Kickin’ It Old School – Beyond Oasis

During the holiday season, I got the opportunity to meet Santa at my local mall. I went right up to him, sat on his lap and punched him in his cherry-red nose for not bringing me a Sega Genesis when I was a kid (I’m not allowed to see Santa at the mall anymore). I mean, why couldn’t he bring me a Genesis? I was a good boy, got good grades and all that. Sure, I got a check minus in penmanship, but who the hell cares about penmanship? Sega had Sonic! And blast processing! I had no idea what that was, I just wanted it!

So thank heavens for the Virtual Console so I can finally get me some Genesis games, since that fat bastard Santa gave the one I asked for to some douchebag. My rule when purchasing VC games is not to buy any games I already have (unless they’re really really good), so really the only games I know on Genesis, Sonic games, were out since I have those on various Gamecube discs. So I asked around and was told to try out Beyond Oasis, since it was “right up my alley”. I said, “I’ll be the judge of that!” Turns out it is, in fact, right up my alley.

Beyond Oasis (1994)

Picture Legend of Zelda’s adventure-type storyline with Final Fight’s gameplay. That’s Beyond Oasis in a nutshell. You control Prince Ali (fabulous he, Ali Ababwa…Aladdin anyone? Anyone? Oh, never mind), who is digging in a cave one day and finds a golden armlet. And it’s a good thing he did, since someone found the evil silver armlet, and if Ali doesn’t use the gold one to summon the four spirits of the world, Water, Fire, Plant and Shadow, the wielder of the silver armlet will take over the world with his armies of chaos. As mentioned before, it’s a very Zelda-ish story: you explore dungeons to find a power long since sealed away to battle the evil one who also wields a power long since sealed away.

The dungeons are more action-oriented than puzzle-oriented, lending to the other element that went into this game. Your enemies include a wide array of monsters, animals and other hideous things you beat up on in Final Fight or Streets of Rage fashion. Using either your default weapon, a dagger you can use an unlimited amount of times, or limited weapons such as swords, a bow and arrow and bombs, in addition to a few magic powers granted to you by each spirit, you use a combination of moves to knock out their health bars. Enemies get bigger and stronger as you progress into the dungeons. Your health and magic bars can be restored using various foods you find, and your magic bar replenishes itself when you’re outside a dungeon.

This game is very fun to play, but it has its flaws. The controls are really stiff. Ali walks too slow, so you have to double-tap the D-pad in the direction you want to run, but while running it’s hard to move anywhere but a straight line. If you want to change direction to kill an enemy or go a different way, you have to stop running, turn, and start again, all in a very un-fluid manner. It gets really tedious after a while. Also, if your timing is off when attacking an enemy, you’ll miss and they’ll attack you, and chances are you’ll be knocked down, after which it’s a bit hard to get back up and fight back, especially if there’s more than one enemy waiting to knock you down again. You could say that adds to the challenge though, I guess, but it gets frustrating.

What really grates me about this game is the music. It basically sounds like a bunch of loud noises strung together only somewhat coherently. I guess it’s supposed to sound like something out of Arabian Nights but it sounds like Arabian Nights if it were composed by Bjork. I end up muting the game and putting my own music on. It’s just loud and annoying (the game’s music, not mine…mine’s awesome). The sound effects when you kill a monster can be a bit irritating too. Graphically, the game is beautiful. The enemies and environments are all extremely smooth and detailed. Must be what that blast processing does.

If I had a Genesis growing up, Beyond Oasis would have been a game I’d have rented a few times but never bought. What I mean is, it’s definitely $8 worth of fun, if you want a good adventure game from the Virtual Console, but it’s not worth much more than that. The controls take some patience, and I suggest you provide your own music, but if you’re interested in a fun adventure game I recommend it, and if not, or if you’ve been spoiled by Zelda or any other deep, immersive RPG adventure, there are definitely better games you can get.

Next Time: We’re going Disney! Hooray!