Oscar logo

Already available in CD32 and AGA versions, Oscar looks set to battle the baddies - and the critics - one more time with this standard Amiga incarnation.

Based on the highly-successful Trolls game engine, Oscar AGA was a severe disappointment. Flair's graphic artists obviously went berserk with the paint palettes and dressed what was a reasonably good platformer in the kind of dayglo clothes last seen at hippie gigs on Three Mile Island.

This is better. With the colour scheme limited to 32 colours, Oscar emerges from the psychedelic credentials intact. There are seven themed worlds to explore, each with three levels of movie-related mayhem.

The aim of the game is to collect a certain number of Oscar statuettes on each level before moving on to the next. To help you, Oscar has a yo-yo for certain sections which he can use to break down walls or swing across chasms and there are the usual bonuses and baddies to deal with on the way.

Oscar is by no means up to Zool 2's extremely high standards - there are simply too many flaws, such as dodgy edge detection for that - but this standard version marks a distinct improvement over its more colourful cousin. Less is more, as they say.

Oscar AGA logo AGA

You can run but you can't hide. And there's no escaping the fact that cutesy characters sell game platforms. Sega and Nintendo would be nothing without Sonic or Mario. So it's no surprise Commodore have joined the fray by bundling Oscar with the A1200.

Oscar is Trolls' mutant offspring. The wirey-haired dwarves from last year's surprise platform ht have been replaced by a mean-looking dude with ego-maniacal tendencies. In fact, he loves himself so much, he spends his time hanging around cinemas trying to find bronze effigies of himself.

The first thing you notice about Oscar is how similar it is to Trolls. Both games feature seven themed worlds, exquisite graphics, heaps of ferocious nasties and a friendly elephant who helps you when you die. They also share an identical bonus system where you collect a series of letters to get to the extra levels.

But the similarities end there. Where Trolls was derivative but fun, Oscar is an uninspired slog. You have to plough through levels after level of platforms, collecting goodies and battling baddies without really feeling there's any point to it all.

Nasty habit
Once you've stopped marvelling at the parallax scrolling and groovy animation, you quickly find yourself motoring along on autopilot, not really thinking about what you're doing.

The only time Oscar actually makes you sit up and notice is when something goes wrong - even on the easy levels the baddies are hard to kill without sapping your energy and they have a nasty habit of reappearing at the most inopportune moments. Worse still, the backgrounds are so overwhelmingly jazzy, it is much too difficult to see where your antagonists are coming from half of the time.

Even more unforgivable though, is the pixel perfect precision that is required when leaping from platform to platform. Just one twitch of the joystick too many and the long haul to the top of the screen ends in complete disaster and you either end up at the bottom being harassed by those hard-to-beat nasties again, or you plunge to a certain, death.

Your life-saving yo-yo isn't exactly an awful lot use either, in fact, you waste more lives trying to get the pesky thing to work than if you just carried on playing the game without it.

It should have been so easy to like Oscar. It looks fantastic - the graphics, animation and parallax scrolling are all extremely snog-worthy - but it's a bit like climbing inside a jag XJ220 and finding fluffy dice hanging from the driver's mirror. The idea's better than the execution.

Oscar AGA logo AGA A1200 Speziell

Wurde ja wirklich zeit, daß unser Chefredakteur mal mit einem Game seines Namens geadelt wird - passenderweise läuft die Plattform-Arie nur auf edlen 1200ern und handelt von ausgestorbenen Urviechern!

Okay, wir geben es ja zu: Unser Oskar scheibt sich anders und überhaupt hat diese Hüpfical viel mehr mit Stephen Spielbergs "Jurassic Park" als mit unserem Redaktions-Terminator zu tun.

Noch ehe Ocean das offizielle Spiel zum Film vom Stapel läßt, sind die Jungs von Flair Software nämlich auf den Zug der Zeit aufgesprungen und eröffnen einen digitalen Dino-Park, in dem die begehrten Filmauszeichnungen einzusammeln sind...

Per Stick steuert man einen entzückend gezeichneten Knirps durch multidirektional scrollende Levels, um im bunten Vergnügungspark voller Urechsen jene Oscars aufzuklauben, von denen Mr. Spielberg gar nicht genug bekommen kann. Sind all die Teilweise gut versteckten Trophäen im Sack, muß nur noch der Ausgang erreicht werden - freilich ohne zuvor einem Saurier zum Opfer zu fallen. Und das ist schon deshalb kein Zuckerschlecken, weil die Dinos nur durch einem mehrfachen Hopser zu beseitigen sind und der Existenzkampf hier am Boden, zu Wasser und in der Luft tobt.

Die wolkigen Gefilde werden dabei von großen Flugechsen und kaum erkennbaren Minidrachen beherrscht, während die diversen Fische und Quallen im feuchten Element zwar nicht ganz so urig aussehen wie ihre erdverbundenen Kollegen, jedoch nicht minder gefährlich sind.

