Spoony's Tribute to Phantasy Star

One of my all-time favorite RPG series', if not #1.  I've mentioned my fondness for the second and fourth games elsewhere, but I think it's high time I gave the whole series its due.  We'll start off with the first game in the series.



The beginning of the series, and ironically the last one I'd actually played, as I'd never owned a Master System (until this year) and didn't know anyone who had one.  But, thanks to the wonders of both emulation and a Game Boy Advance compilation, I managed to finally play and complete it.

The game opens with this plot scene:


 



Sure, it doesn't look like much by today's standards, but back in the late 80's - an era when Nintendo wouldn't even let designers use the word "Kill" - it was pretty risque to show an onscreen death.

Fairly standard RPG plot stuff here - King Lassic has become corrupted and evil, ruling the Algo solar system with an iron fist, and now your hero is dead set on avenging her brother's death by defeating him.  Of course, you'll need to gather a few allies to stand a chance against him.  Average stats and a little bit of every type of magic can only carry you so far, after all.



Myau, a rare species known as a "Musk Cat", and Odin's travelling companion.  Unfortunately, their quest to slay Medusa went badly; Odin ended up turned to stone and Myau was captured and sold to a merchant from Paseo, where he still resides when Alis finds him.  After bargaining for his freedom, he joins Alis and they set off to revive Odin.  Myau has pretty good stats all around, as well as several useful supportive spells.  He also learns the game's most powerful healing spell, which is exceptionally useful.


Odin, who is revered as a mighty warrior throughout much of Algo.  He sought a powerful axe in Medusa's posession so that he could kill Lassic.  As you may expect, Odin is pretty much the "brute force" character - he has high attack power and can wield a variety of weapons, but cannot use any magic.


Noah, an Esper who joins the party at the request of Motavia's governor.  He serves as the game's primary magic user, posessing both powerful healing spells (including the only spell that can revive killed allies) and offensive magic.  He is rather weak physically, though, so you'll have to keep an eye on him to make sure he doesn't get killed by stronger monsters.

---

While the game's universe is largely a fantastic one, with monsters like giants and mermen, it's also apparent that the original Phantasy Star game was heavily influenced by Star Wars.


The guards and "dome houses" look familiar.


Motavians look an awful lot like Jawas.


Robotic enemy, who bears a resemblance to a character from Empire Strikes Back.


Hapsby, another familiar-looking robot who pilots your spaceship for you.

Perhaps most telling, though, is that there's even a weapon in the game called the "Light Saber".  The manual's illustration gives it the look of a plain sword, but it's pretty obvious what they were referring to there.

The series would deviate from the Star Wars elements as it went on; more fantastic weapons like bows, "slashers" (bladed boomerangs) and claws would arise, and most of the robotic enemies would become more less humanoid and more
"machine-like" in design.  Robotic characters would also play a much larger role in the plots of all the subsequent titles, serving as party members, allies and villains, and technology would be much more prevalent, even to the point of controlling planetary weather systems and tectonics.

---

As well as being one of the first console RPGs to be brought to the United States, Phantasy Star was renowned for its colorful, sharp graphics (widely regarded as some of the best on the system) and for having much more than the bare standard when it came to animation.  Dialog scenes feature detailed portraits of the characters, and in battle your foes actually throw lightning, swing swords and shoot pistols.  A stark contrast to competing RPGs like Dragon Warrior, Shin Megami Tensei and Final Fantasy, most of which would feature minimal animation until the era of the Playstation consoles.  The game also features a female protagonist, which is still something of a rarity in gaming.

Of course, the game is also subject to some technical limitations.  Only one type of enemy can be fought at any given time, and multiple enemies are simply depicted by adding extra HP counters to the side bar and having the same onscreen sprite attack multiple times each round.  Additionally, you cannot target individual enemies in a group; your attacks will simply detract from one HP counter at random.  Fortunately, both of these would be fixed with the advent of the Genesis and subsequent release of Phantasy Star II.


Back
©2008 Spoony