Developed by Game Arts
Published by Sega
Released in 1992
Behaving like a blinkered fanboy is clearly a very silly approach to gaming, but there is at least one huge benefit. When you come out of the other side and realise there is more than one console for you, you're suddenly embraced by a huge selection of games. Growing up, I was so devoted to Nintendo that I didn't even like multi-format games magazines. It wasn't because I wasn't interested in what Sega owners were enjoying, I was appalled by even catching a glimpse of a screen shot for platform exclusive games. Of course, as I wasn't living under a rock I knew of the big titles; the 'Sonics', 'MoonWalkers' and 'Streets of Rages' but the smaller more quirky titles totally passed me by.
However, this game is far more tactical and doesn't offer a variety of weapons or even a need to aim at foes. Alisia targets every onscreen enemy automatically leading to a focus on dodging attacks. With her dragon companions the game feels very different to a "run and gun", if anything it's more like a grounded "bullet hell shooter". The fantasy setting, character design and levelling up may seem like RPG fare but that's where that similarities would end. Additionally, despite platforming elements which play similar to 'Valis' or 'Actraiser' games, 'Alisia Dragoon's emphasis on frantic shooting action kills that comparison. While it may have a projectile firing female protagonist like 'Super Metroid' this game is far more arcadey and immediate, with no back tracking and far less exploration.
A difficult first stage is actually intended to be an introduction; easing you into the game. From stage two onward the number and difficulty of the enemies significantly increases, so judicious use of the lighting attack is essential if Alisia is to survive. She starts with only one life and continues are extremely rare. Worse still using one after death means you're mercilessly put back to the beginning of the level. By the end of the game, you'll be fighting enemies nearly nonstop. Many of them just appearing out of thin air and absorbing multiple hits before they disapear. All the while, more foes are piling into the melee often swamping Alisia and her dragon of choice. Amidst all of the chaos, you need to be mindful of your magic meter, as otherwise you can easily end up being unable to attack leading to an inevitable and quick death. In addition to all of the enemies, there are also traps in various stages such as moving platforms, hot lava, and discarded munitions that explode when struck by magic. However a difficult concealed route is often an indication of upgrades ahead.
There's lots to see in 'Alisia's Dragoon', it really isn't a game where the first level is indicative of the rest of the game. Often, to elongate their length, many action games are guilty of simply reusing the same level templates, but 'Alisia Dragoon' couldn't be accused of this. There is a huge variety of stages and by the game's conclusion Alisia would have traversed a mountain, swamp, temple, volcano, airship and castle. She would even have ventured inside a collapsing spaceship, when the whole impressive level is set at a slanted angle. It illustrates how every stage not only looks different but plays differently too. Each demand different approaches and the creative game design means that you very rarely have an entire level moving left to right.