TURN TO CHANNEL 3: Don’t overlook ‘Beyond Oasis’ as a classic RPG the second time around
Whenever I’m in the middle of a debate about the quality of a classic game, one of the things I mention quite often is that those games would be successful regardless of what console they were on. These are the titles that have undeniable charm, quality, and lasting impact on the industry as a whole, and while many of these titles are obvious to those in the know, there are some that don’t quite get the recognition they deserve, possibly because, despite these games being deserving of universal love from retro gamers, fanboyism rears its ugly head.
If it isn’t on that gamer’s console of choice, then it must automatically be overrated garbage. I started writing Turn to Channel 3 a few years ago to make many gamers, including myself, more open to experiencing games they normally wouldn’t, because at the end of the day, aren’t video games supposed to be fun? If they’re fun, what difference does it make what console it is on?
Today we are going to discuss “Beyond Oasis” here during “Why Isn’t Nick Outside?” month here on Turn to Channel 3, and yes, it was ported on the Sega Genesis only back in the day, so why would I, a loyal and faithful servant to all things Nintendo, care about a Sega Genesis game? Because I grew up with it in the homes of my friends and relatives, that’s why! Retro gaming is about a shared nostalgia, of remembering those moments when we had fun as kids, because chances are, if a game moved us in any way, we didn’t care what company was behind the console that allowed us to enjoy it. The bigger question is why should YOU care about “Beyond Oasis?” Fret not – I plan on telling you.
“Beyond Oasis” (Sega Genesis)
I don’t say this as a poke against it, but in an era where games like “EarthBound,” “Secret of Mana,” and “Final Fantasy III” were seemingly lapping most Genesis RPGs in overall quality or at least fanfare and exposure, it would be easy for most gamers to overlook “Beyond Oasis,” but I’d caution you, dear reader, not to do the same, for inside “Beyond Oasis” are some great tunes to start, fitting the overall theme of the game and leaving you thirsting for adventure as you make your way through.
Sure, these songs may not be comparable to some of the sheer masterpieces in those aforementioned titles, but that’s the glorious thing about classic games – they don’t need to sound like anything else, they can carve their own niche, and with a solid soundtrack and some great sound effects to accompany it, “Beyond Oasis” does just that.
At first glance, one of the most notable things about “Beyond Oasis” is the bright, seemingly storybook-style graphics that leap right out at you, and I think a game with this much adventure, challenge, and entertainment really needs that to stand out from the crowd. Our hero looks great, the environments he encounters are just as good, and the enemies aren’t slouches either in the design department. At the end of the day, we all have that style of artwork we prefer in a game over others of the same genre, and I can certainly see how some gamers prefer this style versus the more well-known works from the folks behind “Final Fantasy,” “Chrono Trigger,” or “EarthBound” RPGs, just to name a few.
As “Secret of Mana” did for the SNES, one could certainly make the argument that “Beyond Oasis” was the Genesis equivalent as far as action RPGs go. While I’ve always enjoyed your standard turn-based RPG, I have a sweet spot for these action RPGs because there is no waiting – you start on your journey, you do battle with enemies, and you don’t have to wait for your turn to attack in battle.
In some ways, “Beyond Oasis” is even different from games like “Secret of Mana” and “Illusion of Gaia” on the SNES in that there are no extensive menus, no vast storyline to comprehend, it’s straight to the point, there’s a storyline you can grasp and appreciate, and the game mechanics are not hard to master once you get your feet wet. “Beyond Oasis” has to do with harnessing the powers of elemental spirits you obtain through conquering their shrines and using the skills you learn along the way to finish the game. Long before the era of cut scenes and when graphical advancements in RPGs became a common trend in the genre, it was all about giving the gamer a great adventure, and with all due respect to games like the “Phantasy Star” series as well as the “Shining Force” titles and “Sword of Vermilion,” “Beyond Oasis” kept me entertained throughout my time playing it, and like I said, at the end of the day, if it can do that, who cares what console it’s on?
Seemingly daily, the price of “Beyond Oasis” goes up, for a few reasons. To start, it really is a quality title on the Sega Genesis, and in an era where companies were just trying to get as many games out as possible, it made it that much more difficult to stand out from the crowd, but “Beyond Oasis” does this with ease, and it shows. Second, it came out in an era when both the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo were beginning their final runs as far as the most beloved and impressive consoles of the time, and as is common with collecting for any console, the last years seem to contain the most well-done and thus expensive games to purchase.
Lastly, as I’m known to remind anyone who loves the Sega Genesis, few quality games of this nature exist in the console’s library. Not every “Phantasy Star” was good, “Sword of Vermilion” was average to most, and “Shining Force” had only two entries in the series and not everyone liked both titles, so if you’re someone into collecting these games for the Sega Genesis, your options are few and, thus, can become costly. Still, there’s no question that if you collect retro games at all, “Beyond Oasis” needs to be on your shelf with the rest of your Genesis titles.
I hope you enjoyed this review. Next week, we’ll wrap up the month of July with a unique title for the SNES that certainly kept me busy during many summers. Until then, please, go outside and play, unless you want to end up like me – 34, balding, with a ton of useless video game knowledge.
Oh yeah, and game on!
Note: All ratings for Turn to Channel 3 are based on a scale of 1-10.
by Nick DeMarco
Nick DeMarco is a blogger, retro video game small business owner, and lover of all things retro. Don't get stuck on an elevator with him, unless you know who Ace Harding is and why Crystal Pepsi deserves just as big a comeback as Surge.