(Game Gear)

Defenders of Oasis (Game Gear)

Game Review

Defenders of Oasis Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Damien McFerran

Water way to go

Given the staggering popularity of the RPG genre, it’s amazing that so few titles have broken free of the seemingly obligatory European fantasy setting. Most notable entries tend to feature swords, knights, dragons and all the usual medieval trappings, and as a result some old-school role-playing titles are genuinely difficult to tell apart.

That’s what makes Sega’s Defenders of Oasis such a refreshing change. Although it boasts a fantasy setting, it instead chooses an Arabian theme over a European one. In place of castles you have ornate desert palaces, and in the place of pipe-smoking wizards you have bald-headed genies. This is a purely stylistic change of course; for the most part, Defenders of Oasis subscribes to the same well-worn JRPG blueprint as its contemporaries, but it’s surprising how much a difference a change of scenery makes.

Placed in the billowing pantaloons of the somewhat obnoxious Prince of Shanadar, you face a fairly typical plot involving evil forces invading your kingdom. Although the Prince begins his quest on his own, he is soon joined by three companions - Saleem the sailor, Agmar the thief and a Genie. The Genie isn’t your traditional RPG character, and doesn’t level-up through combat like the others do. Instead, you have to spend gold upgrading his lamp to boost his abilities. He’s possibly the most vital member of your team though, as he’s the only one that can harness the power of magic.

Your other warriors aren’t totally useless, despite their lack of magical ability. Each has a special skill which can be used in combat. The Prince can escape the battle and drop the party back to the map screen, while Saleem is able to perform a deadly dance which harms several foes at once. Agmar has a "hide" command which allows him to avoid damage for a single turn - a fitting skill for a thief.

Battles in Defenders of Oasis don’t really hold any surprises. They’re strictly turn-based and take place on a black screen, with just your enemies in view. Such limited presentation is forgivable when you consider both the age of the game and the humble nature of the host platform, but the lack of dynamic action does mean that fights struggle to hold your attention as well as they possibly could do.

Outside of combat, you view proceedings from a traditional top-down 2D perspective. These segments look slightly better, although there’s an odd disparity between the Prince and the rest of the game’s characters — his head is easily twice the size of everyone else’s. If you can get over this rather odd sizing issue then there’s lots to like here — it goes without saying that Defenders of Oasis looks poor compared to the 16-bit RPGs of the same era, but for a Game Gear title it is perfectly acceptable. Animated cut-scenes do their bit to raise the level of presentation even further.

Fighting valiantly against the limitations of the Game Gear’s sound hardware is Defenders of Oasis’ soundtrack. It’s actually not bad at all, with some catchy tunes to accompany the dungeon-crawling and monster-slaying. The sound effects are slightly less impressive, with the typical selection of low-grade noises standing in for sword blows and magical attacks.

Conclusion

Back in 1992, Defenders of Oasis was a revelation for Game Gear fans, largely due to the fact that the console had suffered a drought (no pun intended) of notable exclusive software up to that point. It was the system’s first decent RPG adventure and rightly found plenty of fans. Played today, its lustre has diminished somewhat, but it’s still well worth a look — especially if you’re seeking an RPG with a slightly different theme and are a fan of Sega’s own Phantasy Star series.

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User Comments (22)

Metalslime

#1

Metalslime said:

The selection of RPGs on the 3DS is abysmal in Europe, due to the region lock we're years behind even the US. Luckily Sega is pumping out these Gamegear classics which makes me a little less angry but Fire Emblem and 2 other cheap port RPGs (SMT:DSO and Tales of the Abyss) do not make a worthy successor to the DS's awesome RPG catalogue. I am dissapoint

unrandomsam

#5

unrandomsam said:

It has reverted again to the situation like it was in the SNES days. (PAL gets the worst of all worlds).

These gamegear classics are not really classics (If you take them to mean great and old (And still worth playing) as opposed to just old). Most of them are worse than the master system versions (Which doesn't make sense when you couild get a peripheral to run the actual master system version).

Gameboy Color Dragon Quest I & II or Dragon Quest III are far superior.

(But it would be like Square Enix to just release the NES versions which are almost unplayable to maximise revenue).

Like Capcom putting no effort into the Megaman Games. (They could have made a 3D Classic of MegaMan the Wily Wars instead even sold it for more).

Or even done them one by one just getting rid of the flickering sprites and switching to the genesis sprites.

There is a video of a fan port of the original Megaman to the PC Engine and looks close to perfect.

(The sprite flicker gives me headaches totally not worth it regardless of how good the game is).

unrandomsam

#6

unrandomsam said:

@Metalslime The system needs to be doing OK before most of those RPG's even start being made. (At least fairly recently in Japan some were still being released for PSP). Whether most of them will ever reach Europe I am starting to doubt. (Not been such a problem since the SNES days in PAL regions).

Going to get a US Wii U should have done the same with my 3DS XL.

RetrogamerFan

#7

RetrogamerFan said:

Excellent review. I'm a big fan of the first four Phantasy Star games, so thats a strong recommendation to me. Getting quite a backlog of these GG games to play now.

shinobi88

#8

shinobi88 said:

Turn-based RPGs ain't my thing. But I'm hoping Sega one day brings its BIG Game Gear guns like Streets of Rage 1 & 2, Ristar, Gunstar Heroes, and Shinobi II

MAB

#9

MAB said:

I have been playing this for a few days now, bloody great little game... Conan the Barbarian/Fabio box art FTW ;)

TheAdza

#13

TheAdza said:

I'm enjoying these Gamegear games. I like being able to stretch the screen too.
I wonder if what else we will get?

BulbasaurusRex

#15

BulbasaurusRex said:

So it's just a run-of-the-mill 8-bit RPG that only stands out by its semi-unique setting and genie combat. I'll pass.

Joygame51

#16

Joygame51 said:

So far I have only downloaded Columns from the GG Virtual console group , Qix from the Nintendo group and 3D classics Kirby Adventures... Not sure I want this .

Ivanek

#17

Ivanek said:

Excellent game, I must have completed it thrice back in the days :-)
Only downside is the frequency of random encounters.
Tip: talk to the sheep!

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