Alisia Dragoon was one of my all time favorites back when I first started out with only four Genesis games. Game Arts isn't known for much of their games before the release of the Sega CD and nowadays, they are most known for the Grandia, Lunar (Along with Studio Alex), and Silpheed series. Game Arts actually made a number of games back in the days, but they are mostly obscure titles (such as Japanese Mahjong games, etc). Alisia Dragoon just so happens to be one of their lesser known works...which is a shame because this game is also one of their finest works. It also helps to know that Gainax helped with the production of the game too. You probably know Gainax for the ever-popular Neon Genesis Evangelion as well as other anime, but Gainax has also been involved in other games besides Alisia Dragoon such as "Princess Maker: Legend of Another World" (SNES/SFC), "Princess Maker 2" (PC), "Xardion" (SNES/SFC), and several other titles.
Sometime ago, Alisia's father had fought against the dark god (or prince of all things evil), Baldour, who had visited Earth to unleash his terrible power all across the planet...and although Baldour was weakened and had to leave the earth to recuperate, Alisia's father died during the battle. Alisia was only a child, but she saw her father die before her very eyes. Inexplicably, Alisia's life was spared...and Alisia soon grew up to become a beautiful sorceress with the power to gather magical energy and strike her offenders with the fearsome power of lightning. Ornah, Baldour's aide and a twisted mage himself, transports Baldour back to Earth for a second time and waits for Baldour to awaken from his cocoon so that they may take over the world.
Once Alisia saw a silver star fall from the sky (Baldour is the silver star), she knew that Baldour had arrived again to unleash evil and destruction like he did in the past...and so her journey begins as she seeks revenge for the death of her father. Besides her powerful magic, Alisia also has four divine beasts that fight by her side. DragonFyre, a dragon whose loyalty is unequaled to any human friend Alisia may have...Ball O' Fire, the fire elemental that can burns enemies to a crisp with just a touch...Thunder Raven, a bird demon that stores power then lets it explode to devastate all on-screen enemies...and Boomerang Lizard, a monster that uses boomerang-like cutter blades to split foes in two. The plot is fairly typical to earlier action titles...find this guy, kill em', save the world, avenge somebody...blah, blah, blah. The thing I really care about is that a chick is doing all of the work in this game and not some typical macho thug or something.
The graphics of the game are nice and colorful for the Sega Genesis, especially for 1992. Bosses are quite detailed and the attention to background details is great. I feel like I get sucked straight into her fantasy world thanks to the great job that Game Arts did. Whether you are walking through a cave, battling fiends in the forest, dodging gun fire on an aerial fotress above the clouds, or navigating your way through a ruined ship that lies at a 45 degree angle, the high quality of the stage design shines from start to finish. Alisia's lightning blast is mean, brutal, and looks cool to boot. The game has some nice animations as well such as wavering clouds and flowing waterfalls, among other things. The game as a whole looks marvelous and is one of the finer looking games on the system, especially considering how old it is. The music is also excellent and suits the game very well (and possesses a fantasy theme) and is perhaps this game's crowning achievement. Mecano Associates, the team behind the music in this game, put together an amazing soundtrack that really pumps life into this game, though the sound effects are average. What this basically means is that you not only have a game that looks great, you have a game that sounds great too. How is the gameplay?
Well, there are one or two nice concepts to this game, but it is fairly standard overall. First, let's talk about Alisia. She moves at a fair pace and her controls are reasonably responsive. She starts with three or so HP (Health) brackets. As you find a certain item, her max HP increases. She can have a total of six HP brackets. You can also level up her lightning attack. The more you level it up, the faster the gauge charges and the more damage her attack deals. Whenever her gauge reaches max, she can unleash an electrifying attack on all the enemies in her vicinity, and it is her most deadly ability. Alisia's attack is very simple to use since the game utilizes an auto-aim feature that makes Alisia's lightning automatically hit the closest enemy in her vicinity. You can replenish her life as well as the life of her companions by finding various items scattered about. Alisia can also become invincible and she can even have her attack guage remain at max power for a limited amount of time to do some serious damage. In order to become as powerful as you can, you will have to tread carefully to take out the baddies and explore as much as you can.
Now let's talk about Alisia's beasts. Her companions ARE there with you in combat, but they aren't overly useful and don't seem too aggressive. Thunder Raven's attack charges slow and isn't very effective. Ball O’ Fire has more of a defensive nature. Its defense is also its offense. It must touch the enemies in order to inflict damage. It doesn't inflict that much damage when an enemy is touched and eventually (when the attack gauge runs out) Ball O’ Fire is left vulnerable. It can be more trouble than it's worth. Boomerang Lizard attacks at a moderate rate, his attacks follow enemies around the screen and is perhaps the most effective of all your companions overall. DragonFyre is somewhat strong, but somewhat ineffective. His form of attack is very standard, flying in a straight line, and he doesn't attack rapidly. They can level up just like Alisia, but their max HP is five brackets instead of six. Alisia is probably better off dealing with the bad guys by herself. The beasts don't do much in the way of fighting bosses either. Still, they can fight until they die and then you can help you go about your normal business and absorb a few blows meant for Alisia. Besides all that, you have your typical features like an options mode, etc.
What Alisia Dragoon does have, it is done well, though I feel that the A.I. of Alisia's beast partners could have been better. You have no lives and a limited number of continues (You can find some) and the game is noted for its relatively high level of challenge and constant super gal action! So long as you tread carefully and pick up as many power-ups as you can, you should have no problem beating this game. I have to say...when you can play a game about fifteen years ago and love it and still love it fifteen years later, you've got yourself a winner. Give Ms. Alisia a big round of applause for still being cool after over a decade! If Valis ain't your cup of tea and you want a great game with a female heroine, then try this. It packs excellent visuals, memorable tunes and some frantic action, and I'd be hard pressed not to see it on a Sega fans top 50 or even top 20 list. For me, I can probably squeeze this game into my top ten. Game Arts took a lot of time and consideration when they made this game and with Alisia Dragoon's larger than average staff (for the time) and numerous play testers, I can say that all their work payed off.
- Written by Vyse the determined -