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Retro Review: Beyond Oasis

On 04/10/2020 at 08:12 AM by The Last Ninja

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This top-down adventure game is a rare jewel on the Genesis

The Genesis was known for several things--fighting games, fast and exciting platformers, excellent shooters, but you'll discover that there are very few top-down adventure games. In this regard, Beyond Oasis is a jewel. It's the closest thing you'll find to a Zelda game on Sega's 16-bit console. Developed by Ancient and published by Sega, the game was released in 1995, and I'm happy to say that it is excellent. 

Before the game even starts you're treated to an impressive opening. The story unfolds with semi-animated cutscenes. Prince Ali (not related to the Disney character) finds a gold armlet which can give him magical powers. But he is warned that someone else has a silver armlet (which is only used for chaos), and these two armlets are rivals. So Ali must find the person with the silver armlet and defeat him (specifically, destroy the silver armlet). In order to defeat the villain, Ali will need to gain the assistance of four spirits: water, fire, shadow, and earth (it's very Zelda-like, I know). 

pic 1

Gameplay is similar to Zelda without being a total rip-off. Ali can move, attack, crouch, jump, and use his armlet to summon the spirits. His dagger is the default weapon, but he can also use other weapons, such as swords, bombs, and cross bows (but these are limited in use). The combat is much different from Zelda as it's more akin to a beat 'em up. Ali will often resort to kicking enemies and you'll recognize that smacking sound that we love to hear in beat 'em ups (the bad guys even scream when they die). You can also do some cool combo attacks by inputing certain button configurations. Enemies will sometimes drop health items or weapons that Ali can pick up. 

Unlike Zelda, BO is mostly linear. You'll be told exactly where to go ("Ali, you must go to the water shrine to the west"). The overworld isn't too big, which includes a forest, a swamp, an oceanic coast, some mountainous terrain, and a volcano. There's also one village which includes the castle and a sea port. You can check the map at any time to see where you're at, and a white flag will indicate where you need to go next. You can explore if you want, but unfortunately, there aren't any side quests, except for an extra dungeon challenge (a 100 floor challenge). The good news is, you'll never be at a loss for what to do next. 

pic 2

The four spirits give the game some good variety. Using them is a bit weird. Ali must shoot an orb from his armlet at something specific to the spirit to summon them (for example, shooting at water will summon the water spirit Dytto). Each spirit has unique abilities which can be used by pressing A once, double-tapping A, and holding A. It takes a little getting used to. The spirit will follow Ali around automatically, and will also fight enemies automatically, which is great. However, as long as they're out, they drain your SP bar. Certain items will give you SP, and this is something you will have to keep an eye on. A beeping sound will indicate when your SP is getting low (it will also beep when your HP is low). 

BO is most like Zelda when it comes to the dungeons. Here you'll face familiar puzzles such as defeating all enemies in a room, stepping on switches, lighting torches, and finding colored keys to open colored doors. Some of the dungeons have a bit too many doors if you ask me, and traversing between different rooms can be confusing, but the spirits' abilities are used effectively in the dungeons. Also, some of the bosses are very impressive. A few of the bosse are huge and imposing, and thankfully, none of them are too difficult. In fact, I'm happy to say that this game is very beatable (much like a Zelda game). 

pic 3

However, BO does have some flaws. The hit detection can be a problem, especially for enemies that are low on the ground (like snakes). Some dungeons also have platforming sections with moving platforms, and it's difficult to gauge the distance with an overhead perspective. you eventually get the hang of it, but there's a reason A Link to the Past doesn't have platforming. Finally, the music for the game is composed by the legendary Yuzo Koshiro (ActRaiser and Streets of Rage). Unfortunately, the music here is forgettable. Koshiro goes for more of an orchestral score, but there's not a single memorable song in the whole game (the soundtrack is more atmospheric than melody-focused). It's really a shame. 

Final Verdict--4 Stars: Recommended 

This is a great game, and it should not be missed. If you like Zelda games (and who doesn't?) then you will certainly enjoy BO. It's not a difficult game, and it's pretty short too, so take the time to play it if you get the chance. You'll notice that it's also a beautiful game. The graphics are very detailed and colorful with large sprites and great atmosphere. It's just a shame that there are not more games like this on the Genesis. 



Cary Woodham

04/10/2020 at 08:47 AM

This game kind of reminded me of a cross between Secret of Mana and Streets of Rage (gameplay wise).  If I had a Genesis as a kid, I probably would've really been into this game.

You know what game I wish was on the Genesis Mini?  Crusade of Centy.  Now THAT was a Link to the Past ripoff if I ever saw one!

The Last Ninja

04/10/2020 at 06:20 PM

I actually had to look up Crusade of Centy, and wow, it does look like a Zelda rip-off. Neutopia on Turbo Grafx-16 was also a blatant Zelda rip-off. I'm really glad that Beyond Oasis has its own identity. 

Super Step Contributing Writer

04/10/2020 at 04:00 PM

My only issue with Beyond Oasis so far is no minimap, or am I missing it? Cause I am not sure where to go, which was not as much of an issue in LttP. 

The Last Ninja

04/10/2020 at 06:22 PM

If you press start you can then choose the map, which will indicate where to go next with a white flag. This was useful for me on a couple occasions, but I thought the game did a good job of telling you where to go next. 

Super Step Contributing Writer

04/13/2020 at 09:09 PM

I must have forgot that after the first time I put it down. It happens. 


04/10/2020 at 10:19 PM

I played this on a collection a while back. I thought it looked beautiful and I was really getting into it but something stopped me from playing. I'll have to go back and try and beat it. 

The Last Ninja

04/11/2020 at 10:43 AM

It's not a long game, so I think you should try to finish it. The final boss is pretty awesome!

Matt Snee Staff Writer

04/11/2020 at 11:17 AM

Never played this. I probably would have loved it as a kid. Graphics look great. 

The Last Ninja

04/12/2020 at 01:00 AM

Genesis kids must have been really excited to have this, although it can't quite compete with ALTTP (but they could still try to argue that it was better) 

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