probably guessed, are a bit more difficult to find
Oscar will say "THANKS EVERYBODY!" every time you grab one
Once all the oscars have been collected, locate the clapperboard to exit the level. Upon doing so, you'll hear a strange, creepy voice scream, "AND CUT!"
Remember Radical Rex?
Oscar takes a quick break to pose right outside Fred Flintstone's crib
Photogenic little fella, eh?
Back to serious matters. In each stage there's a yoyo hidden inside one of the bajillion film canisters. Finding it will make your life much easier. But can you find it in each stage? Some are rather tricky...
The yoyo completely changes the dynamic of the game. Suddenly, Oscar becomes an offensive force of nature. The yoyo can kill baddies straight away
It also does a number diagonally! This comes in handy as you can knock off unsuspecting foes from different tiers! Simple and plain as day, but absolutely ace
Last but not least, it can be flung upwards. As you can imagine, the yoyo makes Oscar a much easier game. You can still complete the levels without the yoyo, but the floaty jumps and fast-moving baddies are difficult to time properly. The trick is finding the yoyo in each stage. Once found, it is yours to keep for that level. You start from scratch on each new stage. Sometimes the yoyo is hidden near the beginning. Other times you'll have to claw and dig to find the damn thing. It's just a shame that the yoyo does not operate as a grappler. A little Bionic Commando action in Oscar wouldn't have hurt its appeal, no doubt
Oscar has two components. The first, where you begin each stage without the yoyo, you're erring more on the defensive side. But once you have found the yoyo, the second part of the game kicks in where suddenly you're more aggressive and playing with an offensive mindset. With the levels designed the way they are, I found this two part element to work pretty well
Not everything inside film canisters are good for Oscar. F'rinstance this green potion temporarily strips Oscar of his yoyo (if you've found it) and turns him invisible! You have to wait until it wears off, if you are smart. Best to avoid it, but sometimes in the heat of battle it's easier said than done...
Lasts a good 25, 30 seconds... Kevin Bacon rolling over in his grave!
ZOINKS! DON'T FALL NOW, OSCAR! Best "oooh, oooh, no!" animation ever [Not -Ed.]
He's a quick little thing who can pick up a lot of speed in no time flat. But you only 3 hearts to work with, so avoid running unless you absolutely need to
Indeed. Plus lots of goodies lurking under the surface
Oscar, a diehard fan of Jim Henson's old family show DINOSAURS, pays homage to Sherman Helmsley's former character
"SINCLAAAAAIR! Er, I mean, OSCAAAAR!"
Running time: 91 minutes. Rated PG-13
It's OK, Oscar, you're not the only one..
Actually, come to think of it, yeah, I kinda do
Flair Software failed to snag the rights to Leatherface, so they had to settle for just his chainsaw instead
Yes, true story
Oscar might be a rodent but the dude is practically an amphibian. Unfortunately he finds himself cornered here. How do you pass the blocks?
That's how! Yeah, boy!
Indeed, not just a baddie killer, but a block destroyer too!
Plenty of goods to be found underwater. The various icons match the film's theme and tone. Nice
*cue tires screeching sound effect*
Yeah, and the spider's ugly, too
Frankies, witches and gargoyles... OH MY!
Warning: Oscar may be too dramatic for some
You're about to bear witness to perhaps the most memorable feature from Oscar... the Game Boy icon! What exactly does it do? Well, observe..
WHOA MAMA! Truly bizarre but completely harmless icon, this prop imbues foreground objects with strangely familiar shades of pale green! The effect is temporary and good for a few laughs... although Oscar here does not find it particularly amusing one iota!
Even in the face of danger, Oscar always manage to keep his cool, as well as his sense of humor. God Bless that bloke
[Huh? In English, please -Ed.]
Whew... that was a close call!
There he goes again... making the best out of a bad situation... gotta love his spirit
In each stage there are five letters hidden within the film canisters. These five letters when collected spell out BONUS. If you are successful in finding and grabbing all five, at level's end you'll be transported to a bonus stage. There you will want to collect all the goodies you can within the alloted time
AISH! It's an icon overload in these bonus worlds
The exit is actually a bit reminiscent of the original Sonic. In the later bonus stages, the exits are more frequent and easier to accidentally touch, thus abruptly ending your collect-athon quest. Kinda like Sonic's, eh? Hmmm...
