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Beyond Oasis

Genre: Action/RPG Developer: Ancient Publisher: Sega of America Players: 1 Released: 1994

Beyond Oasis is a top-down style action RPG, with emphasis on action. It has all of the experience, HP, SP, etc., you’d expect in an RPG, but the combat is realtime and victory relies on your speed with the controls.

Not a whole lot of story here. It has one or two minor “surprises” but overall there isn’t much in the way of plot. Don’t be expecting a complex tapestry of characters and events. The story is related in short bursts, usually during interaction with one of the few NPCs. Here it is, anyway: A young man named Ali, who enjoys hunting for treasure, stumbles across the magical Gold Armlet on a lonely isle. When he puts it on a spirit tells him he must defend the land of Oasis from the evil Silver Armlet. But first he must find the 4 Spirits of the Gold Armlet. Ali barely escapes from the island before it sinks. When he returns to his home he finds a band of enemies and adventure waiting for him…

A cool gameplay element is the use of the 4 Spirits – Dytto, Efreet, Shade, and Bow. Each of these corresponds to a different element of nature (water, fire, life, and earth) and can be summoned from the various natural things they are related to. (i.e. Dytto can be summoned from Water) You can control the spirits with various uses of the A button, and they each have a set of special techniques that can be used to solve puzzles, help you fight, or protect you.

Oasis has some of the nicer graphics on the Genesis thanks to a relatively bright color palette and some high quality artwork. The opening and closing movies have traces of anime, but on the whole the game is simply done in a generic cartoon style. While the characters are nicely done with realistic hand-drawn animation and professional artwork, the backgrounds sometimes look like doodles. Overall, however, it’s very nicely done and enjoyable to look at.

The sound is probably a high point of the game. The effects are varied and logical and the music, while not very exciting or particularly memorable, fits each situation. You just can’t really hum it, and it’s somewhat hard to remember until you play the game. (The soundtrack is done by the somewhat overrated but still admirable Yuzo Koshiro, by the way.) There are quite a few different sound effects for each situation, which goes a long way. There are over a dozen different screams when you kill an enemy, for example. Some of the sound is kind of scratchy but that is simply a common ailment in Genesis games. The music has a cool orchestral feel with trumpets and violins. A few tunes get repeated too much for my liking, but overall it is much better than many other games.

The controls are intuitive but still not easy to pull off. For example: to do a simple forward jab with your knife you just have to tap the B button. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. Because if you tap too slowly then it becomes a slash, which is not the same thing. The range of error for the stab is very small, making the simplest of moves at best chancy. Other than that, it’s pretty good, although the enemies tend to whack you before you can execute the more complicated move sequences. Blistering speed and a high-quality controller are essential.

There are quite a few different bosses and enemies in Beyond Oasis. The bosses generally don’t require a trick or anything to damage and most of the enemies have some special trait that can affect gameplay or make things easier if you know what you’re doing. Many people complain about the lack of enemy types, and in some ways the argument is valid. There are about 30 or so different enemies, and each has multiple color palette styles to indicate toughness. (Purple Ogre is tougher than Green Ogre…) The bosses are all very large, with the exception of a handful of “bosses” that are simply collections of nasty normal enemies. Some of the boss fights can get quite intense and in general it’s extremely satisfying to beat up on the minions.

This is definitely a jewel of the Genesis treasury but unfortunately it isn’t super common, so don’t expect to find it at your average garage sale. It may require a little hunting and cash, but unless you hate RPGs, it is well worth it. If you buy it, you’ve found yourself a priceless nugget buried in the sands of time…

SCORE: 9 out of 10

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3 Comments

  1. kukuro says:

    I don’t understand this game. Sure, the presentation is gorgeous and maybe one of the best of the Megadrive/Genesis Library but Beyond Oasis (“The Legend of Thor” at house) mix an unimaginative top view beat’em all in a soulless RPG. In my opinion, it falls a little bit to short. CONCLUSION: 7/10

  2. Dreamcaster-X says:

    I was always surprised they never released a sequel on Genesis but instead waited for the Sega Saturn. It’s one of the best RPG’s on the system for sure though.

  3. Zebbe says:

    There is so much in this game… Cutscenes, fighting moves, stereo sound fx, sidequests. Yet I feel there is something missing. Could it be a better story, and a longer game, perhaps?

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