BEYOND OASIS / Sega / Genesis

Beyond Oasis seems primarily like sort of a response to Squaresoft's Secret of Mana, but there's a few other influences floating around in this soup. The setting and particularly the art style obviously owe a little something to Disney's Aladdin, there's at least a dash of Zelda 3 in the form of dungeon logic puzzles, and the fighting engine has a decided Streets of Rage feel to it (odd as that may seem for a fantasy game).

Opening with a colorful and fairly impressive animated sequence of cutscenes, Oasis tells the story of the mysteriously Aryan-looking prince of a sort of Arabian Nights-esque fantasy land, who somehow accidentaly uncovers a gold armlet that formerly belonged to a powerful wizard and blah de blah destruction and chaos etc go forth and conquer the frontiers of thy self. Oasis's plot is probably its weakest element - it's generic and forgettable, serving only as a mechanism to keep you moving between monster-filled environs. The game largely revolves around fighting, exception of some switch-flipping and block-pushing puzzles here and again.

Fortunately the battle engine is pretty solid, as the game relies so heavily upon it. You obtain a number of weapon types, from daggers to swords to crossbows. Most of the weapons you happen across have a limited number of uses, however - so quite a bit of time is spent fighting using your stock Dagger, which is always available. You can tap the button for quick attacks that build into a combo, or hold it for a second to charge up a more powerful swing. You can also tap twice in a direction to run, and execute rushing and jumping attacks. As mentioned before the fights have a very Streets of Rage feel with you fighting off groups of enemies at once and the life bar of whom you are currently attacking popping up as you rattle off your meaty strings of hits. There's also some secret maneuvers that can be accessed by inputting a Street Fighter-like movements. Additionaly some "summons" can be obtained that cast elemental magic for you, though the element that they are aligned with must be present on the screen for them to be able to do their thing. The mechanics are on the whole a little closer to Secret of Mana than Zelda, but powering up is the reverse - though there's a gratuitous "kill counter" on your status screen there is no levelling up, you power up by picking up hearts that certain foes drop. Unlike Zelda, there's not much to explore outside the linear path that the quest puts you on.

Purely from a technical standpoint, Oasis is derivative of a number of games but it takes the good bits from each of them and executes them very well. However, despite its pretty graphics and fluid animation, it doesn't feel like it has much soul. It feels like a game engine cobbled together from other ideas with a story grafted on as an afterthought. The plot is inane, the characters are paper thin and you won't walk away caring about or remembering any of them. It plays very well and very smoothly, but you're just beating heads for the sake of beating heads. Whether that's acceptable or not is up to you to decide.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video