Pieces of Heart: The Story of Thor AKA Beyond Oasis. - Destructoid

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This is the first part of a series were I jump into my games collection and find a classic that doesn't get the respect and love it deserves. There are so many games that donít get remembered as fondly as other classics, so today we champion a unsung hero...

The story of Thor (as it was known in Europe) is the story of Prince Ali (no, not the one with the singing genie) as he travels the land fighting the forces of darkness to defeat the evil wearer of the silver amulet. Finding a golden amulet in a forgotten cave, Ali must follow in ancient footsteps to save the kingdom with the power of four elemental spirits.

So far so RPGÖ. But no. Story of Thor throws in a pretty comprehensive brawler fighting mechanic akin to Streets of Rage and other scrolling beatíem ups. Ali can leap, stab and combo with the best of them, altering his approach depending on his enemies. Adding in a collection of temporary weapons, an item inventory and the ability to summon spirits gives The Story of Thor a perfect mix of RPG, puzzle solving and hack and slash violence.

As a complete experience, the game truly does give the full spectrum you would expect from a multi genre title. A complete swash buckling story, fiendish puzzles and monstrous bosses. Graphically it is a testament to the 16-bit generation, with bright popping colors and spooky blacks and greys. The music is stellar, and the digitized screams of your fallen enemies was pretty ground breaking at the time.

The puzzles are truly a master stroke. In a metroidvania style, the player is encouraged to back track when more skills and spirit powers are unlocked to claim copious rewards. The spirits Ali can summon require their corresponding element to burst into life. A flame for Efreet the fire spirit for example. This begins simple, but becomes fiendish later on, requiring eagle eyed play. For example a stand out scene lands the player in a dead end with nothing but a single dripping leak. By summoning the water spirit the player can begin a chain reaction to progress. The game is full of little tricks like this that give it a charm all of its own.

The Story of Thor is still remembered by the faithful, but it seems to elude the love shown to similar titles like Zelda or Secrets of Mana. Whilst itís not perfect, it does still give a fantastic RPG experience with a violent twist. Itís a shame that it didn't become a series or get a re-boot, as a HD version would be all my Christmases at once.

If you get the chance to delve into The Story of Thor, you will get a great old school experience, that really could show modern games a few things about pacing, combat and problem solving. A true diamond in the rough.

The story of Thor/Beyond Oasis was available for Sega Mega Drive/Genesis. Now you can get a copy on the Virtual Console as well as on the Sega collection for X-box 360 and PS3.††
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