Kurz und gut, man ist dankbar für die allerorten bereitliegenden Extras bzw. die damit verbundenen Spezialfähigkeiten. Das wichtigste Utensil ist ein Jojo, leistet doch zum Saurier-Klatschen ebensogute Dienste wie zum Zertrümmern hinderlicher Wände; ja, sogar als kletterseil ist das Teil zu gebrauchen.

Ebenfalls sehr nützlich sind einzusammelnde Flügel, die für zeitlich begrenzte Flugfähigkeit sorgen. Und die übliche Plattform-Kost wie Zusatzleben oder Bonuspunkte ist ohnehin nie verkehrt, denn bei diesem Spiel ist das, obwohl die nett animierten Gegner meist nur stereotyp auf vorgegebenen Bahnen herumträmpeln. Neben dem Umwelt-Zoo hat man nämlich auch mit einer etwas durchwachsenen Steuerung zu kämpfen - wer sich beim Monstersprung nur ein paar Milimeter verschätzt, kann sich in der Sekunde von einem vier Bildschirmleben verabschieden!

Wäre doch schade, schließlich ist die Grafik umwerfend detailliert und gagreich gestaltet (Dinos in Unterwäsche!) , das Parallax-Scrolling klappt soft, und die fetzige Musik tröstet locker über die fehlenden Effekte unseres Testmusters hinweg. Kein Wunder, handelt es sich bei Oscar doch um jenes Spiel, das jedem neuen CD beiliegen soll - an der CD-Version mit Mega-Intro, neuen 3D-Effekten und zwei zusätzlichen Levels wird aber noch gestrickt.

Egal, denn auch mit vorliegender 1200er-Variante hat die Dinomania am Monitor einen vorläufigen Höhepunkt erreicht; selbst wenn es bei Oscar nicht ganz für einen Oscar langt... (md)

Oscar AGA logo AGA

The Amiga equivalent of Sonic? Yeah, right.

Here's a curious tale, and one that's strangely relevant to one of this month's releases. Having spent a happy few years occasionally going to college in Bournemouth, I decided to don my mirrored shades and gun my Harley Davidson Fatboy down to the south coast. For a bit of entertainment, I dropped into the Tower Park leisure complex and found myself faced by a bewildering array of movies at the fine multiplex cinema that lurks there.

Spoiled for choice, I was eagerly scanning the large display, when I noticed a small fluffy creature lurking in the shadows. This was strange as I'd just seen that Disney's Winnie The Pooh was in a late-night triple bill (along with Troma's Surf Nazis must Die! And Dario Argento's Zombie Apocalypse) and for a moment I thought I'd forgotten to take my medication and was once again mistaking hallucinations for reality.

Rubbing my eyes, I looked again, and there really was a creature of uncertain origin and undeniable cuteness nibbling some discarded popcorn behind one of those big chrome bins. He looked up and saw that I was looking at him, and with a wry grin, waved me over. Resolving to get to the bottom of this mystery, I crammed into the gap behind the hin.

"Hi, I'm Oscar," he chirped, sounding like one of the Chipmunks who'd gone through puberty. "You're going to find the next hour terribly exciting, because not only are you the best-looking, healthy young man in this cinema (Oh dear. - Ed) but you're also into computer games, I know. I've come straight from the offices of Flair, and they've announced that I'm going to be THE game of the year. Put these on quickly."

Out of his magic pocket, he produced a set of faded jeans and a cowboy hat, and I was midway through changing into them when a security guard appeared and started to threaten me with a charge of indecent exposure, but Oscar saved the day.

"Woop, woop, you can try but there's no catching me. Heh, heh, I'm the cheeky young scamp Oscar. Weeeee!" he trilled, grabbing me by the collar and yanking me off my feet with more strength than I'd generally attribute to a two-foot rodent. As I flapped behind this spiky-haired critter like a poorly constructed kite, I thought it would be a great time to question his motives.

"I'm featuring in the first game to use the A1200's F-Mode, so my 16-colour dual playfields give a greater depth of hue to the background screen. Hah hah, with over 100 colours on screen at any one time and seven film worlds, I'm going to be a sure-fire hit. Here we go!" And with that we dived into one of the cinemas, where the strangest thing happened. We were suddenly in the film, which happened to be a Western. And then my heart sank.

"Hold on a moment," I said, "This is a platform game."
"Right on the button!" squealed Oscar. "I've got to dash around collecting little Oscar trophies before finding the clapperboard and zapping out. Once I've completed a level, I can go through a bonus door and go into another level. And look, hidden in that film can is a yo-yo that lets me smash walls and bad guys and swing from platforms. Wahey!"

