Review by CodieKitty

"To All Who Think Only Squaresoft Can Make An RPG..."

From my experiences on it, there is a common belief out there. A belief so common it's almost a religion. That belief is that Squaresoft is the only company that can make an RPG. Ever see that movie at Newgrounds? I have to admit to once being a follower of that belief. I was cured after playing this.

Phantasy Star IV felt like a vastly upgraded Earthbound to me. If you don't know what Earthbound was like, you will later. Now, I hated Earthbound. I get a lot of flame mails for hating Earthbound. I could go into a lot of depth as to why I hated it, but this isn't an Earthbound review. And since this a Phantasy Star IV review, let's review Phantasy Star IV!

Taking place in the Algol star system, the Phantasy Star games, unlike Final Fantasy, are sequels to each other. They are ''chapters'' of a story although a few changes do occur (such as a name change or two).

In earlier chapters of Phantasy Star games, the Algol life-sustaining super computer Mother Brain (boy, the folks of video gaming sure love that name) exploded and the planet Parma was destroyed by a satellite. This chapter of the story takes place on planet Motavia, and is about a young hunter named Chaz. Assisted by his tutor Alys, he sets off to a job in the town of Piata. There, they join up with a scholar named Hahn, and learn about the dark wizard Zio who is wreaking havoc on the planet Motavia. Our party sets out to stop his reign of terror.

So, it's not that interesting in the beginning. If I were to talk about when the plot starts to get really interesting, I'd be violating the No Spoilers rule.

Er... RPGs are really hard to explain to people who've never played one. If you've played Final Fantasy, Earthbound, or something along those lines it will help in the description of Phantasy Star IV's gameplay. You start out with two characters although the first time you fight you'll have three. You can then go about examining stuff to see what Chaz has to say about it, talk to people, buy some equipment, and the like. In some places, when you wander around enough the screen turns white. No, your game didn't just glitch up. You're going into a battle. Sometimes this happens if you trigger something and end up fighting a boss which is basically a buffed up enemy.

The battle mode kind of reminds me of Earthbound, but that's more into the graphics. Battle mode works with little menus popping up and you selecting something. What you select is a command that your character will do when his/her turn comes up. The turns are usually decided on the speed of you and your opponents, fastest going first and slowest going last. If you win, you get some experience. If a character gains enough experience, they get a little stronger.

This game has something interesting about the battling method. If two character use a certain attack and they attack one right after the other, they combine the attacks to make them even nastier than they might have already been. But if an ally or an enemy attacks between those character's attacks, they use them separately. They can be kind of annoying to pull off, but really sweet when you do.

There isn't much control needed to play an RPG. Just issue the commands and let the game do the fighting for you. One annoying thing about controlling your character in the overworld mode. If you hit a corner and keep pressing the direction you were going in, the character will turn and go around the corner. Very annoying at times when you're trying to examine something.

For me, the low point of the gameplay was the challenge. It wasn't arctic freeze low, but it was a bit easy at times. There are some bosses that will cheese you like one you fight in the last fourth of the game that I barely beat, but other than that it shouldn't be much of a problem if you recover often. I mean, I beat the final boss on my first try. The game also felt a little short.

In the overworld mode, the scenery is well detailed and fits the environment of where you are. The people, your characters and everyone around you, on the other hand look a bit weird. They look a bit like kids and they're not too detailed.

In Earthbound, the battle mode looked really lousy. The backgrounds were enough to make anyone motion sick, the attacks consisted of a slap or a pop that made your opponents flash, and the opponents attacked by making a ''bam'' noise or the screen flash different colors. In this, the battle scene is very well done. The backgrounds look real, the enemies animate (and well, I might add), and the attacks looks real (and some look very cool). Both you and your enemies are well detailed and animate well.

You've also got some cutscenes every now and then that look very good. They're not animated, they're just little pictures that pop up one the screen. But they still look really good. It looks like something straight out of an animè or a manga. From what I hear, the reason this is so is because Sega put in a bunch of chips to make the graphics like they are. I also hear the game sold for $100 new and that was one of the reasons.

The music is certainly above average. You've got a variety of nice tunes in here, such as the peaceful town music and an up-beat casual boss music to the music that plays when the game is in ''panic'' mode and the first Dezolis music which sounds dreary and hostile. There's also the slow, creepy music when fighting Zio. A couple of the songs I didn't really care for, but there wasn't anything I found particularly annoying.

The sound effects are mostly in the battle mode. There's sword slashes, little tinkling from certain magic attacks, explosions, several other things and the little noise from when you defeat an enemy. There's also a few sound effects in the cutscenes, although off the top of my head I can only recall one. Again, nothing really annoying here.

Plot: 9/10
Gameplay: 10/10
Control: 9/10
Graphics: 10/10
Sound: 9/10
Overall: 10/10

This is a must for your Genesis collection. It's a lot of fun, it's got very sweet graphics, and good sound. It's also the perfect game to throw at somebody who think only Square can make an RPG.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 11/07/02, Updated 11/07/02

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