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Thread: The Universe of Phantasy Star

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    Peach (Level 3) NeoZeedeater's Avatar
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    Default The Universe of Phantasy Star

    With the buzz surrounding Phantasy Star Universe lately I figure it's a good time to take a look back at this great franchise.

    December 20th, 1987. This was the day the first Phantasy Star game was released in Japan for the Mark III/Master System. I find the date significant because that was only two days after the first Final Fantasy game debuted on the Famicom and five days after Nintendo released their first RPG, Ginga no Sannin.

    While Japanese RPGs had already become popular by this time in their homeland thanks mostly to Dragon Quest, they were still non-existant in the West. In 1988, Phantasy Star was the first Japanese RPG(not including Action/RPGs) localized. It also began the trend of pricing RPGs higher than other console games as it was the most expensive console game of the time(I remember it being around $100 Canadian, I think the US price was around $70).

    The game itself was unlike anything I had ever seen. Graphically it was the most advanced game on console with its fluid 3d dungeons and huge detailed enemies. Its unique sci-fi/fantasy hybrid world was very different than the Ultima and D&D style RPGs I had previously been exposed to and it drew me in.




    While not a Phantasy Star game, Sega's 1988 Mark III adventure game Hoshi wo Sagashite - The Story of Mio is worth noting because its world relates to Phantasy Star by having the same planets in it.


    Phantasy Star II for the Genesis was the first big RPG of the 16-bit era. It was released in Japan in early 1989 and in the West near the end of the year. PSII had a darker look than the original and the 3d dungeons were gone. The game was brutal in difficulty though so the frustation factor was high. Overall, I'm a bigger fan of the first game but PSII was veryimpressive for its time and a great start for the new console.




    Phantasy Star III(1990 in Japan, 1991 in the West) on Genesis is the black sheep of the series. It was designed by a different Sega team and thus has a different look. The structure is similar to the past games though. I still enjoyed it and liked the "Generations" concept, i.e. your character can choose who to marry. This results in different children which then become the main character. It was a small bit of open-endedness that I wished future RPGs would have.




    The Game Gear in Japan received a couple side-stories to the series in 1992. Phantasy Star Adventure was a graphic adventure and was simplistic as Japanese ones tend to be compared to their more puzzle based Western counterparts. I tried a translated rom and I wasn't impressed.



    Phantasy Star Gaiden was an RPG. I haven't put much time into it.



    In 1993 Phantasy Star 1 was re-released in very limited quantities on the Mega Drive. It was not upgraded from the Master System version as far as I know.


    Game no Kanzume Volume 1 and 2 were 1994 Mega CD collections of small games previous released via the Mega Drive modem. Each has a few Phantasy Star II text adventure games.



    Phantasy Star IV had a lot to live up to when it was released for the Genesis in 1994(it came out at the end of 1993 in Japan). I say this because during the time between PSIII and PSIV, JRPGs had evolved. Square had released two SNES Final Fantasy games(one domestically) in this period with one soon to come out and Game Arts had Lunar. These games were big on presentation. FF used the impressive color palette and Mode 7 of the SNES and Lunar used the storage and audio capabilities of the Sega CD to make a more cinematic experience. These games took JRPGs in a more story oriented direction.

    Because of Final Fantasy's advancements I found PSIV's battle graphic detail, color and sound a little lacking but its classic Phantasy Star style was still one of the best RPG worlds around and I find it has aged as well as the best SNES RPGs anyway. Sega followed the trend of making the genre less difficult as PSIV is much easier than its predecessors.




    PSIV also appeared in pirated Taiwanese NES form as Wang Xin Zhan Shi.

    Phantasy Star Collection was released for the Japanese Saturn in 1998. It consisted of the four main games. It also had other extras like art galleries. The 32-bit era passed with no new Phantasy Star games.


    Also from 1998 was Sega Smash Pack for PC which included Phantasy Star II emulated alongside other Sega games. This was released in Japan as Sega Archives From U.S.A. Vol. 1.
    http://www.algol-star-system.net/cli...chive-usa1.jpg

    The franchise was resurrected in 2000 with Phantasy Star Online for the Dreamcast. Instead of a turn-based, party-based RPG PSO was an online ARPG where you controlled a single character and could join three other players online. Although already popular on PC with games like Diablo, PSO was the first online game of its kind on console.

    Opinions seem pretty mixed on PSO from old-school Phantasy Star fans. Before it was released I feared it would be Phantasy Star in name only but after playing it I could rest easy. It was a beautiful modernization of the old look and while a simple dungeon crawler at heart, there's something special about it that's hard to pinpoint. I was addicted to the game for a few months(until the cheaters ruined it).




