Last weekend, I was housesitting for my parents and found myself away from my consoles and laptop, so I decided to try and find a random JRPG from the 3ds Virtual Console. After spending entirely too much time researching which game I'd try, I landed on the $3 Defenders of Oasis. It had the perfect mix of being cheap and looking like a clone of Dragon Quest. After putting in 10-15 hours this past week on the game, it's definitely a cheap clone of Dragon Quest, which is exactly what I wanted in this game.
Originally on the Game Gear, the game stars an unnamed prince who goes on a quest first to save a princess and then to prevent an evil force from resurrecting something evil with 3 rings or something like that. The story is pretty important, and fairly compelling, but it also drops the player into a world with minimum setup. One interesting thing about the game's world is that it does not fall under the umbrella of traditional high fantasy. Instead, the setting was inspired by Middle Eastern mythology. One of the party members is even a genie that lives in a lamp.
As the game goes on, 3 other characters, including the aforementioned genie, round out the adventuring party. Each of these characters has a special ability. The prince can attempt to run from the battle, another character can do the "dance of death" hitting all enemies in the encounter, another character can hide and then assault to do double damage on the next turn, and the genie can cast spells. In addition, while the other characters level up the way they might in a traditional RPG, the genie only gets stronger when you can add items to make his lamp fancier.
The one other interesting mechanic in the game that makes it different from a typical Dragon Quest clone is the save system. In the original game, the game constantly saved itself even if you randomly turned it off. Obviously in a Virtual Console, I used the restore point system, but I did still run into this quirk every time I lost an encounter. Instead of doing the old system of taking half of your money and sending the player back to town, the game simply reboots and has the player continue right before the battle. This is actually usually a hindrance, as if the party is in rough enough shape to all get defeated in one battle, they're probably not in the best shape to move forward in the dungeon. A number of times, I would limp a few spaces, lose a battle, reboot and repeat that process until I got out of the dungeon.
I put several hours into the game this past Saturday night, more than I've put on the 3ds in a long time, and woke up Sunday morning with a cramped up hand that only today(Tuesday) seems to have mostly healed. If you're looking for a standard JRPG on your 3ds for a long weekend or a car trip, you could definitely do worse than Defenders of Oasis. The game is pretty short, and there are only a few spots where it's not obvious what to do to move the story forward.
Thanks for reading! Hey, if anyone actually reads these retro gaming reviews I've been doing, please let me know either in the comment section or somewhere else. I'll probably keep writing them either way, but it would be nice to know people are reading them.