> The Genesis spawned a great many of what I'd call enduring
16 bit games. The most addictive of which easily fell into the role playing
game genre. Beyond Oasis, aka The Story of Thor
in Europe and Japan, stands out as one of a few great Action/RPGs developed
for Sega's 16 bit console because it introduces Streets
of Rage style combat to typical puzzle-laden Action/RPG gameplay.
> You play the role of prince Ali of the kingdom of Oasis who discovers
a gold armlet on a small island not far off the coast during one of his
regular treasure hunts. A strange voice calls out to Ali asking him to
wear it. When he puts on the gold armlet the remnants of its former owner
speaks to Ali, telling him that the armlet he now wears is one of a pair
and that the other silver armlet has possessed someone else who threatens
to bring destruction to his homeland. He tells the tale of the two previous
wielders of both armlets, who fought one another in the Shadowlands a long
time ago. Reharl used his gold armlet to control the power of elemental
spirits, and Agito used his silver armlet to create chaos. The ensuing
conflict between the two culminated in both their deaths and the armlets
were lost with time. Now you have been chosen to wear the gold armlet and
search for the elemental spirits to aid you against the new wearer of the
silver armlet. With his last words, the island be gins to shake and you
barely manage to escape as it sinks into the sea.
> Naturally, you must hunt down the wielder of the silver armlet in order
to stop disaster before it starts in the tranquil kingdom of Oasis. You
can travel anywhere you want within the game world, but blocked routes
mean you have to complete certain quests before you can travel further.
> The visuals look like they came straight out of a cartoon; the game sprites
and backgrounds are very colorful indeed. The sprites are all nicely drawn
and have smooth animation. I was surprised by the fluid animation of the
introduction sequence. The game is played from a top down view where Ali
remains at the center of the screen at all times unless he's moving to
the edge of a map. It keeps the action nicely centered most of the time.
> Ali has a wide range of moves (some initiated by certain D-Pad combinations),
and even fast combo attacks which are a good way to vent aggression. Ali
begins the game with a dagger but there are a good amount of deadly weapons
he can bring to bear against his foes including swords, crossbows, bombs,
and my favorite weapon of all, flaming swords. The only problem is they
have a limited amount of uses before they disappear. Don't worry though,
as you can find plenty lying around in the game. The reach of his slashing
attack (initiated by holding down the attack button then letting go) is
extended by swords, and using a sword turns the usual jumping kick into
a jumping downward slash. As I said, Ali has a wide range of attacks only
further increased by the weapons you can find. Enemies are actually fun
to kill with all these attacks at your disposal, rather than a chore or
something you'd want to avoid (some are unavoidable anyway because they
drop keys to help you on your path). Good thing they constantly respawn
in every map. It is a shame armor, whether bought or found, doesn't exist
in this game. Still, Ali can store a large number of life replenishing
items and weapons in his inventory for a rainy day.
> The best weapons of all are perhaps the elemental spirits. Once one is
found they can be summoned by directing energy from your armlet at a corresponding
element. The fire elemental can only be summoned by projecting your armlet
at fire and so on. They each have useful abilities and are required to
unblock passages and solve puzzles. They cannot remain at your side forever,
because their power diminishes while summoned or when their powers are
put to use.
> The music was composed by Yuzo Koshiro of Revenge
of Shinobi and Streets of Rage fame. It sets
the mood of each location quite well, generally sticking to the background,
and only intruding on your ears when in a dangerous place, or when encountering
a boss. When it comes to describing music I really am at a loss for words,
though. The game sounds, like the slashing of swords and the roars of fallen
enemies, aren't bad. Good by Genesis standards at least.
> As you pursue your quest you'll encounter huge bosses (usually at the
end of a dungeon) which make even those seen in Light
Crusader proud (a surprising thing considering the bosses in
Treasure's Light Crusader in turn make most 16 bit RPG bosses
seem small in comparison). The regular enemies provide a nice challenge,
especially the armored soldiers you meet who wield all manner of weapons.
> One thing worth noting is that you can save your game anywhere except
in a dungeon area and dungeons reset their puzzles if you leave them (fighting
through an entire dungeon and killing the end boss in one trip is therefore
the only way to complete it). Imagine just how fun that can be.
> The length of this game is an issue, like many RPGs, but the combat alone
is enough to keep fans coming back for more. Plus the game is full of secrets
and hidden areas containing treasure such as emeralds that permanently
increase the power of the elemental spirits. In some cases you'll be returning
to old dungeons to find them.
> The Story of Thor / Beyond Oasis is one of the best Action/RPGs
available for the Genesis next to Landstalker,
of Centy / Soleil, and Light Crusader. If the
game was twice as long, I'd rank it as the best one among them. The 16
bit Sega console certainly has no shortage of great RPGs.
Geoffrey Duke ~
9.3 | Graphics: 9.5 | Control: 9.5 | Sound: 9.0 | Fun: 9.0