    Phantasy Star Online Ver. 2 was released for the Dreamcast later in 2001 with new items and modes. What pissed me off was how they added a monthly fee. I never tried this version.

    PSO was also ported to PC.

    The Dreamcast also had a Sega Smash Pack with Phantasy Star II. Most of them games were different than the PC one.

    Published by THQ, developed by Digital Eclipse, and supervised by Sega's Overworks team was Phantasy Star Collection for Game Boy Advance. This included the first three Phantasy Star games. Overall it's a great deal although the emulation is certainly not perfect as there are resolution and sound issues. I'm sure it's as good as they could have done with the hardware though... well aside from the occasional crashing which shouldn't be there.

    Phantasy Star Online: Episode I & II was released for Gamecube in 2002 and Xbox in 2003. This was a port of the Dreamcast game combined with an extra episode with new areas. I haven't played this myself as I didn't want to pay the monthly fee and I was burnt out on the first game.



    A second version appeared on Gamecube called Phantasy Star Online: Episode I & II Plus.

    A simplified version of Phantasy Star 1 was released for Japanese cell phones in 2003.

    Sega Ages Phantasy Star Generation: 1 was a 2003 budget game for Playstation 2 by D3. It was a remake of the first Phantasy Star.



    In 2004, Phantasy Star Online: Episode III C.A.R.D. Revolution was released for Gamecube. Unlike the previous games this was a turn-based strategy game. A lot of people bash this game because it isn't the genre they wanted but I think it's quite good. The new artist they got and the handdrawn cinemas are nice too. They were lazy on the engine though as it's not really upgraded from the Dreamcast original.


    Phantasy Star 1 was also remade for cell phone in 2004. I hope someone emulates and translates this version some day.




    Phantasy Star: End of the Millenium(PSIV) was re-released in Japan for PC in 2004.
    http://www.algol-star-system.net/lib...dia/ps4pc1.jpg

    Phantasy Star: Blue Burst is a recent PC update to Episode I & II with new quests. It stores data on servers that can't be accessed by simple cheat devices which was a problem with the past versions.

    Sega Ages Phantasy Star Generation: 2 came out just over a month ago in Japan. Who knows if we'll get these PS2 games here. They're supposed to come out as Phantasy Star Trilogy once PSIV is remade.


    And now we come to the newest game, Phantasy Star Universe for Playstation 2 and PC. With independent offline and online game modes, I'm really excited.

    EGM scans -
    http://www.gameraddicts.com/forums/f...stscan_193.jpg
    http://www.gameraddicts.com/forums/files/page2_718.jpg
    http://www.gameraddicts.com/forums/files/page3_340.jpg
    http://www.gameraddicts.com/forums/files/page4_886.jpg
    http://www.gameraddicts.com/forums/files/page5_179.jpg





    Some Phantasy Star fan sites to check out -

    http://www.phantasy-star.net/
    http://www.phantasystar.org/
    http://www.algol-star-system.net/index.shtml
    http://www.camineet.net/
    http://www.pscave.com/
    http://www.sega-16.com/Feature-%20Ph...%20History.htm

    Interviews with creators -
    http://www.video-fenky.com/features/kodama/kodama1.html
    http://www.got-next.com/features_read.php?id=73
    http://dreamcast.ign.com/articles/090/090986p1.html

    Your thoughts, additions, etc.?

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    Pear (Level 6) Melf's Avatar
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    Great thread as always Neo!

    We had better get the trilogy. I loved PS Collection on the Saturn, with all its extras and such, but playing IV in Japanese was too much of a chore.

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    Alex (Level 15) maxlords's Avatar
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    Damn NeoZeed! You're making me wish I was a woman so I could give you a big ass kiss! That's one kick ass history! Thanks!
    scooterb: "I once shot a man in Catan, just to watch him die."

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    Peach (Level 3)
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    Very nice man, well written.

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    Holy crap man! That must have taken some serious time to research and type up, not to mention all the pictures.

    Nice job!

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    Cherry (Level 1) Amy Rose's Avatar
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    Ohhhhh Phantasy Star Universe! It looks SO pretty!

    That's it, if we get screwed over on this game, I am definitely getting an all region PS2. I don't care HOW much it costs.

