Games that look three-dimensional but play in two dimensions can turn out wonderfully. Klonoa and Viewtiful Joe are prime examples. The overall design just has to be diverse enough to keep players interested long after the glitz and glamour of the 3D visuals wears off. The environments and characters in Ozzy & Drix on the GBA are vibrant and lively, and the varying camera angles do a great job of conveying a solid 3D world. Past these cutting-edge visuals, however, there's nothing left but a simple run-and-jump platformer--and it's a bad one at that.
The concept behind Ozzy & Drix is pretty cool. Ozzy is a white blood cell, and Drix is a flu tablet. They're two tiny cops living inside a full-size human being. All of the blood vessels and organs contained within the city of Hector are represented as freeways and skyscrapers, and the citizens that live there are the cells, amino acids, and chemical compounds that keep Hector alive. In the game, Ozzy and Drix get called to action when an evil virus named Strepfinger kidnaps the mayor and brings together a group of menacing germs to attack the city. Your job is to hop and jump through Hector's body and battle these germs at the end of each level.
Developer Raylight Studios has come up with an impressive 3D engine here. Ozzy, Drix, and the dozen or so enemies are heavily animated, and the scenery (for the most part) is large, easy to see, and full of perspective. There are a few situations where the game flexes its 3D muscle to rotate a large structure, such as a gland or a tooth, which really helps to give the player an idea of what it's like to exist inside a human body. After every boss encounter, you'll also get to watch as story scenes that use the game's 3D graphics play out.
Sadly, the 3D graphics don't hide the fact that this is easily one of the plainest platform-style games ever produced for the Game Boy Advance. There are long stretches in the side-scrolling levels where you're doing nothing but running to the right--without any enemies or gaps to deal with. When you do encounter an enemy, chances are good that you'll need to hop over an incoming spit-wad before making an attack of your own, since the CPU can see you coming long before you see an enemy appear onscreen. Besides the standard side-view stages, roughly half the game's levels are first-person driving stages that are set on the blood vessel and nervous system pathways found inside Hector's body. To reach your destination in one piece, you need to dodge passing traffic and avoid the parasitic mines that Strepfinger has laid out for you. These driving stages are more of an afterthought than anything else, though. Your side-to-side movement is pretty limited, and the same hindering objects just repeat over and over again. The boss battles at the end of each stage are similarly underwhelming. You can beat most of them just by rapidly tapping buttons or keeping the accelerator pressed.
At times, the game's 3D graphics can hinder your ability to play. It's often impossible to land a clear shot on an enemy because there's no way to know if the barrel of your pistol is lined up with the enemy. Frequently, the perspective will change midway through a jump, so you'll soon discover that the ledge you're aiming for is a little farther out than you had originally thought. The sluggish controls don't help, either. There's a brief delay between the instances when you push the jump button and when your character actually makes his move, so it's easy to just slip right off of an edge or to bounce off of a trampoline and into the void below.
Ozzy & Drix is an example of putting too many eggs in one basket. The 3D visuals are great, but every other aspect of the game comes up short. The level designs are boring; the controls are terrible; you can beat it in an hour; and there's no compelling reason to play through a second time except to view a piddly gallery of 3D character models.