Defenders of Oasis is a traditional RPG for the Sega Game Gear. It takes place in a desert civilization, with an appropriately fitting Arabian culture. The hero of Defenders of Oasis is the Prince of Shanadar. As the game begins, the Prince wakes up for what he thinks will be a typical day in Shanadar, with one exception; the Princess of the neighboring kingdom of Mahamood will be visiting.
After he messes up greeting his father, the king (as usual), he is free to explore the castle and city. While checking the castle’s library, he learns about an important piece of Shanadar’s history. According to the books, the evil wizard Ahriman once controlled Shanadar and the surrounding countries. A hero named Jamseed was able to defeat Ahriman and seal him into another dimension using 3 magic rings and a Genie. After that, Jamseed was chosen to be the new king of Shanadar. The Genie’s lamp was sealed in the basement, only to be brought out if necessary. Jamseed kept one of the 3 rings, and the other 2 were given to his friends. The rings were separated because the legends say if Ahriman’s followers ever got ahold of them, they could be used to re-open the barriers that keep Ahriman in the Dark Dimension, thus allowing him to return to the real world.
After the history lesson, the young Prince goes to the town to see if the king’s guests have arrived. He finds the aforementioned Princess at the tavern, where she is being bugged by a few ruffians. This is where the player is introduced to the battle system for the first time. After scaring the punks away, the Prince returns to the castle. Late that following night, an attendant awakens the Prince and tells him that Shanadar is under attack by the Empire. Before the king orders his son to escape with the Princess, he gives him a very impotant item “Ring #2” and tells the Prince “Guard it with your life.”
In Defenders of Oasis, you eventually acquire a team of 4 heroes. They all join fairly early in the game, and once they do, it’s permanent. The first is the Prince of Shanadar. He has the highest strength and can use many powerful weapons that the other 3 can’t. His main weakness is that he has the lowest speed, and his Hit Rate is less than perfect. The Prince’s special move (if you can call it a special move), is the “Run” command, which is nothing more than an attempt to escape the battle.
The second character to join is a Genie. The Genie is very different from the other 3. The Genie equips no items nor does he gain any levels. His statistics can only be increased by using items. Items such as Hemp and Silk are used to polish the lamp, which increases the Genie’s max MP. The Genie gains more HP when items like Plating and Gilding are used to plate the lamp. Using Crystals on the lamp gives the Genie higher defense. The Genie’s other stats, such as his attack and speed, are the same all throughout the game. As a result, the scores seem powerfully high at first, but they soon become average or, in the case of his attack, low as you meet more powerful monsters. The Genie’s special move is Magic, as only the Genie has spells or MP. The Genie’s spells include healing, auxiliary, and attack magic, and most are fairly useful. Some, like the healing spells, are vital.
The next ally is Saleem. Saleem is the first mate of the ship that the Princess used to travel to Shanadar, and son of the captain. Saleem is faster than the Prince, but has less attacking power. He is also the most durable of the group, having the highest max HP and Stamina scores. Saleem’s special move is “Dance”, an attack that hits all the enemies, but for less than a normal strike.
Finally, the last ally to join is Agmar. Agmar is a thief who was caught stealing from the empire and thrown in jail for it. Agmar is the fastest character, and has very good strength, but his defense and HP are less than either the Prince’s or Saleem’s. Agmar’s special move is “Hide”. No physical attacks can touch him while he is hiding, but he is still vulnerable to magic. When Agmar gets a turn while hiding, he can use his “Assault” attack. “Assault” hits a single target for a great deal more damage than a normal strike.
Defenders of Oasis is a traditional RPG. The battle system is turn based. Allies/monsters get their turns in an order based on speed. Characters with high speed will receive more turns than slower ones. Traveling and dungeon exploring are done on 2-D maps. Almost all dungeons have a boss enemy, and there are also difficult fights that occur at key events. Character conversation is fairly frequent, and their personalities are developed fairly well. Saving is never an issue because the game saves automatically when it is turned off or stopped somehow (even if it freezes or the cartridge is yanked out, it still saves). This of course, means that you can’t “take back” any actions by resetting and going back to where you last saved.
DoO features some of the best graphics possible on an 8-Bit machine. While you are walking, the graphics consist of brilliant 2-D landscapes and colorful sprites for people and creatures. The monsters in battle are also very colorful and are drawn nicely. However, graphics in battle are only the still pictures of the monsters. The main drawback of the battle graphics is that there is no animation for attacks or special effects for magic. There is a small bit of movement for when an enemy hides or flies into the air. When that happens, you see the enemy move up or to the side and disappear, but other than that there is no animation in battles.
The music in Defenders of Oasis is very well done. Most of the tunes fit the situation, and some are even quite memorable. The sound usually doesn’t get too repetitive or annoying, but it does happen.
If you’re looking for a quality traditional 2-D RPG for a portable system, Defenders of Oasis delivers. The Game Gear has very few RPG or games in related genres, so Defenders of Oasis makes a fine contribution to any portable software library. If you want something fun to do on your next long car/plane trip, consider getting this game (if you can find it).