Although Disney beat Sega to the punch when it came to heroes named Ali in the entertainment industry (Aladdin and Ali are close enough, and later in the movie, they did call him prince Ali), Sega did produce a nice little cartridge-shaped package of Arabian joy called Beyond Oasis, starring that lovable and blond warrior Ali. Although this game doesn’t have many similarities to the movie, I did find it to be an interesting little pile of programming, and here’s my review.
Many years ago, on the island of Oasis, a battle of epic proportions took place. Reharl and Agito, a pair of mighty wizards, fought each other for control of the island. Reharl used a powerful weapon known as the Gold Armlet, an item that could control all the spirits of order in the universe. Agito carried the armlet’s twin, the Silver Armlet, with which he ruled over chaos and could destroy reality. The battle resulted in the deaths of both wizards, and the Armlets were seemingly lost forever…
Ali, warrior, prince, archeologist, and blond kid, hated the drudgery of the royal lifestyle. In order to escape from the boredom, he would often explore the land for treasure. On one of these archeological digs, he stumbled across a very unusual find. Amidst a pile of jewels and gold, he found a strange armlet. A voice spoke to him, informing him that he had actually found the ancient Gold Armlet. The voice continued, speaking of an unfortunate soul who was possessed by the Silver Armlet, and unless Ali stops the poor fool, all shall be lost. Ali returns home, but an army of rat men and a hulking behemoth of a man soon assault him. After defeating the puny foes with his trusty knife, he decides to make sure that the invading force hasn’t attacked the castle of his father and sister. The path beyond is for you to follow…
Beyond Oasis is an Action/RPG in which you control Ali from an overhead point of view. Ali runs from one area of the island of Oasis to another, wielding one of his four different weapon types (Dagger, Sword, Bomb, or Crossbow) or using his Armlet to control one of his four friendly elemental allies (Dytto, the water pixie, Efreet, the burning skull-buster, Shade, the invisible lifeguard, and Bow, the hungry, hungry, house plant). The game is very action based, throwing countless enemies at you at all times and giving you many different special moves to perform, but there is also a plethora of puzzles to solve.
Most of your weapons eventually break, but there are exceptions. Ali’s knife is invincible, as well as a bundle of other offensive goodies that a careful explorer will be rewarded with. The bottomless-pit concept has been used, and although they only cause some damage instead of instant death, skillful leaping is required to get through the game. Your elementals can be summoned using your Gold Armlet, which shoots out a ball of light when activated. If the ball hits a source of some element, the corresponding elemental will appear at your side and ready to go.
Having an elemental does put a strain on your magic bar, and if you tell it to do a special move, your SP (Spirit Points) will be consumed even faster. Fortunately, finding elemental jewels can increase these points. Your life bar also increases through item finding. Enemies will occasionally drop heart containers, and each of these will help Ali take a licking and keep on ticking. You can collect items like meat and cheese to restore life and magic when they’re running low. There are few times when your goals are hard to understand, because the game’s map screen shows you exactly where you have to go. Although the fighting did get repetitive after a while due to the easy and repeating enemies (I thought the bosses were tricky though), I have to say that the Gameplay in BO (::giggle::) was pretty good, earning itself an 87%.
As one of the later games for the Genesis, Beyond Oasis is expected to have high quality visuals, and unfortunately, you might be a little disappointed. Although things are a bit blocky, the opening movie was nice, and many of the bosses are impressive. They could have been more original, but that’s all right. One major problem with the sights of Beyond Oasis is the lack of enemy types. When you first start, new things show up at every corner, but after you get through the first two dungeons, things get a little old and everything is palette swapped. Sure, the knights have pretty new colors, but there is definitely a slight problem here.
The backgrounds are all average, with one or two exceptions at most. A strong point that I have to mention is that all of the special moves and character motions look smooth and show that the game’s makers didn’t rush things. Although there were games that looked far better, Beyond Oasis wasn’t too bad visually, and Graphics get an 84%.
The music of Beyond Oasis was average for the most part, but there were admittedly exceptions to this general rule. I doubt Yuzo Koshiro, the brains behind the melodies, spent too much mental muscle when it came to making BO (::chuckle::). The sounds were nice, using not only one or two grunts or groans, but seven (I think… you might want to check that)! That’s right, each and every person you knock silly will sound different than the one before! Even with this little boost and some decent explosions, the audio in Beyond Oasis was only average at best, and Sound/Music gets an 82%.
The plot was a weak point in Beyond Oasis. Most of it is explained to you in the beginning and the rest is explained in short bursts whenever you encounter your enemy, Silver Armlet. There is only one town in the entire game and this greatly reduces the number of characters for Ali to interact with. Beyond Oasis was not meant to be that much of a story, relying on enemy pummeling and exploration to keep the players interested. The game is short and has a nice amount of replay value, but the story just didn’t cut it. Storyline gets a 69%.
The number of special moves to perform in Beyond Oasis is very nice, but they get in the way from time to time. You can do the movements easily enough, and it’s not too hard to time your attacks properly, but they get activated in the worst places possible. Pressing back, forward, and then attack will result in a long, powerful back flipping slash, but what happens when you accidentally do this when trying to send out a small forward jab in order to stop an oncoming opponent? You get hit in mid air and miss a perfectly good chance to hurt something. However, most of the time, this problem doesn’t show up leaving you grade-A, top-of-the-line combat controlled comfort, and Control gets a 93%.
Sadly, Beyond Oasis lacked much of the quality that other games had at the time, and although it was fun, it had many weaknesses. Poor graphics and dull music handicapped it, and it’s hard for any game to overcome that. It gave a good effort, but it just doesn’t stand out. Overall, Beyond Oasis gets an 78%.
Gameplay – No apple stealing for this Ali. 87%
Graphics – Fine and Fuzzy. 84%
Sound/Music – So many screams, so many memories… 82%
Storyline – About as deep as a kiddy pool. 73%
Controls – He fought the galloping hordes, he beats up bad guys with swords, he sent them back to their lords, oh, prince Ali! 93%
Overall – Not bad, but there have been better. 81%