Dr. Oil Review


Dr. Oil describes itself as a “bit hardcore 2D platforming experience that tells a story of conflict between the butter boy and the seagull.” I’d agree with the first half of that sentence but you can ignore the “story” aspect.

Dr. Oil has seventy-five levels through five different worlds to play through, and while some levels provide a solid hardcore platforming experience, the majority are plagued by awkward controls. Before getting too far deep into this review, it’s worth mentioning that my main gripes with Dr. Oil are the loose controls, physics system, and overall gameplay inconsistency that results because of those issues.

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I like tight controls when I play platformers. When I stop moving the thumbstick, I want my character to stop moving as well. If there is a dash mechanic, I prefer the game to either display a recharge meter, or to have the dash refill once landing after each use. Now, maybe I shouldn’t have expected any less than movement that feels like the ground is covered in oil with this one. The controls are incredibly loose.

There is also a dash mechanic, but even after completing the game I still don’t quite understand what the requirement is for it to recharge. Landing doesn’t reset it and there is no visual indication that it’s recharging. Sometimes I’d even push the dash button right before dying, but then I’d dash as soon as I respawned.

The wonky dash paired with the slip and slide movement just left me unhappy with how the gameplay felt.

As I previously mentioned, Dr. Oil has a physics system as well. Many levels have floating platforms that stay loosely in place. Touching them results in them spinning and moving out of place, which is what lends those levels much of their difficulty. That being said, it is so finicky that it never makes for an enjoyable run. I often would land on a platform and be unable to jump again because the hit registration on the platform would slightly bounce it away from me.

This means I would jump to a platform and be unable to jump again, even though I should’ve been touching it. There were even more egregious examples, where some platforms not only didn’t let me jump, but they would be constantly hit until they fell off screen. Even fixed platforms had issues because their odd geometry would result in weird collisions, or their placement angle made it awkward to land on them.

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What’s worse is that the first fifteen levels of Dr. Oil are almost exclusively built around the physics mechanic; it is incredibly frustrating to play them. I like a good challenge, but when the challenge is a result of inconsistent inputs, it doesn’t feel satisfying to win. Instead it feels more like I just got lucky. Many of the levels throughout Dr. Oil I beat by simply trying over and over again until I was able to get the hit registration to work in my favor. It was a brute force solution, not a skill based one.

Even in the later levels where platforms acted more consistently, it still didn’t feel satisfying to beat a level. Instead of loosely floating platforms, there are incredibly steep ones that feel awkward to climb. It’s less like a challenging platform game and more like trying to scale a mountain in Skyrim without taking the correct path.

The middle levels aren’t all bad, and there are a couple based on pinpoint platforming instead of luck. But these are few and far between. There are also a few runaway levels and boss fights that are decently enjoyable, but they still don’t make up for the slogging that needs to be done to play them.

The ending of Dr. Oil is perhaps the biggest robbery of any sense of satisfaction. The fifth world’s main mechanics are blocks that disappear shortly after you land on them. This is the portion of the game that played the most consistently for me, in terms of inputs. However, the final level of the game involves running away from “Captain Seagull” – which has a character backstory too pointless to even bother going over.

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The issue is that the level is designed so that you need to descend from the starting point as he chases you. The entire level makes use of the aforementioned disappearing blocks that are arranged in large circular patterns with spikes placed throughout. This sounds like it could be difficult. Upon actually playing it though, I realized all I had to do is stand in one spot and wait for the blocks to disappear since there were no spikes in my way. The level ended with me landing on the bottom platform and then the game cutting to a screen of text that concludes the story. No animation, no puzzle, and no skill required. It was one of the easiest levels in the game with no payout.

A quick side note for achievement hunters and here I have both good and bad news. Dr. Oil’s 1000 Gamerscore can be earned by simply beating the game, assuming you jump, dash, and die enough (which you certainly will). However, once you start going for that 1000G, you’ll want to make sure you stick with the game until you have it all. This is because Dr. Oil decides to give you achievements that don’t end in a multiple of five. So if you are like me and want your Gamerscore to end in either a zero or a five, then you better be sure you’ll stick with it until the end.

Overall, Dr. Oil misses the mark in regards the core concept of what makes a platformer fun – a feeling of accomplishment for overcoming a challenge through skill. This lack of satisfaction is a result of the inconsistent hit registration and unpleasant movement that can’t be made up for. Even if the level design would’ve been flawless.

Dr. Oil can be downloaded from the Xbox Store

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Ryan Taylor
Ryan Taylor
Grew up playing the Nintendo 64 where I fell in love with the Legend of Zelda series. As I got older though my console of choice changed, first to PS2, and then finally to the Xbox 360, which I've been playing on for over a decade now. And since my first day booting up my Xbox, I've upgraded consoles and even built a gaming PC. Because at the end of the day I just love gaming.
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