"Well, all you need is a big red elephant as a restart point,and you'd be just like Flair's groovy and sickly- sweet platformer Trolls." I commented sarcastically, jumping on the head of a cowboy three times amidst a shower of pretty stars and watching him plummet off the ledge.

"You mean like this big red elephant," giggled Oscar as we ran past a suitably scarlet pachyderm, "I've got those as well, Nim nim!"
"And like Trolls, you've got themed levels as well, I suppose," I queried, simultaneously picking up a pair of trainers that allowed me to run faster and pushing my investigative journo talent to the limit.
"Indeed I have. They're all based on movies and TV, with a sci-fi level, a horror level, and get this - there's a war movie level that's (giggle) actually in black and white! Pretty wild stuff, huh?"
"Just like the black-and-white newspaper world in Trolls?" I fired back.

Before he could reply, we passed the clapperboard and reappeared outside the cinema, where a perfectly tailored silver suit and microphone were waiting for me. I quickly changed and then we were off into the game show land, were we carried on doing exactly what we were doing before.

Trolls A1200 was a much better game

"So let's get this straight in my mind - just like Trolls, you've got a yo-yo."
"That's right, but look how pretty everything is, look at the pretty backgrounds."
"Quite, and like Trolls, you leap around themed levels collecting objects before finding an escape route, and... Oof!"

Something hit me and sent me sprawling. I peered into the mass of colour but couldn't see anything apart from a small question mark. Turning round, I was hit again. Oscar shouted to look out for the pogo stick, but it was so hard to distinguish between the foreground and the background that I was smashed about a few more times until Oscar whacked it with his yo-yo.

"I'm a little offended that you're making all these Trolls references," he moaned, "because the troll was a bit of a childish character immortalised by numerous revolting plastic toys, whereas I'm a bit of a tough guy, although you can't help but love me. See, I dress up in different costumes for each level and everything. Although i'm obviously a furry mammal of some sort, you can't quite work out which, but I'd look great on sports bags and T-shirts. I'm going to be the Sonic for Amiga, for crying out loud, and all you can do is go on about some superficial similarities to another Flair game, damn you!"

At last! I was getting somewhere - the cute image of Oscar was crumbling, and beneath it I detected the hard-bitten features of a businessman. I refused to put on the space suit that Oscar thrust at me for the next level and started to take control of the situation.

I told him that this game was nothing more than a shallow revamping of the game Trolls. It old him that since Trolls was associated with those crappy little dolls, he'd been created as a ploy to appeal to a much older and broader range of people, and that dressing him up in different costumes didn't necessarily constitute a major leap forward in game design.

I told him that it was all very well having loads of colours on the screen, but that this didn't mean diddly squat if you couldn't play the game properly because the baddies usually merged into the backgrounds in confusing, garish graphical mess.

Finally I told him that Trolls A1200 was a much better game, and that I thought Flair should have tried coming up with a new idea, but by then he'd bounded over to another person and was telling him that he was the best-looking youth in the cinema. I left in a state of confusion and resolved to rent a video next time.

Oscar CD32 logo CD32 Gamer Gold

Oscar * Flair Software

Along with Diggers, Oscar is the other title to appear in the launch bundle for the CD32. Now while Diggers is set a president for size, sound and in-depth play, Oscar starts to show what the CD32 can do in the graphics department.

Strangely enough in Oscar you play Oscar, and the plot centres around the film industry's own accolade to its own - the Oscars. Oscar, this character definitely falls under the category of cutesy, although defining which area of the animal he hails from is beyond me. He resembles a chipmunk with bits of human in him.

Anyway, whatever Oscar is or isn't, he loves the cinema. The show starts on one particular visit to his local multi-screen. The movies that are showing are the various worlds that Oscar must explore.

The CD32 version of the title features nine levels, two more than its A1200 counterpart. These vary from a Jurassic level through to a Horror Channel and a Sci Fi Encounters level.

One of the extra levels has very little to do with movies, but does have a strong connection with Commodore.

The aim of each of the levels, which comprise of three stages, is for Oscar to collect a number of miniature Oscars. Once he has completed this mission and collected the special letters which are scattered around he can move on to the bonus/bogus levels.

There are loads of nasties and power-ups which add to the fun and frolics. In many respects, Oscar has all the classic features of your platformer, but for one exception - it's better, both in graphics and playability, than the likes of Mario and Sonic could ever dream of becoming.

I could go on and on about the graphics, the samples and the sound in general. My advice to you is to go out and buy it. It looks and plays beautifully.

