Ding, dong, the witch is dead! Yes, all of you Dorothy fans, there’s a Wizard of Oz game that you can play on Facebook.
Spooky Cool Labs and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment are launching The Wizard of Oz on Facebook today as a social game based on the beloved film. You can take a trip down the Yellow Brick World along with Dorothy and Toto, as long as you build the road first. The title is a city-building game with 3D graphics and voice-over narration. It features music from the film, video clips, and animated likenesses for characters. You can spin the world to see it from a different 3D view or look at the world from the top down.
The company bills the game as a next-generation social game on Facebook. The fact that the start-up secured a big brand is a sign that Facebook is growing up as a medium. The social network has a billion users and 251 million monthly active gamers.
“We’re bullish on Facebook,” Joe Kaminkow, the chief executive and founder of Spooky Cool Labs, told GamesBeat. “We think it has broad reach and is a place where players can get enthralled with and engaged with a product. We’ve never had a chance to reach such a large audience with one of our visions for a game.”
In the game, you arrive in Munchkinland right after Dorothy’s house lands on the Wicked Witch of the East. The good witch Glinda shows you how to maneuver through the 3D space and work with the munchkins to build a better Munchkintown. You can pick the munchkins up and drop them on trees to get them to start chopping. Then you can use the wood to construct buildings and create the Yellow Brick Road. Your ultimate destination is the Emerald City. On the way, you’ll run into characters from the Land of Oz, and you’ll have to fend of the Wicket Witch of the West and her winged monkeys.
The Wizard of Oz is of course an enormously valuable license. Warner Bros. gave it to Chicago-based Spooky Cool Labs because it was founded by well-known game designers Joe Kaminkow and Larry DeMar, who have both created some of the most popular games in arcade, pinball, and slots.
“We earned their trust and treated their brand with the utmost respect,” said Kaminkow.
They got their start working in the coin-operated arcade business. DeMar was the partner of Eugene Jarvis, the creator of the classic arcade game Robotron 2084, and Kaminkow began working DeMar at Williams, one of the original arcade game companies.
“It’s a city-building game that makes use of 3D,” said Kaminkow. “You have to marshal the munchkins and build your virtual economy to get the bricks to build the Yellow Brick Road.”
The team has been working on the Wizard of Oz game for almost two years. That’s an unheard of amount of time for a social game, but the title is very ambitious and features 3D graphics based on the Unity 3D game engine. You can click on a munchkin and view “the munchkin cam,” where you can see the world from the view of the users. Kaminkow said he is impressed with the results he got from Unity. The team has 70 people. More unannounced games are in the works.
“We took a bigger bite of the apple than we should have, but we wanted to redefine this space, graphically and in gameplay,” said Kaminkow. “Our game is meant to be much more engaging and personal.”