Review by Jp7010

"The last of the REAL Phantasy Stars."

This was the first RPG I've ever played, and since then I have played every RPG I could find, but only one has been able to hold it's own when compared to this marvel.

Story: 10/10
This installment in the Phantasy Star saga wraps it up for this series, ignoring Sega's attempt at money with Phantasy Star Online. In this game, you take the role of Chaz Ashley, a hunter on the planet of Motavia. Following the standard of RPG cliches, you become the last hero to save the world! Throughout the game you will meet old friends and foes of the past Phantasy Star games. And I found myself saying ''Well, I guess that's the end.. oh wait, there's MORE!'' quite a few times while playing this game. Not that that's a bad thing, I was always excited at what interesting story elements and plot twists would be thrown in next. But once the ending is coming, believe me, you will know. Speaking of the ending, this definitely has one of the better tear-jerking endings of any RPG. I every now and then just play through this game again, just to absorb the story again. Kind of like reading a good book again and again. But, as in all early Sega translations, the plot has a few more holes than in the Japanese version, but, those should only be of concern if you try to piece together every little thing in all of the Phantasy Star games.

Gameplay: 10/10
Turn-based RPG fun. Everything's menu-driven, and very simple. It's top-down style while walking through the field, towns, and dungeons. The battles are done in a Dragon Quest/Warrior-style. With all RPGs, there are shops that sell weapons, armor, items. Inns, that will get progressively more expensive as the game goes on.
The battle system is turn-based. You pick your moves, you watch the battle play out as you and your enemies attack each other, and once everyone has done their move, you chose again. Of particular interest is the separation of magic into techniques and skills. Techniques are generic moves, each character has a set of these, but, multiple characters can have the same techniques (for example, Res, the basic healing technique, almost all of your characters learn this tech). But then there are certain techniques which only one or two characters will learn (Hinas, for example, only two or three of your characters will learn this). And then there are skills. Skills are moves that are unique to each character (except in one case, which I'll get into later). And these skills will reflect the attributes of the character. By this I mean a swordsman will have powerful sword skills, the mages will have powerful magic skills, the healers powerful healing skills, and so on. Another good idea implemented into the battle system, is combos. Yes, you can combine certain techniques and magic to create even more devastating attacks. For example, you can combine a fire spell, and a wind spell, to creating a devastating fire tornado of sorts. And yet another very good feature of the battle system are macros. Macros are pre-set battle movements. Since the battle movements are randomized, this can be very helpful in making sure healing spells are done first, or combos are successfully executed.
The battles are random encounters, that occur in the fields, and in the dungeons. The dungeons themselves are somewhat simpler compared to the dungeons of Phantasy Star 2. That's not to say there aren't giant, massively complicated dungeons, but the first few dungeons are real no-brainers.
Also unlike Phantasy Star 2, you can't change the names of the characters. Chaz is Chaz, Alys is Alys, you cannot change Amy to Jane. For some this may be a negative factor, but for me, I like the names being set, I feel it gives a better sense of the character.

Graphics: 9/10
Yes, in 2001, the simple sprites of a 16-bit RPG are to laugh at, but for when this game was released (1994), these graphics were nothing to laugh at. The character and NPC sprites are done very simplistically, but work very well for the anime-style this game tries to present. The anime-style cut scenes are also done quite well. They manage to convey the emotion and intensity of a moment with little animation, and look good doing it. The towns are well detailed. A town in despair looks like a town in despair, a town in 10 feet of snow looks like a town in 10 feet of snow. The battles also look good, with well animated backdrops, enemies, and attacks. The waves splash against the beach when you fight along the coast, and computers light up when you fight in a factory.

Sound: 9/10
The music sets the mood quite well in important scenes, and in dungeons. In a cybernetic dungeon, a heavily-techno beat plays. When walking in a peaceful village, upbeat music plays and so on. The sounds are almost non-existent, beeps for selecting items on the menu, and the sound effects of attack moves, activating magic, and using potions. The sounds are all pretty generic, but fit the old Genesis game well.

Controls: 9/10
All pretty standard. 'Start' brings up the options menu (message speed, save, etc.), 'A' and 'C' are the affirmative commands (for selecting an item, or similar), and 'B' is the negative command (for backing out of a menu, for instance). The D-pad moves around the character, or the cursors in the menus. Nothing stellar, all pretty standard, but it gets the job done.

Replay: 9/10
It's definitely worth 1 or 2 tries through, at maybe 30 hours a run through, to see the ending, get all the skills and techniques possible, and such. Those so inclined may even try to hit level 98. But, for the casual RPG-player (read: non-Phantasy Star-fanatic), one run through will do enough. The sound test is a good feature to strive for at the end, but, that's pretty much it.

Total: 56/60, 9/10
Rent/Buy/Pass-by: Buy

Probably the best Genesis RPG, and in this age of polygons, the story told with these sprites is still impressive. It is probably the 3rd most expensive game to get for the Genesis these days (which is only ~$25). Most people would probably want to pass this ancient RPG by, but I believe that they should all give this game a try. If you have a Genesis, you should have this game, and if you like RPG's, you should have this game.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 06/27/01, Updated 06/27/01

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