RPGs are a problem in Europe. As notoriously text-heavy releases in a region with multiple languages, they present a daunting and costly challenge for any localisation team. Perhaps for this reason, the UK missed a lot of the key console RPGs of the early Nineties – Final Fantasy VI, Lunar: The Silver Star and even Super Mario RPG never reached these shores.
It’s for this reason that my first RPG was The Story Of Thor (or Beyond Oasis, in the North American market). A visually impressive late Mega Drive release, the game was the perfect introduction to the genre for a console kid used to the immediacy of arcade conversions. With active combat that is often compared to the Zelda series and less dialogue to contend with, I was free to enjoy the thrill of exploring the game’s vast environments.
Revisiting the game with a lot more experience, I was pleased to find that The Story Of Thor is still worth playing today. The key to this is the summoning system, which sets it apart from other titles in the genre. The protagonist Ali is able to summon spirits by blasting the environment with his magic armlet, the most impressive being a fire spirit able to bathe the world in flame.
But the real thrill was finding that the boss battles lived up to my memories, with gigantic multi-sprite monstrosities filling the screen at the end of each dungeon. Nearly two decades on, defeating them still makes me feel like a hero.