15 January 2013

Become a Munchkinland Mogul

Last fall Spooky Cool Labs released a Warner Bros.–licensed Wizard of Oz game on Facebook. I, of course, haven’t played it. And even though several of my Facebook friends come from the world of Oz scholarship, I haven’t seen a lot of notifications about “Jenny has killed two Kalidahs!” or the like. Maybe I finally figured out how to work my settings correctly.

I therefore turned to Peter Davison’s review at Inside Social Games for more information. The game uses images, sounds, and footage from the 1939 movie, and the sight of Munchkinland above suggests it also owes something to McDonaldland (and thus to Sid & Marty Krofft).

Davison explains the gameplay this way:
Dorothy…meets Glinda the Good Witch of the North and discovers her quest to follow the Yellow Brick Road and make her way to Emerald City. Thus, most players would probably expect some sort of adventure/role-playing game experience, with players taking control of Dorothy (and later her companions) as they attempt to make the perilous but colorful journey.

Instead what we get is a title that is rather similar to CityVille at first glance. A very well-presented CityVille-alike, yes, and one with a few surprises up its sleeve, but a CityVille-alike nonetheless.

The player’s time in The Wizard of Oz is spent primarily rebuilding Munchkinland by constructing houses and resource-gathering buildings. More houses mean a higher population of Munchkins, who can subsequently be assigned to the production buildings in order to generate the resources required to continue building.
That doesn’t seem much in the spirit of either the movie or L. Frank Baum’s books. The latter eventually proclaimed that Oz was a moneyless economy with everything owned by Princess Ozma and distributed free on the basis of need—a system that no doubt works better in a land where bread and shoes grow on trees.

But social-media games have to make money in this world. Not only is the key to success in this Oz harnessing the work of little people, but players can use real money to buy emeralds that work as Ozian currency and speed up the process.

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