Together Retro Game Club: Phantasy Star

Phantasy Star
Presented by Fastbilly & Racketboy
New To Together Retro? Check out the introduction to the club

Every few years there is a game that redefines what we think a game should be.  Typically these games come from dedicated developers who have polled their fanbase and custom tailored their product as such. However they some times happen simply by chance, they are a final fantasy of those developers, or they are a risk by some dreamers.  Phantasy Star represents the last of these.  It was a calculated risk, but a risk none the less.  It was actually beaten to market by rival Final Fantasy by a few days, but just like its rival spawned a legacy.  So lets travel to the Algol solar system and discover what old King Lassic is up to.

phantasy-star-screens

History

Phantasy Star was released in a time when RPG’s were still mostly played with paper and dice and very rarely on PCs.  Forgoing the established fantasy genre, Phantasy Star pretty muched pioneered the Scifi genre in Japanese styled RPGs. It was crafted mostly by two people: Yuji Naka and Rieko Kodama.  As we all know Yuji Naka is the creator of Sonic the Hedgehog.  Rieko Kodama was an artist who was brought in to Sega to design characters.  She worked on a few games, including the first Alex Kidd, as an assistant or second, but was given lead on Phantasy Star.  Her love of archeology is prevalent in the design of the Phantasy Star titles.  She designed every character, npc, the overworld map, and the battle backgrounds, which is one massive task, especially back then.

The first four titles have a mostly interlocking story (ok so III is out there but the others tie together), about how evil haunts the star
system.  I cannot say too much about the story since it will ruin parts of the first title.  Phantasy Star is also notable for being
possibly the first RPG where the main character is a woman.  And no, shes not a princess, nor is she some sort of amazon warrior woman. Alis is just a girl who’s brother is murdered and she wants revenge. Another noted aspect of Phantasy Star is that the inclusion of our mythology into the storyline is paramount (kinda like in Battlestar Galactica).  Couple that with the custom made mythology for the world, well the game crafts a story that is gripping and intriguing.  I am fearful to get too deep into the story because it can ruin some really unique parts of the games.

However Phantasy Star is probably best known for its first person dungeons.  I am not going to lie, get yourself some graph paper or cheat and use a map.  The dungeons are confusing, long, and will cause you a lot of grief if you do not have/make a map.  Thankfully the first person dungeons were removed in the subsequent titles.  They were a fantastic idea, just way too confusing.

Legacy

Spawning three numerical sequels, a dozen gaidens (side stories), and another franchise that itself has spun off a series, Phantasy Star has had an amazing impact.  Phantasy Star IV is constantly rated as one of the best 16 bit RPGs and Phantasy Star Online holds the distinction of being the first console MMORPG.  And if that wasn’t enough, the community for Phantasy Star Online is so dedicated that they have created their own servers.  Very few titles from can boast that.

  • Phantasy Star – 1987
  • Phantasy Star II – 1989
  • Phantasy Star III – 1990
  • Phantasy Star II Adventures – 1990 – 8 downloadable text adventures
  • Phantasy Star Gaiden – 1992
  • Phantasy Star Adventure – 1992
  • Phantasy Star IV – 1993
  • Phantasy Star Online – 2000
  • Phantasy Star Online Ver. 2 – 2001
  • Phantasy Star Online III CARD – 2003
  • Phantasy Star Online IV Blue Burst – 2005
  • Phantasy Star Universe – 2006
  • Phantasy Star Portable – 2008
  • Phantasy Star Zero – 2008
  • Phantasy Star Portable 2 – 2009

Controls (Master System)

  • Dpad – Move
  • Button 1 – Cancel
  • Button 2 – Confirm

Ports

  • Genesis/Megadrive – Japan only
  • PS2 – Japan only 3d remake
  • Gameboy Advance – Phantasy Star Collection
  • Wii – Virtual Console
  • PS3 – Sonic Genesis Collection
  • 360 – Sonic Genesis Collection

Emulation Help

Together Retro Discussion

Instead of posting in the comments section of the blog, we will be using the forum for all of our discussion in order to keep things more organized. So play Phantasy Star and talk to us about your thoughts and play experiences in the forums. We want to know your tactics, your strategies, your successes and your failures.

6 Comments

  1. kevinski says:

    Ha! Amusingly, I’ve been playing this lately, but my playing thus far as consisted solely of level-grinding. I have yet to even go through a dungeon.

  2. Well, guess I’m off to Office Max to buy a pad of graphing paper so I can avoid walking in circles through the dungeons. Suppose I could level grind till the store opens in the morning.

  3. Alex says:

    Might actually get around to it this time. Got really turned off by the grinding but it seems like a quality game otherwise.

  4. Duce says:

    You forgot one title that was released in Japan:

    Phantasy Star Collection

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ydB-JSxcWA

  5. Duce says:

    I meant, as a Sega Saturn port….

  6. Harry Mason says:

    Theres a English translation of the Japanese version of phantasy star which is great because it includes the far superior fm chip music that was missing from the American release. Find it here:

    http://www.romhacking.net/trans/1069/