Developer: Game Arts/Gainax
Platform(s): Sega Genesis/Mega Drive
|NA/EU cover art|
|JP cover art|
1992 was a pretty big year in the world of video games. Gamers all across North America were prepared to enter the next level, as Sega's CD-ROM add-on for the Genesis was released. And with it, the first glimpse of Full Motion Video entertainment. Midway's Mortal Kombat was taking video arcades by storm. And a little company by the name of id Software put PC gamers into the shoes of B.J. Blazkowicz, as they infiltrated Castle Wolfenstein in an attempt to bring about the end of the Nazi regime. And somewhere between all the hype of disc based gaming, head ripping fatalities, and first person action, a collaboration between Japanese developer Game Arts and animation juggernaut Gainax resulted in an overlooked gem of a game that stands the test of time and remains a challenging, fun filled experience: Alisia Dragoon.
A.D.'s narrative is simple. Players take control of the sorceress Alisia, as she traverses eight levels in an attempt to put an end to the schemes of the wicked god Baldour, and avenge the murder of her father at the hands of Baldour's archmage, Ornah. To accomplish this task, Alisia can bend the elemental forces of lightning to her will, and unleash a stream of hi-voltage destruction upon those who would do the world harm. Also, she is accompanied by four familiars, each offering a unique method of aiding the sorceress in her quest, and can be called upon at any time. Having been responsible for the creation of Alisia Dragoon's visual style, the team at Gainax present us with an interesting fantasy world that melds the standard fantasy tropes of vast forests, ancient temples, and rugged mountain ranges with sci-fi trappings. Indeed, one of the levels has Alisia exploring the ruins of a crashed space cruiser, as she contends with the rusted war machines, loose munitions, and undead crew that still linger in the holds. It's a visual style that brings to mind some of Hayao Miyazaki's earlier works, such as Naussica of the Valley of the Wind. And accompanying the action is, in my opinion, one of the best soundtracks that can be found on a Sega Genesis game. The compositions are appropriately heroic, mysterious, and tense, and fit the on screen events nicely.
Of course, graphics and sound don't hold much meaning if the game itself can't deliver. Fortunately, Alisia Dragoon is easy to control, and offers gamers a great challenge even on it's base setting. Enemies will beset you from all sides, and some boss encounters will punish you if you don't stick to the patterns. To help give you an edge, there are numerous power-ups hidden all over the various levels that will allow you to increase your maximun health, as well as strengthen your lightning magic and the familiar's abilities. And if one of the familiars kicks the bucket, you can also find a power-up to return them to life and continue the fight.
Now I can sit here and blab on about how much I like this game. But, to be honest, I'd much rather you take the opportunity to experience it yourself and form your own opinion. There's plenty of emulators out there, and I'm certain you could snag a hard copy from an eBay or Amazon seller if you'd rather keep things legit. Either way, I definitely recommend you give Alisia Dragoon a go!