In the world of 2D action heroes, women have to work a little harder to be noticed. It's not as easy as wearing skimpy outfits or getting plastic surgery, hardware limitations make it tough for women to skate by solely on their good looks. Alisia, the star of Game Arts' 1992 Genesis game, isn't having any of that. Who needs to be
Think of this as a female-led sequel to Legendary Axe. Alisia's main attack is a powerful homing electrical charge that has to be seen to be believed. Very little aiming is required; you simply hold the button down and thousands of bolts of electricity will fry whatever gets in the way. It's an incredible attack, one of the best I've seen on the Sega Genesis.
When not electrocuting everything, Alisia is able to call on her helpful squad of dragons. Players can switch between these deadly creatures at any time, and most will tag along to help clear the path. Each of these dragons have their own life bar, strengths and weaknesses, so the key to beating this game is to constantly switch helpers.
You fight through forests and swamps, taking on ugly sea serpents and other fictional baddies. But just as you get used to your high fantasy surroundings, Alisia's journey takes an unexpected trip on a futuristic flying ship. Eventually the game calms back down, throwing our heroine into caves, castles and a stressful diagonal maze. It's a lengthy quest full of impressive boss battles and a varied selection of regular bad guys.
Despite its artistic charm, Alisia Dragoon does have one thing working against it. The game is unflinching in its difficulty, going as far as to force players to start over from the very start when they lose. There are no extra guys to pick up, so it's important to make sure you never die. The only way to continue a stage is to locate a hidden item, and even that isn't as reliable as you would want. The best way to make it through this adventure is to never, ever die.
If you can get past the Alisia Dragoon's extreme difficulty, you'll find a fast-paced action game with a likeable lead character and a lightning attack that is satisfying every single time. The levels are full of hidden areas and the bosses aren't just recycled monsters from other fantasy games. It all comes together to create a 16-bit adventure worth going on.