Oscar CD32 logo CD32

Am 1200er gefiel Flairs Jump & Run recht gut, die dem CD32 beiliegende Version hat sogar etwas hübschere Grafik, Musik von der CD, eine bessere Steuerung und ein paar zusätzliche Levels zu bieten. Andererseits haben die Plattform-Dinos auf der Schillerscheibe mit technischen Patzern zu kämpfen, was insgesamt zu Punktabzug führt: 70 Prozent. (rl)

Oscar CD32 logo CD32

Flair £25.99

Oh dear. I am still finding this a bit hard to believe, to be honest. The CD32's rather nice joypad has no less than seven buttons on it. Oscar uses 'up' to jump. Otherwise, this is, as far as I can tell, exactly the same game as the less-than-amazing A1200 version we reviewed last month.

It is still almost completely impossible to see the bad guys against the backgrounds on most of the levels, it is still littered with bits where you have to leap off the screen and just hope for the best, only to end up plummeting down a bottomless lift shaft or similar, you still have to bounce on the soppiest baddies three times to dispose of them (a pointless annoyance that even the PC version ironed out), and it is still basically just a more garish version of Trolls with most of the good bits taken out.

Oscar CD32 logo CD32

Trolls was a surprise smash. Now Flair are looking to repeat that success with the CD32 flagship game. Tony Dillon was less than impressed.

I really enjoyed Trolls. The colourful and playable romp through a selection of fast-paced, maze-like levels made this platform adventure a winner in my book, as well as everyone else's. That's probably why Flair have spent the recent months developing Oscar in a similar vein to Trolls. However, if the game looks a little similar to Trolls, that's only because it is, in essence, the same game, with just some different graphics and a couple more bells and whistles added.

As far as the plot is concerned, there isn't much there to write home about. Oscar has had all his Oscars stolen (the small golden statues) and scattered about the sets of a collection of films, seven or nine depending of the version you've got. Each film set contains all the nasties and enemies you would expect to see, such as the aliens from Alien in 'Sci Fi Encounters', albeit with bright red noses and comical expressions, or amusing stereotyped policemen parading their beat in 'Cartoon Capers'. Possibly the most visually recognisable level is 'War Games', as the entire thing is in black and white!

Oscar's nicest graphic twist is in the underwater segments. Some levels are flooded to a certain point and, when you are above the water line, all you can see is the level reflected on the surface of the lake. Not much new there, but as soon as you dive below the surface, the palette changes and a whole new world is revealed. Of course, the controls change as Oscar starts to swim, but that's only to be expected.

The one biggest throwback from the days of Trolls is the inclusion of the Yo-yo. Most platform games, you normally kill the enemy sprites by leaping on their heads (a horribly outdated way of doing things, and one part of the whole platform genre that really needs something fresh). Some games even let you collect guns and what not.

Oscar, on the other hand, lets you collect a small ball on a string. But this is no ordinary ball. Not only can it knock out enemy sprites at five paces (albeit after three hits), it can also be used as a swing! Leaping into the air and then firing it at a nearby platform will occasionally cause it to attach to the underside of the said object, leaving to swoop by yelling in a Tarzan fashion.

But the proof in any game is in the playing, and this is really where Oscar falls on its face. First off, if you want to play it with the joypad - forget it! You will need to use a lot of diagonals for jumping across gaps, and the joypad supplied with the machine just isn't all that hot when it comes to diagonals. I would have like to have seen one of the buttons used as a jump control, but these things are always easy to say with hindsight!

So, using your favourite joystick, what do you find? A very sluggish game, that's what. Oscar is trying to be a fast paced platformer, but fails miserably due to the abysmally slow controls. Sure, you can belt all over the screen, but just try to time a jump when you're running at full speed!

As I've already said, it's a very colourful game. Generally there are over one hundred colours on screen at any one time, with the main sprite taking 32 colours, the panel at the bottom of the screen taking another 32, a sixteen colour foreground and over 40 more making up the copperlist in the back. It might sound very nice, but it causes horrendous problems.

Take a look at any screenshots on this page, and see how easy it is to make out platforms and enemy sprites. It isn't. Everything looks very complicated, and even more so when everything is moving. Why do graphic artists feel that they need to use so many colours? It does nothing more than make the game harder to play. I got extremely fed up repeatedly walking into things that I just couldn't see.

Oscar has all the makings of an excellent platform game, but it seems that Flair have tried too hard in all the wrong places. Not the best entry point to the world of CD32 games!


The CD32 version of Oscar has nine levels, along with some superb MIDI sound and enhanced effects, or so what we are told by Flair. The version we have reviewed here has only seven levels and the standard A1200 sound. Are we cheating you? I think not, as we actually reviewed the version of the game that came boxed with our CD32,. It seems that in an effort to get the machine out early, Commodore haven't waited for the full CD32 version, shipping the first batch of machines with the normal Amiga version. I don't know about you, but having bought the machine, I would be extremely annoyed to discover that none of the console's new features have been implemented on the bundled software, and would certainly expect Commodore to replace my CD. Apparently, there are no plans to do this. I leave you to draw your own conclusions.