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When I was a child, there were the Disney major motion pictures. Every year around Christmas another blockbuster came to the cinemas and filled the halls up to the last seat each evening - they were true family events. One of these films was Oliver & Company. Even if it is one of the lesser known Disney movies today, it had all the elements which made them so successful. The story is centered on Oliver, a young kitten that is lost in New York. Being on his own, he has to learn the rough life of the streets, deal with stray dogs, and face many other dangers of the Big Apple. Then Oliver meets Dodger, a charismatic dog from the neighborhood, who sort of adopts him and introduces him to his friends, a band of other barkers with completely different bloodlines. Together, they experience a couple of adventures and even save the life of the little girl, Jenny, at the end of the movie.
The game is a conversion of the movie and incorporates the most interesting and colorful scenes. There are four stages. In the first stage, while all alone in the streets, Oliver must find food (in the form of small sausages) and avoid pedestrians like walkers, skaters, or angry hotdog sellers. In the second stage, he has to catch bones which are thrown into the room. The third stage is based on the visit to Jenny’s home. Here, Oliver has to take care that his friends don’t mess up the noble mansion. The fourth and last level is a type of maze. Jenny has been kidnapped and Oliver has to find her with the help of his friends.
Oliver & Company is a nice game, designed for kids who have seen the movie and want to experience Oliver’s adventures on their own. Sadly, the game has one big downside: it is really, really short. Even unskilled gamers will be able to finish it in less than 10 minutes. Apart from being designed for kids, there is simply not enough content for a full-priced title, which it was sold as.
On the other hand, this is one of the best games I’ve ever seen. If you keep in mind that Oliver & Company was released in 1989, you will realize how great the graphics are drawn. In its technical aspects the game can rival most titles which were released years later. Also, due to the Intersound MDO compatibility (also known as Covox or Disney Sound Source), which is emulated by DOSBox, you can hear not only bleeps and blurps, but also some music and real sound effects. These features are all above standard for a game of the late 80's.
I probably would have rated the game lower, due to its lack of content, but in my opinion the graphics and sound make up for a moderate rating of 3. Even today it is worth a look, and if you have children you might also get a DVD or video tape of the movie and let them play the game afterwards.