Retrospective Phantasy Star

Written in 2003 / 2019


Phantasy Star is a series which presents you an epic storyline over thousands of years like almost no other RPG series does. The creators of the original saga were very cautious that the story is self-contained, so the three original Phantasy Star games (Phantasy Star 1, 2 and 4) are still unmatched in terms of creating a own universe.

Aside of the main series, there is the 3/Online-Storyline which is some kind of sidestory based on the events in Phantasy Star 2.

The game made a move towards being release in Japan only in the early to mid 2010s, now new games have been released in the west, aside of remakes or collections.

Original storyline

Phantasy Star (1987)

Lassic, the once good-hearted ruler of the Algol Star System turned into a mean dictator who surpresses his people. The brother of our heroine Alys is also one of Lassics victims - his sister vows for revenge and unveils the truth beneath Lassics shift of attitude. This RPG has animated attacks, 3D dungeons and it was the first RPG with a female main character.

The game was developed in 1986 / 1987 with the new Master System in mind. Nice graphics and an astounding soundtrack in FM quality make the game one of the first ageless RPGs (see here).

Phantasy Star 2 (1989)

1000 years after Alys freed the Algol system from Lassic's reign of terror, the whole system is controlled by a gigantic main computer called Mother Brain. One day one of the clima control facilities on the former desert planet Motavia goes haywire and our main hero Rolf has been ordered to find out why this happened. This was the first RPG on the new Sega Mega Drive. The 3D dungeons of its predecessor have been exchanged with standard 2D dungeons. You can play four out of seven heroes.

This game was developed in a mere six months to have a RPG ready on the new Sega Mega Drive console. It really shows, the game's hard and does not even have distinct battle backgrounds.

Phantasy Star 4 (1993)

Mother Brain has been destroyed thousand years ago and the Algo Solar System lies in shambles. The interplanetarian communication has stopped, everything is on the verge of destruction. You accompany Alys and her young partner Chaz in their life as Hunters, brave persons who get rid of monsters or escort people in the dangerous world of Motavia. The game intentionally should have 3D dungeons like Phantasy Star I had, but Sega changed all of it as the game was nearly finished.

Back to the roots and the last game of the classic storyline. Phantasy Star is one of the few game series that eventually ended in a orderly fashion with a complete storyline that's not watered down by prequels and sequels that come up with a "BUT SOMETHING SURVIVED" storyline. Well, at least if you ignore the following mess.

Online storyline

Phantasy Star III (1990)

When Palma was destroyed during the events of Phantasy Star II, many citizens of this planed saved their lives by entering gigantic recue spaceships that are capable of breeding life for a very long time. 1000 years after Phantasy Star, you watch the civilization of one of these spaceships for some generations. You can play for three generations, making four different endings possible. Quite awesome for a 1990 RPG, huh?

This was the first Phantasy Star not made by the original team, since most of the cast was occupied with creating Sonic the Hedgehog for the Mega Drive console. The team behind Phantasy Star 3 was also responsible for some Golden Axe games prior to this game. You can tell by the different art style and environment.

Phantasy Star Online (2000)

Another of the Palmanian spaceships is the basis for Phantasy Star Online. Discover a new planet for the citizens of the rescue spaceships. This game addicted quite many online gamers. It included an international chat system in 5 languages and synchronized time zones for America, Japan and Europe. Version 2 is a slight modification of the Version 1 game.

Many people hosted their own servers even after Sega shut down the lobbies. It's still a highly regarded game even today.

Phantasy Star Online Ep. I & II (2002)

A sequel to the Dreamcast PSO. It offered new environments and enemies (Episode II) in addition to the classic dungeons and monsters. It contained a four-player offline mode and tons of secrets. The XBox version even enabled voice chat.

Another game that helped the Phantasy Star Online saga thrive. At this moment in time, the sidestory became more popular than the original story. Many gamers played a Phantasy Star game without having ever set a foot on Motavia, Palma or Dezolis.

Phantasy Star Online 3 C.A.R.D Revolution (2003)

This game invented card-based fighting into the world of Ragol. Many players loved this game for its great graphics, its superb online mode and the neat offline story. It's the last game that plays on Ragol

This game basically ends the story of the Online Storyline that began with Phantasy Star III. Future games didn't have a clear reference to older Phantasy Star games anymore.

Phantasy Star Online 2 (2012)

A game that was meant as a successor to Phantasy Star online was released in 2014. It was only released in Japan, a western release had first been delayed and was then eventually cancelled altogether.

The games's server are still running as of 2018, four years after its initial release and new versions of the game for various platforms are still being released.

Spin offs

Phantasy Star Gaiden (1992)

This Phantasy Star is not as grown-up as the others are. It plays shortly after Phantasy Star I, but on a completely different solar system this time.

Basically, this was a Game Gear game to cash in on the popular Phantasy Star series in 1992, in between Phantasy Star III and Phantasy Star IV. It is told to be a good game.

Collections

Phantasy Star Collection (Sega Saturn, 1998)

This is a japanese collection that included Phantasy Star I - IV, artworks and TV commercials.

I bought this on the Sega Saturn back in 2001 and really enjoyed it. I wasn't able to play the games since I don't know wa word of Japanese, but I browsed through the art galleries a lot and listened to the enhanced music.

Phantasy Star Collection (Game Boy Advance, 2003)

Another collection that includes various Phantasy Star games. Sadly enough, this game includes Phantasy Star I, II and III, which is completely illogical, story-wise. A great opportunity for fans who don't have the old Sega consoles.

I'm still not totally clear why they included 1, 2 and 3 and not 4? Even for the Gameboy Advance, the size for a Mega Drive cartridge shouldn't be a problem. And even if they only could include three games, they could have named them Phantasy Star, Phantasy Star II and Phantasy Star: The end of the millennium.

Only sharing the name

Phantasy Star Zero (2008)

A Phantasy Star game for the Nintendo DS systm with offline gameplay and multiplayer features. It features some races from Phantasy Star Online, but other than that it's a completely new game with self created characters.

The director once stated in an interview that he tried to open up Phantasy Star for a younger audience with this game.

Phantasy Star Universe storyline

Phantasy Star Universe (2006)

A new Phantasy Star game introduced in 2006 for the Playstation 2 and Xbox 360, it was an action RPG with online multiplayer that plays on a Space Station and a new Solar System consisting of three planet.

PSU received with average reviews and was soon forgotten in the western hemisphere, the official servers have been shut down for long now. It is only loosely tied to the brand name (much like Shining Force).

Phantasy Star Portable (2008)

This game continues the story that began with Phantasy Star Universe. It's set in the Gurhal star system (the one with the three planets, but not the original one) and else doesn't have too much in common with any classic Phantasy Star games.

PS Portable also received mixed reviews and just seems to be another watered down game that rode on the still popular Phantasy Star Online wave of the late 2000s.

Phantasy Star Portable 2 (2009)

Set after the events of Phantasy Star Portable, the game again plays in the Gurhal system with the players being mercenaries that try to find resources and materials.

Again, the game was big in Japan with a good review by the popular Famitsu magazine, but on other continents, it received average ratings.

Phantasy Star Nova (2014)

With a totally new game with a new planet to venture on, Phantasy Star Nova is an action RPG that had been developed by tri-ace for the Playstation Vita console. This game features local multiplayer.

The game has been released only in Japan and China. It still has some Phantasy Star Online vibe.


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