Remember that great Genesis game, Beyond Oasis? It combined the swords and magic commonly associated with a role-playing game, and the fighting and special moves expected from a fighting game. Enter Legend of Oasis, the prequel to Beyond Oasis. Sporting the same action as the original Genesis title, and some of the same "spirits" (which are used to cast various spells), Legend of Oasis is a classic example of "been there, done that."
When all is said and done, Legend of Oasis is an action game with a role-playing twist. You, cast as Leon, must find all six spirits and use their powers to fight Agito and his legions of creatures. Those who fail will be reduced to a rumpled pile of flesh. All of the action takes place in real time, and fights are won or lost based on player skill, instead of a character's power or other tricks. Each weapon comes with a set of special attacks that are executed in fighting game style. You can also summon spirits who fight enemies, heal your character, or solve puzzles. And while the fighting is dynamic, gameplay suffers because of its perspective. That is to say it's sometimes very difficult to tell how high or low a platform is in relation to Leon. This leads to a lot of frustration when you try to jump up to levels that are way too high or end up falling down a level - which can force you to walk for ten minutes to get back to where you were.
The graphics in Legend are, for the most part, identical to the original. The only noticeable improvements are in the color and frame rate departments. Where the Genesis game looked faded, Legend is full of eye-popping color. Where the Genesis version would flicker and look jumpy, Legend stays perfectly sharp and doesn't slow down. Of course, this is to be expected when a game makes the jump up to a more powerful system. Legend's music, written by Sega musical genius Yuzo Koshiro, is truly amazing, and makes up for some of the game's down time. The sound effects are good, also. Slices and stabs sound especially nice.
The Legend of Oasis is a solid title and contains a lot of good gameplay. However it's not different enough from the original Genesis title to justify its upgrade to the Saturn. Hard-core fans of Beyond Oasis will eat it up, and it will no doubt appeal to fans of action RPGs. With that said, people looking for a dark and deep number-crunching RPG should look elsewhere.