Defenders of Oasis – Sega Game Gear – 1992

From My all time favourite video games

It can safely be said that I‘m not a fan of mobile gaming.  I have never been tempted to download a game to my phone and the only portable system I have is a barely used Nintendo DS Lite I won many years ago in a competition.  Until I started Defenders of Oasis I didn’t think a mobile system would appear on my blog and I certainly didn‘t think a Game Gear was capable of running a surprisingly good JRPGAs soon as the game comes on it starts telling the back story.

Long ago the world was terrorisd by Ahriman, the Wizard of Darkness. Ahriman was finally defeated by a hero called Jamseed and sealed away using three rings given to him by the Wizard of Light. Although stripped of his power, Ahriman sent his servant, Snake King Zahhark to attack the kingdom of Shanadar which was founded by Jamseed.  Jamseed was defeated and the world was once again plunged into an age of darkness. After 1,000 years a new hero called Fallidoon appeared and defeated Zahhark bringing about a new age of peace. When these events were all but forgotten, the evil Empire of Eflaat rose up and once again Shanadar is threatened….

The game begins with you controlling the unnamed prince of Shanadar, a descendant of Jamseed. On this day Shanadar is due to be visited by the princess from the kingdom of Mahamood. A cut scene has the king telling you to escort the princess from the dock back to the castle.
The first thing that struck me was the quality of the graphics. Bearing in mind the original hardware, I was expecting big blocky graphics, but they were well detailed and colourful, even on a large screen. Gameplay is cut from the same cloth as Dragon Quest and practically every other JRPG in between – a top down tiled view with random encounters and turnbased combat.
I took the opportunity to wander around town which was a bit depressing as the townsfolk do not hold a very high opinion of the prince. I visited the weapon and armour stores but couldn’t afford anything with my 200 dinar, but bought some herbs, holy herb and snake act from the goods shop. I then headed off to the docks only to find the princess missing. She turned up in the tavern being accosted by some ruffians. 

This introduced combat, which is the usual JRPG turn based fight. Winning the combat gave me some more dinar and enough experience to go up a level, which increased some of my stats. It’s than back to the castle for a rest.
During the night Shanadar is attacked by the Empire of Eflaat and the castle put under siege. The King says you should take the Princess and escape to Mahamood. He also gives you a ring.
You are met at the port by the traitorous General Kohle who was offered the kingship for betraying Shanadar. The ensuing battle is unwinnable as Kohle was given a magic sword by the emperor which causes you to faint with one blow.
It’s down to the resistance to save your arse and you come to in the their hideout. The leader says you need to get the lamp from the treasury in order to defeat Kohle. It turns out the lamp contains a genie who once served Jamseed – my first party member. 

The Genie is the only member of the party who can use magic. He is also the only member of the party who can’t level up. His attributes can be raised by equipping with various items bought or found throughout the game. Hemp, for example, increases his magic points, gilding increases hit points and crystal increases defence. These items are rarely found and are expensive in the shops.

We seek out Kohle and use the spell Varyu to stop him using the magical powers of the sword. He is still a strong enemy but was easily beaten. With Imperial reinforcements on their way we hop on a ship and set sail for Mahamood.

The general plot involves finding all the Rings of Light before the bad guys destroy them and allow Ahriman to regain his full power.  I will note my thoughts below….
  • I pick up my second party member, Saleem, when we stop off at an island to collect some fresh water. Saleem is the captains son. The captain gives us some money to buy water, but when we return to the ship it has been boarded by Ahriman’s elite troops. They kill the captain and take the ship and the princess leaving us stranded on the island. It is here the Genie gains the Raag spell which can teleport us between known locations.  This avoids cramming in an overworld map onto the Game Gear cartridge.  It also shows your progress as the destinations grow.

  • The Genie starts with three spells but more are collected by reading inscriptions on walls.  One gripe is the nonsensical names given to the spells which means you have to refer to the manual.  Not ideal when gaming on the go.
Why can’t you just call it “Lightning”

  • Our fourth party member is Agmar the thief.  We find him in a prison cell after falling through a trap door in a dungeonFortunately the Genie has the Kshasla spell at this point which can get us through the locked door. 
  • Apart from the normal combat moves each character has a their own special ability.  The Prince can use ‘Run‘ to escape fights and the Genie can cast magic.  Saleem can use ‘Dance’ in which he attacks all enemies but causes less damage than targeting a single one.  Agmar can use his turn to ‘Hide’.  On his next turn he can use ‘Assault’ to cause more damage to an enemy.
  • There are many useful items that can be found during the course of the adventure.  Most are described in the manual and throughout the game, but there are few that have to experimented with to find their use.  You inventory seems unlimited with the amount of different items you can carry, but you are only able to hold up to 9 items of each type.
  • There is decent music playing constantly during the game. Sound effects are limited to a few bleeps and a couple of undecipherable speech samples.
  • One plot point I didn’t like (and I seem to remember something similar happening in Final Fantasy II) is that once you gather all the quest items – rings in this case one of Ahriman’s generals simply takes them off you without you putting up a fight.  He proceeds to burn them, releasing Ahriman.
Little does he know the ashes still have some power…

…and neither does Ahriman.

Despite being a relatively simple JRPG, I really enjoyed Defenders of Oasis.  It’s not a game that requires lots of grinding – I did a bit to get better weapons but character stats are limited to 99 points so you can’t go on levelling forever.  The economy is also good – once you have the best weapons and armour there are still silks and gilding to buy for the genie at several thousand dinars a pop.  The graphics are well drawn and colourful. I played the game in bite-size chunks (as a mobile game would normally be).  It doesn’t have a huge overworld so travelling between towns is accomplished using the Raag spellThis is good as a lot of JRPGs over stay their welcome by being unnecessarily long with random combats becoming a chore.  The Arabian theme also made a nice change from the usual fantasy settings.

The End….

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And finally a JRPG where the ultimate boss has only one form

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