Action RPGs always seem to prompt a good deal of conversation around here, so let's give 'em their own arena. I'm a huge Action RPG nut. It's my favorite genre, and the Big Four are some of my most precious Genesis games:
- Beyond Oasis
- Crusader of Centy
- Light Crusader
To me, Beyond Oasis is best. It presents a graphically lush, continuous world that is highly immersive and surprisingly realistic in terms of physics and interaction. There are a boatload of secrets - sixty gems to find and a half-dozen hidden elixirs; as well as several addictive mini-games that allow you to acquire overpowered superweapons. Which leads me to the best thing about Beyond Oasis - its amazing combat system. Instead of slash and jump-slash like most other Action RPGs, Oasis gave gamers in the mid-nineties the sort of special attacks we take for granted in an age of advanced hack 'n slash titles. There are multiple weapons (all of which feel very different) other than the default knife, and literally thousands of enemies with unique AI behaviors to try out your skills on. Lastly, Beyond Oasis is unique in terms of its realistic, non-obtuse puzzles. (Shameless plug.)
Crusader of Centy is very charming, but also simplistic and far too short. There's barely any game left by the time you max our your capabilities, and on the whole the translation is unrefined. I always feel like the game needed a bit more time before it was shipped...not a good thing. Still, Gau/NexTech pulls through with great graphics and a very original storyline. (Something Oasis didn't have.)
Light Crusader is such a visually impressive game, and the music is brilliant at times. On the other hand, it's generally uninspired and cliched. The magic system seems good on the surface but is ultimately shallow and unrewarding to use. And the puzzles, unlike Oasis and even Crusader of Centy to a lesser degree, are very obvious and contrived - not to mention that they make up almost the entire content of the game. Add on generic, bland NPCs and repetitive gameplay and you have something that just doesn't click. Don't get me wrong; I enjoy this game, but it just isn't up to the same level as the others.
Landstalker. Unlike what a lot of people say, I don't think the platforming is too horribly unfair. The characters have distinct personalities and the plot has a few interesting twists... Lots of secrets. Spacious and refreshingly long compared to its competition. Bad combat. Over all, I consider Landstalker to be the solid 'fallback' Action RPG on the Genesis. It does a ton of stuff right, stumbles a few times, but in the end is a fan favorite that will always be sought after. It doesn't match the other three in certain categories, like graphics or combat, but on the whole it has fewer problems than the others.
All four are must-owns, of course, and all but Centy have come down drastically in price in recent days.