Review by A Man in Flames
"End of an old Millennium, start of a new- its still one of the best RPGs EVER."
A Sega original master piece released in 1994, this game still continues to be one of the greatest RPGs of all time.
(This Phantasy Star is a sequel to Phantasy Star II taking place about 1000 years after.)
The year is 2284 A.W. and monster outbreaks are more fierce than ever. You begin the game being called out of bed by Alys Brangwin, today is the day you are a full fledged partner as a Hunter. You are Chaz Ashley. You have just received an urgent request to appear at the Motavian Academy located at a town called Piata which is is the heart of your home planet, Motavia. Upon arrival you take up an interview with the principal of the academy who requests that you exterminate these monsters that have been recently seen around the academy which is located in the basement. There seems to be more to this case than just getting rid of monsters...
What at first turns out to be a mission to save your home planet Motavia and the neighboring planet Dezolis from devastating climate problems turns into to saving the entire Algo Solar system from an evil being called Dark Force (sound familiar???). Along your travels you will meet many friends and foes as you undergo many trials and obstacles while suffering great losses.
This game has one of the best and definitely one of the most original stories. The characters are very livid and have great scripts that give them personality and not just cheap lines to make a cast of characters. Your enemies are also very foul and vile. While sure as this game is an RPG and it does have the usual objective of save the world, its not played in the same way many other RPGs are (not saying its a bad thing). This game has very powerful scenes to it that I think some players would actually shed a tear to (I did).
Another original aspect to the story of this game is how its laid out to the player visually. When you come across an important part of the plot (which there are many) you would get anime pictures to give you a better feel of whats going on rather than just text and script. The script was very well written too but it was just astonishing that they included anime to make it like a comic book.
Simply put: the story of this game is filled with beautiful characters and horrid enemies with shocking plot twists that clash together to make an original Sega master piece.
The battle system to this game is awesome and its very fast paced. As many as five friends can travel together and every char has their own set of unique skills. The battles perspective is set from behind your party while seeing the enemies head on. The backgrounds in the battles are also pretty nicely done too. Characters also have techniques and whats even cooler about having techs and skills is that you can actually figure out a combination of techs to carry out a two or even three char special skill strike. There are a huge variety of enemies that are cut between monsters and androids (just as it was in the previous two games).
To make the battle system even better, Sega made what is called the Macro option which allows you to formulate battle strategies. You can create roughly ten different battle macros to your liking for dealing with battles without having to enter each characters command manually. You can also use these to setup special skill strikes.
Money, items, weapons/armor are basic in this game, you find em or buy em then equip them to become stronger and become even more protected. But weapons do have their own attack sprites. For example, if you have a regular steel sword but then acquire a nice laser sword, when you attack you will see a nice pretty shiny streak of blue slice through the enemy instead of that old dull grey.
Character development in this game comes standard as well. You kill monsters you gain exp and you level. The levels are pre-determined so you will gain the same stats every level which I prefer. You learn new techniques and acquire new skills through the levels as well.
Traveling includes more than just walking. You will acquire a few vehicles like a Land Rover over course of play. Whats also another cool element is if you travel in a vehicle you will still fight enemies but only big ones, the kind you would not normally encounter on foot. The vehicles operate rail guns or lasers depending on which one you are operating. Its pretty fun to blast enemies with the vehicles heavy artillery too. However, as it does make sense, you can only use vehicles on the world map.
Menus in this game are easy to understand while very well detailed. From using items to equipping weapons and armor, you can change some of the games setting like message speed or even the battle speed. The status screens are nice too. You get a display of the characters stats as well as their age and a bigger and more detailed portrait of them done in anime style. You can also re-order the party too. There are also some control setting variables you can switch to in case you do not like the default setting.
What I throughly enjoyed about the game play in this game is how fast it is. This game is very fast paced but at the same it can be played slowly. Its intense and the environments of any area are so well done. I always get such a great feel of excitement and adventure whenever I played through this game.
The graphics to this game (even though its only 16 Bit) even to today are plainly beautiful. With great colors and even a relatively high level of detail this game has produced by far some of the greatest graphics ever. Of course in comparison with modern RPGs they're not as good (one might think!) but still, think RETRO. And even in comparison you can still appreciate what a fantastic job Sega did with the graphics of this game. The anime pictures they drew (and there were a TON of them) to accompany the story during scenes were drawn very well and if I did not know any better, it could have easily turned into a manga RPG.
This game has GREAT music as well as some very good sound effects. Anyone who plays enough RPGs can get caught humming to the music of this game. The sounds are also very well accompanied in the battles. Hell even the menus have cool sound effects for selecting/canceling. I always played this game with either headphones on or had two speakers on my TV because the stereo quality of this game is sweet, its damn clear.
Like mentioned in game play: you can change the control settings. The controls are easy to master and respond very well.
Ladies and Gentlemen, make no mistake, I am NOT over rating this game. Take my word for it that this game will forever stay in your hearts, its just simply one of the greatest RPGs of all time. Please remember that Sega made this game so that adds to it. The story is awesome and original, the characters are cool, travel is adventurous, fighting is so invigorating, the music is well scored and the sound defines the action very well- what more could you have asked for?
Another thing: there is very good replay value in this game. I know it sounds crazy but I found myself playing this game twice a year at least. I do not care what it takes for you to get this game, whether you purchase the actual cartridge or emulate it-- just get this game or otherwise miss out on a great adventure.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 06/17/05, Updated 08/25/05
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