Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Beyond Oasis Review

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 In an effort to fulfill the promise I made in my “Sega Gap” post, I decided to make my last game of #ARPGAugust something from the Sega Genesis library. After playing several other great games in the action RPG genre this year such as Blossom Tales and Ys, the bar was set quite high. Here’s how it faired:

Overview

Beyond Oasis is an action RPG that was originally released in 1994 for the Sega Genesis. In the game, the protagonist, Prince Ali, finds a golden armlet that gives him the ability to summon magical creatures. He travels around the kingdom to find new creatures to summon and hunt down his nemesis who wields the power of the silver armlet. The game has been a part of many Sega classic collections; I played it as part of the Sega Mega Drive & Genesis Classics package on PC.


Pros
  • This game’s graphics look very sharp. The world features a bright color pallet and the large sprites feature a nice level of detail and distinct animations.
  • Rather than just slashing a sword like most ARPG characters, Ali has diverse arsenal of moves. In addition to sword swipes, he can punch, kick, perform areal strikes, and equip several types of swords, bows, and bombs. In combat, the way he moves reminds me of an arcade beat’em up game.
  • The summon creatures are Beyond Oasis’s defining feature. I liked that summoning requires using a feature of the environment that corresponds with the creature’s element. For example, summoning the water sprite requires aiming the golden armlet’s beam at a water feature. However, this isn’t just limited to the obvious lakes and streams, any source of water will work, even tiny drops of water coming from a cave ceiling. Similarly, the shade spirit, that’s summoned from mirrors, can be summoned off of other reflective surfaces, such as enemies wearing shiny metallic armor. Figuring out how and when to summon each creature and using their abilities to solve puzzles, is easily the most interesting part of the game.

Cons
  • Boss battles at the end of dungeons tend to be pretty dull. Most of them just consist of running around to avoid the enemies special attack, and then running in and spamming the attack button while they recharge. In some battles, I just abused healing items so that I could play sloppily and not worry if I got hit.
  • This game is viewed from a 3/4 top-down perspective but has segments that require precision platforming on tiny moving platforms. Also, Ali’s movements are very slippery. Thus, neither the game’s camera nor controls are set up for platforming, making these segments incredibly frustrating. I save-scummed my way through them.
  • While the summon creatures are fun to use for puzzle solving, they don’t control very well. Once summoned, they wander around on their own and the player has to wait for them to get into the right position before triggering one of their special moves. This was workable for puzzle solving, but made the creatures of little value in combat.
  • The story of this game is extremely bare bones, more comparable to an NES game than Beyond Oasis’s 16-bit contemporaries. Basically, because Ali found the Gold Armlet, it’s his destiny to gather the summon creatures and defeat the wielder of the Silver Armlet. Dialog in the game consists of short choppy sentences that don’t give the characters much personality. There is one noteworthy plot twist toward the end, but that lack of character personality or progression caused it to have little impact.
  • One of the reasons I was excited to play Beyond Oasis is that the soundtrack was composed by Yuzo Koshiro, who also composed the music in Ys series (which I absolutely love). I’m not sure what went wrong here, but I found that the music in Beyond Oasis sounded very out of place, at times to the point of being irritating.
Ultimately, the problem with Beyond Oasis is that it’s not deep enough for an RPG or adventure game, but not tight enough for an action game. With the exceptions of its summoning mechanics and graphics, the game feels more primitive than competing games in its genre that had come out before it such as Ys, A Link to the Past, and Illusion of Gaia. Despite, the game’s short length (< 7 hours), there were several points where I strongly considered dropping the game, putting Beyond Oasis firmly into sub 3-star territory.

Score:⭐⭐
Completion Time: 5 hours, 51 minutes

In stead of picking up Beyond Oasis, I would recomend picking up the similary named action RPG, Ever Oasis, for the 3DS. If you'd like to get this overlooked late-3DS gem while also supporting this blog, you can use this affliate link: Ever Oasis - 3DS 

 

 

3 comments:

  1. Interesting review, what do you plan to review next?

    The thoughts on plot made me think, what do you like to see in a plot for RPG?

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    Replies
    1. Even though I didn't end up giving this game a positive review, I still wanted to say thanks for recommending it! It was still interesting to play from a historical perspective. While I listed this game's story as a con, I don't necessarily think an action-oriented game like this needs a deep or complex plot. It's just in this case, since I had issues with several other aspects of the game, a strong story to motivate me through would have helped.

      As for what I like in an RPG story in general, that's kind of hard to pin down. Some general themes I like are: going on a journey, mystery, time travel, challenging fate/destiny, conflicts between technology and nature or religion and science, conspiracies, and ensemble casts with interesting characters.
      Some games with plots that stuck with me: Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 10, Xenoblade, Life is Strange, Fire Emblem Awakening, Breath of Fire 3, The Witcher 2

      As for what I plan to review next, I recently reviewed The Adventure Pals. Coming up next I'll be reviewing either Battle Chef Brigade or Octopath Traveler. I'm also considering writing impressions of Dragalia Lost. I haven't decided what Genesis game I'll play next or when I'll play it yet.

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    2. What stuck with you in Fire Emblem Awakening's plot?

      For the next Genesis Game, how about Shining Force, given our discussion on Fire Emblem?

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