Speaking of the elephant thingie, in the regular stages they serve as a continuing point. Should you die, if you came across one of these handy guys, you will start the level there. It should be noted when you restart a level, any oscars you have already found remain intact. However, if you had the yoyo it is now gone and you must recollect it. (The film canisters all resurrect). Enemies as well, but they operate much like the baddies in the MegaMan games. Screen scrolls a bit? Damn, they're back. So it's a bit of a moot point, eh? So yeah, everything is back, except the oscars you have already procured. Not a bad gig
The best thing about the elephant markers, other than their usefulness of course, is the weird sound it makes when you touch it. Mmm, trust me, you'll have to hear it for yourself
Running time: 87 minutes. Rated G
The look of this world reminds me of "POKO NYAN!"
Careful. These gnomes are real nimble suckers. They zip along like they're skating on ice, and it's real easy to lose a heart to these gits
Oh no! Blocked by this blasted barrier. How will we ever get to those tantalizing goodies?
Of course, the good ole yoyo. Like your Mastercard, never leave home without it
Almost. Hey, it's a cutthroat world out there, don't feel sorry for any baddie, no matter how cute. This little guy only takes one hit. His friends can withstand 2 or 3
"Hey, what's the big idea?"
"Come here, Oscar!"
"THE HELL I AM!"
"Get back here you little rascal! Listen, we can do this the easy way, but I guess you want to do it the HARD WAY..."
"No, you listen to me. I'm warning ya, better stop following me or else..."
"Or else WHAT, hmm?"
"Or else I'm gonna show the whole world just who has the biggest package!"
"Damn... I hate it when plans backfire..."
Thankfully, only temporarily
The various numerous icons scattered about merely serve as point bonuses. It's only necessary to find and grab the oscars, but nabbing the icons are fun -- the random trail of yellow stars it leaves behind is an interesting sight. By the way, those weird face houses are a bit Wizard of Oz-zy, or better yet, Alice in Wonderland-esque
OOPS! Visual eff-up. It's almost coming out his eye! You know, this must be a pretty cool trick to have up your sleeve. You'd be a hit at Birthday parties, for one. And it would certainly serve more than just as a sight gag. How awesome would life be if whenever someone pissed us off, we could just shoot forth a metal ball yoyo out of our freaking face at the offender? The world would be a much better place, I tells ya
[Note: RVG does not condone hitting people with metal balls... or any balls for that matter. These views reflect and only reflect the writer... who I'll have to remember to fire after this review -Ed.]
The sign warns you to look out for falling boulders but oddly, there are none.Hmmph
That's definitely no invincible Mario star powerup! Make sure you have the yoyo before entering the murky waters. Very tough to head-bop here
Platforming rules #1-500 are present in Oscar
It really does. With the yoyo you become more of a hunter, as opposed to being the hunted. Besides, who doesn't enjoy picking off walking dill pickles from high above?
This is also temporary, but a good prop to grab. If you have the yoyo it replaces that. Once it wears off, the yoyo returns. It's the same way with any other prop, sans Game Boy
This is a bit of a weird powerup, common in games, yes, but how it looks is just weird. But maybe that's just me. Anyway, wings don't come by often, and when you find them it usually means there are oscars hiding in very high places. Better grab them all before the powerup wears off...
Platforming rule #487 says... there MUST be a falling bridge somewhere... ahha, there it is
Running time: 101 minutes. Rated R!
See? I wasn't kidding! Rated-R, all right. A bit disturbing, wouldn't you agree? If you stare long enough they look like -- [SNIP -Ed.]
Oscar's reaction says it all... sheeeesh!
Back to serious matters. The Western world is packed with these orange sharp things that pop up randomly, so tread softly
... Oscar stops at nothing to make it out of the wild west alive!
Watch out for these gun slingers who have a tendency to hide in sneaky places. So while Oscar does possess Sonic-like speed, you'll want to go at roughly the same rate as the fat boys in NES Ice Hockey
Boys and girls, have your parents ever told you if you made a funny face long enough, that it'll be stuck that way? Observe... exhibit A!
Too close! Remember, fat dudes from NES Ice Hockey!
.... YOU CAN DOOOOO IT!
Told 'cha it was rated R!
"15 oscars to go?!? Man, who's crampin' my style?! I'm watching you, buddy!"
Oh stop it, Oscar. You prima donna, you
The wild west is home to some excellent, authentic set pieces. Gotta love those skulls!
"Look buddy, there's no button to make me hang myself... so quit it!"
"I ain't going there, either. So you better just move along"
"Aren't we suppose to be rivals?"
