|Publisher: Toybox Games Genre: Puzzle & Trivia|
|Min OS X: 10.2|
I wanted to like this game. I really did, but some things are not written in the stars. Before laying my hands on the final journey of the Ouba tribe I decided to give it a test run with the demo which promptly locked up in the first few minutes. This should have been a clear indication of what was to come. Not to be put off by first impressions, I decided to give the Ouba’s a fair shot at completing their Great Journey. And through my hours trying to rebuild their devastated village I discovered that Ouba: The Great Journey should have stayed safe at home with their creators.
The story goes that all of the Oubas lived in a village until an evil magician, Garouba, decimates it and is now trying to capture all of the Oubas to do his bidding. It is up to us to save the Oubas, who are trapped atop columns of colored blocks, by horizontally or vertically sliding the blocks to created matches of three or more colors thus making the blocks magically disappear and lowering the Oubas to safety to gather and rebuild their village. It’s not so easy when you have Garouba off to the side forcing the blocks higher with more colored blocks on the bottom row as well as a time limit ticking away. You do have a little help as the king of the Ouba’s lends his magic to create power-ups like bombs, hammers, and the ability to scramble all of the blocks in play. It sounds like a decent puzzle game and it would have been if Toybox Games had spent the time to clean out the giant bugs.
Like all good journeys we need to start off optimistic. To begin, the graphics in the game were well done, albeit limited. All of the different blocks were colorful and easy to recognize and had nine different looks to them from shiny rectangular gems, ruined stones, or emblazoned with different elemental emblems. Which turned out to be a real nice variety to keep the look of the game fresh. The Ouba’s themselves were cute and once they reached the bottom their victory animations made me chuckle a few times, but because of the limited animations it doesn’t take long to tune them out. If the Ouba’s had different shapes and sizes to their figures it would have helped in preventing the game from quickly becoming repetitive instead of just having differing colors of the little creatures. I do have to give kudos to Toybox Games for keeping the presentation of the game consistent throughout its entirety. The menus and the heads up display (HUD) have a wonderful tribal feel to them and belong in the Ouba’s world.
The middle of the journey is when you’re used to everything so when something shifts out of place it’s a hurdle that could dislodge everything you’ve worked for. You’ve come this far, you can’t stop now but this is when things might start looking grim and the clouds being to gather. The sound is the first major warning of this unfinished game. It starts off fine with four tunes: a bouncy beginning tune when you bring up the game, a mellow tribal tune when solving the puzzles, and a couple of tunes that play depending on if you save all of the Oubas or if you let one get captured thereby failing the level. Nothing too dramatic or life changing here, although one might notice a small bar on the right side of the HUD that says “music.” Clicking the tab will slide out a menu that looks to be a place to insert your own musical choices which filled me with glee until it brought up an error screen after clicking on the “add music” button. That’s right, you guessed it. It doesn’t work. To which I still have yet to hear back from Toybox Games after contacting them about this issue. It looked to be a great addition, with the ability to store a multitude of your own rockin’ tunes and sort by name, folder, or just shuffle them all up and play whatever is in there. But alas, my music fell on deaf ears. If you want to you can always play Ouba: The Great Journey in a window and have iTunes on in the background but I say then what is the purpose of an in-game music player if it does not even function? Oh, and don’t bother looking in the instruction document for any helpful hints, the digital download doesn’t come with one.
Fortunately, the sound effects are a thin ray of hope that tries to shine through the dismal atmosphere. Oubas talk and their tiny voices are spot on to how they should sound. Saying things like “Get ready to Ouba!” or “combo!” or shouting for glee when you rescue them, all of their voices work with what the developers had in mind. When your blocks get to high a horn blasts twice and the Oubas begin to whimper letting you know if you don’t do something fast your game will quickly be over. Unfortunately if you are just barely keeping them from being jailbirds the horn will keep blasting twice and the whimpering will continue which can, and will, destroy a little more of your patience and good humor.