This little RPG for Sega’s color handheld has long been associated with the Oasis games by confused gamers across the United States despite it being totally unrelated. Defenders of Oasis is a turn-based RPG with no mention of Elemental Spirits, Agito, or circle-slashing. On the other hand, Defenders of Oasis has the same naming convention, the same Arabian Nights-infused theme (with a side of Zoroastrianism), and even the same camera angle as the Oasis games.
Defenders of Oasis tells a typical story of light vs. dark, opening with scenes of an evil wizard named Ahriman being put down by the young warrior Jamseed. Jamseed uses three rings of light to seal Ahriman for all time. Eons later, an evil empire named Eflaat arises to trouble the land once more. The game opens with the young Prince of Shanadar – a descendant of Jamseed of old. When the kingdom is invaded the Prince must escape with only his life, the family genie, and one of the three rings of light. It turns out that Ahriman’s minions are behind the recent evil, and the Prince must rise to the expectations of his heritage and defeat evil once and for all.
The hero of the game, prone to snoozing until the afternoon and missing out on important royal events. He has incredibly appropriate special ability of being able to use the “Run” command in combat, giving your party a chance to escape an encounter. He’s also the best flat-out fighter in the game. He’s romantically attached to the beautiful Princess Mariam, who ends up being a bit more controlling than he bargained for.
The son of a ship captain. He has a pretty interesting special ability called “Dance” that allows him to deal partial damage to all attacking enemies instead of just one. Unfortunately he’s pretty weak and is only really good at taking damage and getting beat up, which makes him often one of the last fighters standing when the rest of the party wipes. He aspires to being a ship captain himself one day, although his crew seems to have other ideas.
A thief who can’t stay out of trouble. His special ability allows him to “Hide” for a turn, avoiding pretty much all attacks. He also deals out pretty decent damage. His lines are usually humorous, and his kleptomaniac habits and obsession for treasure usually get him into serious trouble.
As the party’s only magic user, the Genie is probably your most important offensive and defensive asset. Strangely enough he doesn’t seem to level up through combat – instead you have to spend precious gold to upgrade his lamp directly, which will buff his various stats to make him stronger. The Genie is also permanently immune to poison, dizzy, and other such spells. In terms of the plot, the Genie does a good job bridging the gap between his master’s buffoonery and the wider world.
The general mechanics stick to a very familiar JRPG formula. For the first part of the game you gather up your party of fighters and then you start your quest in earnest, fighting minions in random, turn-based encounters. The game has all the expected limitations of an 8-bit platform: there’s no character portraits, no combat backgrounds, no combat animation, and the entire party is represented by the Prince except for key moments. Still, the graphics are very bright and colorful and the music is catchy – the entire package is quite well done, and there is a lot of light humor and flashes of true character development. It’s more than you’d expect for a handheld RPG of the era, and enough to put some of the RPGs on the Genesis to shame despite its shortcomings.