Alisia Dragoon (Mega Drive) (1992)
Developer: Gainax and Game Arts
Review by Faididi and Co.
"Dragoon" isn't her last name, either
An evil god comes to the world, and only Alisia, a magic-wielding adventuress, can stop it. She must journey across dangerous lands and destroy the villain before it awakens and conquers all. The plot is the same old thing, except it happens to be dressed up really nicely.
Gameplay: Below Average
Despite the name of Gainax and Game Arts' Alisia Dragoon, the heroine of this action platformer won't ride anything at all throughout the 8 side-scrolling stages. Instead, Alisia just runs and jumps while frying enemies with her lightning bolt attacks. For extra firepower, she can rely on the four drone-like creatures who accompany her, each one having its own attack pattern. For example, the cockatrice unleashes slow but powerful blasts that damage every bad guy on the screen, while the winged lizard throws out spreading blades.
Beneath its fancy appearance, the game is in truth very simplistic. Everything from the cute heroine to the lenient pacing of the obstacles makes it feel as though it's meant for little girls who are new to games. Alisia's lightning bolts automatically track enemies, removing any need to aim. This means the same tactic is used to defeat all the foes from the common minion cultists to the large boss monsters, by hosing the place with lightning until they die. The only challenge lies in leaping away from any returning attacks, and even that is made easier by the fact that there are no bottomless pits of any kind.
While the level design features exotic-looking places such as forest temples and sky fortresses, the lack of bottomless pits renders the stages barely more than straightforward corridors. Whatever difficulty exists arises from the far more serious flaw of enemies often appearing by materializing out from thin air, and that is a lazy way to compensate for the underwhelming shooting and platforming action. Not helping are the stupid quirks with the companion creatures' attacks, making half of them useless. The small dragon mindlessly shoots fireballs to the sides but can't aim up or down, while the will-o'-wisp has no ranged attacks and usually floats around doing nothing.
The controls are responsive. Alisia walks, crouches, jumps, casts lightning, and switches among the companions with ease. She has no direct control over the companions' attacks, though.
The visuals are beautiful, that's for certain. The smoothly animated characters are drawn with lots of details, and the backgrounds are heavily textured. Slowdown is virtually nonexistent, even when swarms of enemies and projectiles litter the screen.
Audio: Above Average
The sound effects are strong, too. Defeated bad guys vanish with fiery puffs, and collected items ring out with various magical noises. The music is inspired at times, with its adventurous, fairy tale-like tones.
Alisia Dragoon is an action platformer with gameplay that leaves much to be desired. Keeping things simplistic with the automatically-aimed attacks and the scant environmental obstacles is one matter, but having enemies frequently appear out from nowhere just to provide some challenge is another. At least the game looks and sounds great.