Back and Forth, The Dance Goes On – Sega Genesis – Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom – 1991

Phantasy Star III Title

Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom
Sega Genesis
Sega
Genre: Sci-Fi Role-Playing
1991

There are elements that a series needs to hold its own after a number of iterations.  Looking at franchises like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Breath of Fire– and yes, Phantasy Star- there is always a need for new mechanics, more engaging stories, and overall higher quality content to justify to the fans that they should return to your series.  The first entry is an introduction; a work that needs to be pushed through its outward presentation before gamers will give it a whirl.  The second entry is a proving ground, where a series shows that it can deliver lightning in the same place again with a few upgrades here and there.

The third entry is the experiment.  With Final Fantasy, we got interchangeable classes.  With Dragon Quest, the ability to create your own party with their own quirks.  With Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom, there was a solid jumping off point with the improvements that the second game offered over the first, but there were still some mechanics that could use a little work for one reason or another.  Given the success of the series thus far and being the first RPG series on the Sega system, it was imperative for the third Phantasy Star to dig in its heels and stake its claim to continue on successfully.  

While we know that Phantasy Star IV released, leading one to believe that part three can’t have done too poorly, how exactly does Phantasy Star III stand up to the rest of the series?  Given how fondly people usually speak about the second and fourth pieces of the mainline series, it’s interesting to see the evolution into the third and where it hits and misses the targets set up by prior entries.

If you’d like, feel free to check out my prior analysis of Phantasy Star and Phantasy Star II before reading up on this entry!

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A Deeper Shade of Inky Black – Sega Genesis – Phantasy Star II – 1990

Phantasy Star II Title

Phantasy Star II
Sega Genesis
Sega
Genre: Sci-Fi Role Playing
1990

Having recently played through the original Phantasy Star recently, I can say that it took a lot of steps to revolutionize role-playing games and was quite ambitious for the time.  You can see my impressions on that game here.  At the time, the market wasn’t as saturated as it is now, and while the premier role-playing games of the time can be difficult to go back to for a number of reasons, they tend to conjure up feelings of nostalgia and warm feelings of falling in love with a genre that was really beginning to flourish in the West.

Phantasy Star II has a few things going for it over the original from the beginning- Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy came out around the time so the market was starting to come into its own.  Not to mention the fact that its predecessor had been well reviewed by critics and the public alike.

Having had a couple of years to perfect and enhance the experience for their fans, how does the second entry to the series fare not only against the test of time but against the previous entry?

As a note, I’m going to try to delineate certain discussion points for future reviews to keep them segmented and outline where spoilers might be.  It may be expected, but given that this is a sequel related to the original, there may be spoilers throughout.

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Every Good Rebellion Has a Rough Beginning – Sega Master System – Phantasy Star – 1988

Phantasy Star Title

Phantasy Star
Sega Master System
Sega
Genre: Role-Playing Game
1988

When people talk about fantastic role-playing games from the 16-bit era, the same answers tend to crop up- Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana- but rarely do you hear a game from the Sega corner of the universe first out of a gamer’s mouth.  That’s not to say, however, that it never happens.

Sega Genesis has some pretty solid entries into the RPG arena, but most of them are one-offs or largely forgettable.  One series that has still had some kind of traction after all of these years, though, is the Phantasy Star series.  Predating Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior on US shores, Phantasy Star made a splash when it came out but appears to have fallen to the wayside over time for one reason or another, subject to romantic reminiscences from diehard fans with charmed memories.

With a myriad of titles in the series across a number of systems, let’s take a look into the original Phantasy Star and the number of ways it should- or should not be- fondly remembered.  As with most story-heavy games reviewed here, be forewarned that there will be spoilers, though hopefully in short supply.

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Like a Fine Wine – Sega Genesis – Phantasy Star IV – 1995

Phantasy Star IV: End of the Millenium
© 1995
Sega
Genre: Sci-Fi Role Playing

For a long while, especially due to the success of games like Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior/Quest, role playing games for consoles rarely strayed from the path of fantasy and borderline steampunk settings.  Every so often, a reference would sneak in about an ‘ancient race’ that had technology beyond that of the world’s setting, but for the most part, it was a case of not breaking what didn’t need to be fixed.

Sega, however, created a small monster in the Phantasy Star series, integrating a sci-fi setting with fantasy elements into a role playing experience.  The highly regarded Phantasy Star IV had its work cut out for it, especially given its competition of the time.  Not only was it a deviation from the norm, but it had plenty of ground to cover from the super giant of role playing games at the time, the Super Nintendo.  Still, it managed to carve out a large fan base and remains a nostalgic part of many gamers’ experience with the Sega Genesis.  Is it all nostalgia holding up this game, though, or does it really stand its ground against today’s standards?

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