The first console RPG released in the US, went sadly unnoticed simply because it was on the Sega Master System. Phantasy Star was way ahead of its time. Sega made an excellent masterpiece with this game, and nobody even knew about it until its sequel came out for the Genesis. Well enough complaining about how underrated the game is, it's time to start the review. In Phantasy Star you play the role of Alis whose brother Nero was killed by Lassic. You set off on a journey to overthrow (a nice way of saying kill) the evil tyrant Lassic (Is it possible to have a good tyrant?). Along the way you meet up with three other adventurers, Odin the Warrior, Myau the talking cat (Who looks suspiciously like a Pokemon), and Noah the Mage (Who suffers from gender confusion).
I love this game! I just thought I would share that piece of information. As with most standard RPGs, Phantasy Star has a 2-D overhead view as you wander through the world and in towns. However when you go into dungeons it has a 3-D first person view of the dungeon (which makes it real easy to become lost). Otherwise it's a standard console RPG. (but a fun one!)
When you bring up the menu, it actually goes to a 3-D first person screen showing you surroundings. I think this is a neat idea. Rather than just having the menu appear over the overhead view, it shows your surroundings and puts the menu over that picture. The menu is quite basic and simple to navigate, nothing to complain about here.
But what sets this game apart from most other console RPGs is the first person view dungeons. When you enter a dungeon you get to see the dungeon from you character's point of view. The only problem is the walls all look the same, and there isn't anything else to help determine where you're at. With no auto-mapping feature, it becomes quite easy to become lost. (That's why I always made my own maps as I went along) I'm not sure whether the 3-D dungeons are good or bad, but they're definitely original.
Combat is done from a first person perspective as well. You get to see a picture of the terrain you are standing in (Yay!), except in dungeons where the monsters simply pop out of nowhere right onto the dungeon view. You can fight as many as 8 monsters at a time, although only one picture of the monster shows up. (But at least the monsters are animated, I think Sega has a few things to teach Enix and Square). The combat is turn-based with you characters taking turns attacking with the monsters. Fairly basic combat and not too many spells or other things to do, making the combat nice and easy, no massive thinking required.
What really sets the game apart from the others is its Sci-Fi/Fantasy setting. In this game you not only get to explore one world but three! There's Palma, the Earth-like planet, Motavia, the desert planet, and Dezoris, the ice planet. When you go between the worlds you actually get to see the ship fly from one planet to another!
Phantasy Star has 3 large worlds to explore, and once you get a space ship, you can freely explore them all, and go anywhere you want. There's always a new town or dungeon just around the corner. I've always liked exploring new places and finding new things.
None of the fights are too hard if you level up enough. Speaking of leveling up, this game requires tons of leveling up at the beginning, but once you get all your characters, you shouldn't have to level up at all. The last fight is the only one that is really hard; the final boss can be quite a pain to beat. The hardest part of the game, however is figuring out what to do. There are a few locations in the game where it can be difficulty to figure what you need to do.
This game can be fun to play through again, especially if you've made maps the first time so you don't become lost in the dungeons. There's also lots of optional quests, so you may have missed something, so it's worth it to play through again and make sure you found everything.
Phantasy Star has fairly interesting story, but it doesn't get developed much. For the most part you simply explore around trying to find out how to get to Lassic. In addition the game has a major plot twist, that seems to come out of nowhere. But still, the story is interesting, even though you really need to play through Phantasy 2 and 4 to fully understand and appreciate it. At least each of the characters has some background story behind them.
One thing I noticed is that in the book is says the Noah is a male, in the game it says Noah is a female. (or maybe the other way around) Either Noah is suffering from gender confusion or the translators had a bad day. I really can't tell from the picture of Noah either, so I guess it's a mystery.
This game has the best graphics of any SMS game, and much better graphics than any NES game. By today's standards they are nothing special, but considering it came out in 1987 it's rather impressive. And it has animated monsters!!!!
I like the music too. (Much better than NES music) They are quite a few different tunes throughout the game, and all of them are nice and help set the mood for the game. While you can't expect Mozart, the music is still good. As for sound effects, well they are the usual beeps and such.
Overall Rating: 10/10
This game is definitely years ahead of its time, and that's one of the reasons I like it so much, plus it's on the SMS which has much superior hardware to the NES. But unfortunately nobody bought an SMS so very few people have actually played this awesome game!
I highly recommend this game. Personally I think it's much better than Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior II. (Both of which were released at roughly the same time as Phantasy Star) Be sure to try the game, and if you don't like it, well then I'm not giving you a cookie.<!/page>