For those reading one of my Genesis review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:
I already reviewed a bunch of SNES games, so its natural that I am going to review the games of its prime competition. Does the SEGA Genesis stand a chance against the legendary SNES library?
My review series is based on the top 100 list of Retro Sanctuary
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the Retro Sanctuary list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.
Without further ado, here is:
12: Beyond Oasis:
Genre: Action Adventure.
First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.
In many ways, Beyond Oasis is a typical example of the games released at the end of the 16bit generation. It manages to squeeze every ounce of the system's technical capabilities, as well as learn from all the past games in the genre, and yet is still ignored.
If it was released a year or two earlier, Beyond Oasis would have been hailed as a masterpiece. However, it was released when the SNES was dominating the market, and Sega released the Saturn for over a year, as well as the doomed 32X Genesis expansion.
"He will lead Oasis to ruin if you don't stop them"
As you can guess from the name of the game, the story is set in a desert kingdom surrounding an oasis. You wouldn't guess that the protagonist name is Ali given the blond hair though. In this desert kingdom, Ali finds the Gold Armlet, a magical item that will allow him to stand up to the evil threatening the oasis.
In a clear sign of the trend toward more elaborate narratives in the coming generations, Beyond Oasis is significantly more story-driven than other similar games on the Genesis. It is not a thrilling story by any means, but it adds a driving factor to the player.
Protecting your kingodom is a common objective
One thing that annoyed me is how Ali is constantly being called "Gold Armlet", as if the object he is wearing is somehow a name. As such, his evil counterpart is called Silver Armlet, which is just a stupid name.
There is a Story: +2
"The power of the Gold Armlet are now yours to lose"
Using a top-down perspective, like the 2D Legend of Zelda games, Beyond Oasis is surprisingly mobile. Ali can dash, jump, and crawl like he would do if this was a Side-Scrolling game. He attacks with various combos, depending on how you push the attack button. For instance, quick taps will give off a short and fast stabbing attack that does little damage. But quick taps with specific rhythm will give off an effective combo.
Other than his trusty dagger, there is a small amount of destructible weapons that can be found. Even though the durability of these weapons mean that you will mostly depend on the unbreakable dagger, they are frequently found so that you will probably use them in a lot of the game's harder encounters.
Due to both the availability of a lot of health restoration items, as well as Ali's magical powers (which I will talk about later), the game is rarely if ever difficult.
That giant man will be even more unhappy about his allies performance in just a bit
Battles can be very hectic, with lot of soldiers, giants, and imps running around. However, if you keep your distance well, you can slash and kick your way around easily out of any trouble. If not, you can simply use a lot of the thrown around health restoration items for an instant recovery.
Even bosses, who are actually fun to fight against, and look formidable most of the time, are not that much of a challenge. In fact, if you want to add any degree of difficulty, you should probably abstain from using some types of items.
Fun Action Gameplay: +4
Fast Movement: +3
"Show me your power, Gold Armlet"
To help in his fight against evil, Gold Armlet (See how stupid that sounds) must recruit four elemental spirits to help him. Each of these spirits can be summoned as a companion, and will allow Ali to use a variety of useful abilities both to solve puzzles and fight enemies.
The main conceit of summoning these allies is something I never saw before. You cannot simply summon any of them at will, but must summon them through a corresponding elemental object. For example, to summon Efreet (the fire elemental), you must use an open flame. If there isn't any nearby, you must backtrack to find one (especially if you actually need him to solve a puzzle).
Behold Efreet, the keeper of flames and incinarator of evil
It is never as annoying as it could be, and is mainly used as another layer of puzzle solving.
Speaking of puzzles, they are one of the obstacles in the game's levels along with mild platforming challenges and enemies. They are rarely memorable ,but they are a welcome distraction. Especially in the game's dungeon's, which are fun and well paced.
The same cannot be said of the game's more "open" areas, which scroll poorly, and are barren of any interesting objects.
Good Dungeons: +3
Nice Variety of Elemental Powers: +3
Barren Open Areas: -2
"I appear from the void to become your shadow"
Naturally, coming at the end of the Genesis's lifecycle, Beyond Oasis had the entire library of the console to learn from. This is showcased in its technical achievement, which allow for smooth gameplay, great graphics and animation, and even some nice looking pixel built "scenes".
Starting with the game's graphics, while the playground is not anything special, both the sprites and the background is absolutely stellar. Especially the sprites, which are large, detailed, and animate well.
Take the giants for example. They look physically imposing, and the walk around with a sense of weight thanks to the detail in their design and animation. Having several of them on screen, you would imagine an earlier Genesis game would have some noticeable frame drops.
Of course, Ali perfectly showcase the game's technical abilities. Comparing him to any protagonist in a Top Down action adventure game, he moves with more fluidity and style than any of them. The animations employed here are responsible for making the quick action gameplay possible.
Bosses best showcase the game's graphical muscles
A similar level of care and ambition went on to compose the music of the game, which aims to be both unique and atmospheric. Unfortunately, it succeeds, but at the cost of being boring to listen to, and a poor compliment to the colorful graphics we see on screen..
Obviously, Yuzo Koshiro (a very good composer) had an ambitious composition on his mind, but neither the Genesis nor the game could have made that ambition a reality.
Great Graphics: +5
Poor Soundtrack: -2
As with many late games in both the SNES and Genesis life cycle, Beyond Oasis could have been an instant classic if released earlier. Yet, we wonder if it was possible for any development team to get as much of the Genesis in an earlier period.
Unfortunately, because it was released so late, this is one game that was unfairly ignored by the masses, even if appreciated by those who luckily played it at the time.
I think making these scene's was more difficult than you may think
1- Items in dungeons reset if you exit and enter.
2- There are orbs that increase your magic points scattered around the world.
3- When you defeat a lot of enemies, you sometimes get a big heart piece that increases your health.
4- Try and always keep some health items ready.
5- If you have the water elemental out, you can restore your health.
6- You recover magic points if you don't have an elemental summoned.
Finally, I am getting into the Genesis groove. Frankly, most of the game's I have played out of the top 20 were a semi-waste of my time. It is games like Beyond Oasis that I look for when doing these reviews. Little unknown gems that are really fun to play,
Next game on the list, at #10, is not a little known gem. Contra: Hard Corps is one of the best know games on the series's history, and one that might convince me to enjoy brutal shooters.
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