Genre: Action Developer: Game Arts Publisher: Sega of America Players: 1 Released: 1992
Released for the Genesis in 1992, Alisia Dragoon is an obscure little gem that never got the praise it deserved, probably thanks to SOA’s brilliant marketing division (Gunstar Heroes or Ristar anyone?). Developed by Game Arts and boasting some excellent action and gameplay, it is, in my opinion, a game well worth hunting down.
As Alisia, you must overcome eight stages of obstacles to avenge your father’s death and prevent the evil god Baldour (who killed your dad) from awakening. Sure, the story may sound only a little cliché, but who plays platformers for the character development?
Graphically, Alisia Dragoon is a mixed bag. While the visuals certainly do their job, sometimes I found myself expecting a bit more. There is some pretty parallax (I’m such a whore for parallax!) and the earth tone colors fit well.
Alisia herself is animated well enough, as are her enemies. Little details, like her hair flowing when she jumps down, are a nice touch. There are a few fog warping effects on some stages that are nice to look at but again, nothing really stands out, at least until the later stages. The first few levels look a bit sparse compared to them. Stage five (the cave) looks awesome, as does the rotating cylinder in stage six.
The music is excellent. Mecano Associates scored a great medieval sounding soundtrack that I will have to obtain somehow. The sounds are well done too. Alisia’s little yelp when she gets hit isn’t that appealing but the crashes and explosions are very cool.
You get to choose from four control schemes, with one button used for firing, one for jumping, and one for changing your dragons. The difficulty level can be a tad intimidating, and continuing sends you back to the beginning of the level. But we all need a little challenge in our lives, right?
The gameplay is simple to get into, but requires a little management. Alisia has a thunder attack that homes in on enemies. The attack charges automatically and unleashes itself on all enemies onscreen when it’s full. She can upgrade her attack power by collecting power-ups throughout the game. There are also extra lives and energy to be had. Many stages also have secret rooms that contain vital power-ups. Since you only have one life and continues are few and far between, you’ll need to hunt down all the goodies you can.
Alisia also has a little monster companion who helps her in battle. There are four that can be changed with a press of a button: a dragon that breathes fire, a little floating fireball that burns enemies with its body, a boomerang-throwing lizard, and a flying reptile who’s thunder attack takes out all enemies at once (when it’s charged). Your companions take damage and can be killed, however, and finding a revive power-up isn’t easy. Fortunately, you can find meat to cure them. You can also raise their life bars with additional power-up goodies.
There’s some decent platforming to be had here, but nothing that requires ninja gaming skills. Alisia Dragoon isn’t that long, and I suspect most gamers will be able to get through it in a weekend. The solid game mechanics, cool graphics, and great soundtrack will hook you in and keep you playing until the very end. I recommend it wholeheartedly. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to playing.