"Why I reckon so, but I just can't bring myself to hurtin' ya"
"And why's that?"
"You remind me so much of my son's 4th Birthday party; when I took the little thing to Chuck E. Cheeses"
Grab that shield! As you guessed, it grants Oscar temporary invincibility. Now you can really zip through the level to your heart's content
"Hmmm... should I get a haircut at the barber? Naw, I don't need to trim my sexy locks. Well, it's off to the bank I go, then. On second thought, maybe I'll just stare at some ass"
"What, you again!"
"Well howdy, partna!"
In one particular stage in the west, the BONUS letters are all next to one another. If you're smart, you'll take 'em one at a time
Or, if you're like me, you'll have to high tail it! See, stay in school, kids
After all four movies are completed, that's 12 stages in all for those counting at home, you're done! No other worlds to conquer, no final big boss, nada. That's it, you're finished. All that's left is heading over to the exit
See you in the sequel... or not
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Er, not much! Super Play folded by the time Oscar was released. Meanwhile, EGM and GameFan were busy covering the 32-bit titles and didn't bother to review it. Like I said earlier, since it arrived late in the Super Nintendo's life, it was met with very little fanfare
One of the truly awesome things about this hobby is the ability for us older cats to buy and play the games we missed out on back in the day. Whether the box art always had you mesmerized, or that tiny little half-page preview in a game magazine... there's always those games you never got around to play. Nearly ten years after seeing Oscar in the vaunted pages of EGM, I was finally able to put those "How does it play?" thoughts to rest. Truth be told, I was extremely let down. In fact, it's not too much to say I even hated it. A while later, after I adjusted my expectations, I gave the game a second chance. Going through all 12 stages in a little over an hour, I'll be damned, Oscar grew on me. No, it isn't what I'd call a 'good' game, not by a long shot. But, it can be oddly enjoyable at times, and the quirks about it, from Oscar himself to the level design, give it a strange appeal in a way I can't quite put my finger on. The game does suffer from touchy controls, and at first you may suffer some motion sickness, but if you bother to play on, you might find some merit within the game. I would not recommend it, however. It's not worth looking into unless you are a serious SNES fanatic who loves his (or her) platform games, as I do. There are much better action games worth your time and exploration
Having said that, if you have played them all, and you find these "collect-athon" platform games entertaining, then hey, what the hell. As long as you come in with no lofty expectations, there are some decent attributes within Oscar to pluck some enjoyment from. I particularly liked how each level begins with you having a more defensive mindset, as jumping on baddies' heads may leave you wide open if mis-timed. You'll find yourself foregoing all that as you make a mad dash about the level, opening all the film canisters you can, hoping to find that magic yoyo. Once you do, it's game on. In an instance, you go from the hunted to the hunter. Maybe it's just me, but that "transformation" in each stage is pretty damn cool
Graphically it's a bit disappointing. Although a '93 game at heart, I expected much better visuals. The levels vary -- there are some cool looking bits but some really odd color schemes as well. The baddies are poorly animated and rigid; bordering on lifeless. Not the kind of visual quality you'd expect from your Super Nintendo. But all in all, average
Soundwise it's pretty forgettable. The tunes are nothing to write home about, although I did enjoy the cartoon theme somewhat. But for the most part, it's below average. The sound effects fare a bit better than did the music. I love hearing "THANKS EVERYBODY!" every time you nab an oscar. It frighteningly resembles Dr. Nick's infamous "HI EVERYBODY!" (from The Simpsons)
The game is a bit herky jerky. Oscar is a bit of a touchy fella. If you've played Bubsy, then you know what I mean. The levels aren't huge, and you'll search high and low for the missing oscars. It's kind of like playing a hide-and-seek game a little bit. There are no bosses at all, which to me is a bit lame. Certainly left me feeling a little bit hollow upon completion
In the end, I'm glad I gave Oscar a second chance. It's really not that bad... but it's not going to make any top games list ever, either. But that's OK, because not every game can be as epic as Super Mario World. Many simply serve as niche titles, games that you may consider buying and playing once the rest have been taken care of. Oscar fits into that group. It's not great, it's not good, but it isn't "bad," either. It's got a weird atmosphere that may well grow on you as you work out the kinks. And if for nothing else, stuff like the Game Boy prop and the Show Girls set piece, will leave a smile on your face. The game has definitely got a good amount of humor. Oscar is a perfect example of what I'd call a "guilty pleasure"