Many people have heard of Phantasy Star (from here on out called PS), but generally think of PS Online, PS Universe, or PS Portable. However, the roots of the series go back to the late 80’s and is one of the pioneers in console Role Playing Games. It also has a special place in my heart, as I remember the late nights (at least late for a 5 year old) watching my dad play. So, do you remember the original Phantasy Star?
The series debuted on the Sega Master System in 1987 in Japan and 1988 in America for between $70 and $80 to generally high reception. It may not have been the first console RPG, but it was the first to offer a truly compelling story and “3D like” graphics that actually worked. It was later re-released on both Sega Saturn and Playstation 2 in Japan, on the Game Boy advance in North America, and most recently on the Wii Virtual Console in 2009.
The game revolves around one of video games very first female protagonist, Alis Landale, who sought revenge for the death of her brother. He had been the leader of a resistance against King Lassic, ruler of the Algol solar system, who had recently began to rule with an unfair and iron fist. No one knew why King Lassic changed, but it started after he converted to a new religion.
The story evolves, as many RPG’s have done since, into a fight to save the universe. Alis is joined by Miyau, a talking cat, Odin, your typical warrior, and Noah, an Esper Magician, as they travel between the planets of Palma, a lush and green planet, Motavia, the desert planet, and Dezolis, a planet always covered in ice.
In the end, it turns out that an ancient evil entity named Dark Force (spelled Dark Falz in the first game), who appears every 1000 years and brings with him mass destruction, had taken control of King Lassic to wage his war against Algol. It is only because of these four heroes that Dark Force is pushed back, leading to a period of recovery followed by prosperity, until stories of Dark Force are lost to time and he rises once again.
As you can see from the images and videos, the game truly was ahead of it’s time. While the world map was top down, the dungeons switched to a first person perspective. This helped immerse the player into the world, but also made the dungeons more complicated due to no in game maps or internet. I remember the hours my mom spent mapping out each and every movement through all of the dungeon on graph paper while my dad played.
I recently played through this game and I have to say that is has held up, other than the constant need to grind levels in order to beat the next area. This is the 25th anniversary of the game, and I highly recommend it for anyone who can go back to a simpler time in gaming.