Pros: Cut scenes, anime designed sprites
Cons: Hours and hours of leveling up for no reason, annoying
background music, a classic that has aged
After Square's and Nintendo's
successful remakes and releases Sega started their Ages (Ages = sega
spelled backwards, those clever people in marketing!) series, which is
designed to remake Sega classics. The Ages series had its genesis during
the time of the Saturn. None of the remixed games saw light on US shores
due to the lack of interest in the Saturn, but there is a chance that some
of these games will see the light of day on the PS2. The first game in the
PS2 series is a true classic Phantasy Star.
The original Phantasy Star featured some leaps in gaming. First of all
the cartridge was a massive 4 megabits, the game featured 3D dungeon
graphics, this was one of the rare sci-fi RPGs, and last but not least the
game had stereo sound. OK, so none of these sound particularly appealing
for a PS2 game. Thankfully, Sega didn't just repackage the game and sell
it. Sega did put some time and care into remaking the game. First you'll
notice the graphics received a significant upgrade to them. There are
text based cut scenes in the game, with anime inspired graphics. While the
story remains essentially the same, the cut scenes flush out the story
giving in more depth. The 3D view was thrown out in favor of the top-down
view that was used in other Phantasy Star games. The sprites in this view
are similar to Phantasy Star 4 for the Genesis. This has its own set of
pros and cons, fans of the series are likely to appreciate the
style, while new players will question why the graphics look so "bad".
Besides the graphics the entire game has an "old school" feel to it.
This is mostly due to the stale gameplay. The gameplay is standard RPG
fare, standard old school RPG fare to be exact. This means wandering
around battling monsters for hours so you can level up your character
enough to survive a dungeon. Battling is a tedious affair itself. In
battle you have four commands: fight, magic, collaboration and run. Fight
is your basic melee attack, the only problem is you will see the same
animation of your character running up to smack the enemy way too many
times. Magic comes in three flavors: recovery, attack and effect. The game
suffers from a balance where there are times that magic is entirely
worthless except for using recovery magic. The spell effects got a
graphical upgrade, with some Final Fantasy style effects, however while
the spell effects are initially cool they also get rather repetitive. This
is due to a lack of magic options in the game. The collaboration command
is a new command, that allows your character to draw on powers that are
derived from a combination of crystals. You have the option of pairing two
types of crystals on your character for a new attack. For example if you
mix two fire crystals and you get flare, mix fire and wind and you get
firestorm. Sadly, the collaboration system is the only real character
customization in the entire game.
The dungeons are long and arduous affairs much like standard combat.
They also feature endless amounts of the same enemy sprites. Completing
dungeons means progressing the story, which is the only driving reason to
play the game. As stated above the core story is the same as the original
game. The main character Alis is on a quest to avenge her brother who was
killed by the evil King Lassic. On her quest she be joined by a cat
creature, her brother's friend, and finally a legendary magician.
The story is pretty basic, it was written in the 1980s after all, so don't
expect a novel here.
Arguably, the worst part of the game is the sound. The music is awful,
while it is reminiscent of the original music it just doesn't have the
same effect as it did back in 1988. Not only is it bad you have to hear it
over and over again. The sound effects suffer from the same repetition
problem that the music does making the entire sound area abysmal.
Phantasy Star for the master system was a classic, this remake isn't.
Blame it on the old gameplay, the loss of all the appealing features in
the original Phantasy star, or the awful music. It doesn't really matter
this game isn't as fun as the original. Hopefully, the rest of the Sega
Ages series won't suffer the same problems that this game does.
Not very, since the entire story and menus are all in Japanese. If you
really want this game and can't read Japanese there is an FAQ on GameFAQs
that explains the majority of the menus.
As of now none of the Sega Ages series games are slated for a US
Phantasy Star suffers from the old school gameplay syndrome. The
game isn't as timeless as other classics and feels like its missing the
fun that it once had. The game needs more than remade graphics to make it