After Baldour is defeated, the floating fortress starts to crumble...



... But what of Alisia? She begins to fall through the sky. Her work is done, but...



Fortunately, her animal buddies got her back, and combine their powers to give Dragon Fyre the strength to carry her to safety.

(Don't worry- even if your pals die, the ending doesn't change).



As a stirring remix of Stage 4's music plays and Alisia makes her way back to the start, the credits roll.

Let's quickly pop over to MobyGames to have a gawk at some of the names here. We already discussed the majority of Gainax's involvement with the game on the first page- that'd be Yoshimi Kanda's work- but staff from there also get mentioned in the Special Thanks section. There's a few names in particular I'd like to focus in on- first, Takehiko Itō, credited here as Hiroyuki Hataike who designed Alisia herself, is the mangaka behind Outlaw Star and also did art design work on Galaxy Fraulein Yuna, among many other things. Next, the music is credited to Mecano Associates, an audio contractor of sorts who mostly worked with Game Arts, and an interview with Fumihito Kasatani (credited as Kass in the credits) explains the process of composing the music. Surprisingly, given how well the music fits the game, they basically presented concept music to Game Arts before really seeing the game! The final thing to point out is that, unsurprisingly, Alisia Dragoon shares most of its staff with Lunar: The Silver Star, probably Game Arts' most celebrated game. No connection with the silver star in the intro to this game, honest.

After the credits, we get one more scene.



Alisia doesn't want much for saving the world. Just a hearty handshake, and the satisfaction of a job well done.



... And now, for your ranking.

Whenever you get a game over or finish the game, you're taken to this ranking screen that, as well as some basic stats about your performance, gives you a special rank, including things like "WORM" MASTER, ELECTRIC "SLIME" and "SPRITE" SORCERESS- most of the ranks can be found in the Japanese manual, and the full list as well as how you get them are on this Japanese fansite. They're split into two basic types, with one set reserved for players who mostly used Alisia's thunder magic, and another set reserved for those who relied more on the beast friends, and the different ranks are given based on your play time, number of deaths and shot-down rate. Like a lot of things in this game, it's an extra bit of fluff, but what a charming way of assessing your player's performance!

For the record, "OGRE" SHAMAN is one of the more average ranks, which is pretty on-brand for Gaming Hell.





With the embodiment of all evil destroyed, that's a job well done- we've finished Alisia Dragoon.

I laid this out at the start of this playthrough, but Alisia Dragoon is one of my very favourite Mega Drive games, and hopefully my enthusiasm for it got through to you readers over the past five pages. It's a fantastic game with unique mechanics that make it stand out amongst the crowd, a solid challenge whether you play on Normal or Hard, and a nice balance of combat and exploration that gives you reason to return to it after beating it. Part of it is the care and attention put into the presentation- things like logical transitions between each area of the game, environments that give you a little insight into the world, the different rankings you can be awarded, and so on. That's not even mentioning the great visuals and the amazing soundtrack which I can't praise highly enough. This level of care contributes to the game itself too- almost every stage (if not every area) has a new and different set of enemies to fight. Additionally, every area has a distinct feel to its design and layout that makes them feel unique without resorting to gimmickry, feeling appropriate for their setting- the open space of the swamps of Stage 2, the cramped and twisting caverns of Stage 5, the angled and labyrinthine Stage 6...

All this care would be for naught if the mechanics weren't solid too, and they are. It might sound offputting to put so much of your trust into game elements you don't have direct control over, but the homing thunder attack works a lot better than you'd assume, and basically never causes you any problems. It's not like you can switch off and just hold the button down either, positioning and keeping your magic meter healthy are crucial parts of the game. The animal friends also give you a lot of extra options and there's a good balance between letting you use one that suits your playstyle and having pals that are useful for specific situations. The thing that may put you off at first is the difficulty- there's one life and continues must be found- but you will steadily get better with practice, and the health meter is a little generous even without grabbing all the HP Plates. It balances itself out rather nicely. There's some weak parts here and there, but they're relatively few, and I don't feel they impact the game negatively enough to deny it the full five stars. Specifically, the way Stage 6-1 has a few leaps-of-faith that lead almost directly on to things that damage you unless you know they're there in advance, and the Stage 7 boss encounter being too long and drawn-out. The heavily pattern-based style of the boss fights may also be a bone of contention for some, but those patterns are engaging enough and, crucially, the nature of the game's primary mechanics- having to keep the thunder meter in check and utilising your animal pals- mean there's still a level of challenge even if you know exactly what to do. Overall, the game feels like something made with care put into almost every aspect of it, and one that can stand proud amongst other action game greats on the platform.

In conclusion, play Alisia Dragoon.



And now, it's that time, folks!
EXTENDED PLAY!



Would you like to read another (glowing) article about Alisia Dragoon, one that's much better and more concise?

Then please, read Kimimi talking about Alisia Dragoon, a perspective from another big fan of the game.



As documented by The Cutting Room Floor, Alisia Dragoon has a useful Debug Mode.

Once the game boots up, start holding the A Button on the first controller when the Sega logo fades out. When the Game Arts logo fades out, release the A Button and hold the B Button. When the Gainax logo fades out, release the B Button and hold the C Button. When the Mecano Associates logo fades out, release the C Button and press the Start Button. If you've done it properly, a sound will play, a different one than the one that normally plays when you skip the intro (it's the sound used when you use a continue) and using a second controller during gameplay lets you use a variety of useful functions:

A: Begins Frame Advancing. Press to advance the game by one frame.

B: End Frame Advancing and resume play. Holding buttons on the first controller as you do this has various effects:

Up: Restore HP and max out maximum health.
Left: Increase thunder magic power by 1 level.
Right: Increase selected monster power by 1 level.
B: Use a super-powered thunder attack to kill enemies & bosses in one hit.
C: Become invincible- health will still decrease but never kill you.

C: Begins Level Skip. The screen will go black, and holding buttons on the first controller will warp you to different parts of the game:

None: Warp to the next individual area in the game.
C: Warp to Stage 1-1.
B: Warp to Stage 2.
B & C: Warp to Stage 3.
A: Warp to Stage 4.
A & C: Warp to Stage 5-1.
A & B: Warp to Stage 6-1.
A & B & C: Warp to Stage 7.
Start: Warp to Stage 8.



So, time to talk about ports and rereleases, right?

... Nah. There's only one to talk about.



On the 5th of June 2019, Sega livestreamed their final game lineup reveal for the Japanese version of their then-upcoming plug-and-play console, the Mega Drive Mini. Reveal #36 was Alisia Dragoon. Additionally, Hiroyuki Miyazaki of Sega later revealed that Alisia Dragoon was a game that was strongly pushed for to be included in the unit, and that surprisingly this was a request from overseas! Fortunately, despite some games getting swapped out in the different regions, Alisia Dragoon made it to every single regional variant of the unit. Believe me, if it'd been replaced by Virtua Fighter 2 in the Western units, there would've been riots (mostly by me, on my own). These units were developed by emulation wizards M2, so while Gaming Hell doesn't have a Mega Drive Mini (we're cheap), it's fair to assume it's a good job.

Additionally, Sega made the original manuals for all games on the unit available as PDFs for free!

Genesis Mini manuals site
Mega Drive Mini (JP) manuals site
PDF

No, seriously, this is the only time this game has ever been rereleased. It's not a first-party Sega game so it's never been included on the many, many Mega Drive collections, but it's never been in any iteration of Nintendo's Virtual Console either or rereleased by other means like Project EGG. Considering the after-market price of the game in Japan in particular- look it up if you want to be upset- the Mega Drive Mini is the easiest way to play the game these days. Give it a try if you've got one!



Finally, a few early screenshots that show some interesting in-development tidbits.



The official Game Arts page for Alisia Dragoon- yes, it's still up- has some basic information about the game, but also includes three screenshots that just don't happen in the game at all. The first one shows spear enemies in Stage 1-1, and they don't appear until Stage 1-3. The second shows a lily-pad appearing in front of a normal platform in Stage 2, which never happens- lily-pads are always separate from platforms- as well as some unknown sprite behind Alisia. Finally, the third one shows the room with Baldour's cocoon in Stage 1-2 being the boss fight area with Ornah (using a completely unique sprite) standing on a floating platform, watching- nothing even close to this happens in the final game. None of these images have the HUD either. Very mysterious!



There's also this image from the BEEP Megadrive magazine interview page, which shows a separate unused Monster Select screen (that also shows numerical values for their health), some kind of unused password system, and four (!) extra monster buddies cut from the final game. Looking at the silhouettes, the final two appear to match the designs of the two fairy items that do appear in the game, so it's possible they were originally planned to be selectable partners, but after they were scrapped their sprites were reused for items instead.





... Hear me out on this, but Game Arts worked on Super Smash Bros. Brawl, you know.

So, c'mon, Aliisa Dragoon DLC for Smash Ultimate? I'd buy it.

I've even got the tagline for her- ALISIA DRAGOON SUMMONS A STORM! Hire me, Nintendo.