    *shakes fist*

    That was a great history session too. I had no idea some of those games existed

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    Great Puma (Level 12) NE146's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Universe of Phantasy Star

    Quote Originally Posted by NeoZeedeater
    Your thoughts, additions, etc.?
    Thoughts? Only thing I can speak of is my own experience. Phantasy Star on the SMS was my first console RPG I ever played (based upon a glowing review in an early issue of EGM). And from that point I was hooked. After I completed it I went and snagged every other rpg on the SMS, and any that later trickled out for the NES. All fell short of the majesty of Phantasy Star... well, maybe with the exception of FFI (who's only downfall was the relatively static, barren looking sideview battles)

    However to me, it went downhill after that. I was so excited about PSII and waited eagerly for months for it to come out.. when it did, as I played it I kept waiting for the first 3D dungeon to show up.. About halfway through I realized it probably never would. To me, that was one of the defining aspects of Phantasy Star that distinguished it from the rest of the pack. Still though, it was a good game. I played through it twice or more.. but there was still that lingering dissapointment. I figured the 3D could've been taken up a notch on the Genny.

    PSIII came out later. I bought it excitedly.. No 3D Dungeons. Oh well. I played through every single pairing of the characters and of course found: there pretty much is little difference in the branches. That was it. I had burned out on Phantasy Star. I hear PSIV is supposedly good though. :P Later, by the time Final Fantasy VII came out and was horrible polygons.. I had burned out on RPG's totally and haven't played one since.

    Call it nostalgia.. but Phantasy Star is still #1 in my book

    ..oh and nice write up by the way. I really enjoyed it

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    Key (Level 9) chrisbid's Avatar
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    the mega drive version of Phantasy Star had enhanced sound. this is the version that appears on Phantasy Star Collection on the Saturn.

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    Peach (Level 3)
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    Default Phantasy star 1

    Wow

    I lived through all of that but had forgotten most of the details.

    Phantasy Star 1 was $79.99 when it first came out. That was such an unheard of price that people were skeptical about buying it and only gamers that read magazines were buying it. The price dropped a bit in 3 months and I drove an hour to a store that had a 25% off any one game sale.

    $57

    To this day that is still the most I have ever paid for any video game.

    VJ

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    Peach (Level 3) NeoZeedeater's Avatar
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    Thanks guys.

    Quote Originally Posted by chrisbid
    the mega drive version of Phantasy Star had enhanced sound. this is the version that appears on Phantasy Star Collection on the Saturn.
    Interesting, I'm guessing this sounds closer to the Mark III FM Module sound than the regular sound. I looked for a rom to check it out but I can't find one.

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    Another great article!!
    My Gaming Collection (Now at Google Drive!)

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    Alex (Level 15) maxlords's Avatar
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    Default Re: Phantasy star 1

    Quote Originally Posted by vulcanjedi
    Phantasy Star 1 was $79.99 when it first came out. That was such an unheard of price that people were skeptical about buying it and only gamers that read magazines were buying it. The price dropped a bit in 3 months and I drove an hour to a store that had a 25% off any one game sale.

    $57

    To this day that is still the most I have ever paid for any video game.

    VJ

    When Phantasy Star IV came out....it was a whopping $100.00! And no...not just in Canada...that's what it cost everywhere in the US.... $100 US! And I bought it anyway....
    scooterb: "I once shot a man in Catan, just to watch him die."

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    Is Phantasy Star: Gaiden in English? That's what your picture seems to present...I may track that down if that's the case.

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    Did Sega ever mention a reason why PSIV was so much??
    My Gaming Collection (Now at Google Drive!)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaine23
    Did Sega ever mention a reason why PSIV was so much??
    My guess is that it was 40 megs + a battery, which was phenomenally huge for that era. For some reason batteries really drove the prices of the games up, and whenever anyone could, they'd utilize a password system to keep the prices low.

    Incidentally, I bought my copy of Phantasy Star for the SMS in 1990 for $10 on clearance. I had no clue it was that expensive on release, as this was my experience with it.

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    Awesome thread, really enjoyed reading it.

    "I was addicted to the game for a few months(until the cheaters ruined it)."

    Damn, aint that the sad truth. *shakes fist at online cheaters*
    Currently Playing: Limbo, CoD: MW2
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    Peach (Level 3)
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    Default Phantasy Star 1

    Hmm

    I bought the GBA Phantasy Star Collection and spent 3 months happily beating Phantasy Star 1 all over again. 15 years after beatint the original.

    But just like the very first time playing Phantasy Star 2 I am about 30 hours into the game and have stopped playing.

    Back in 1989 when I got Phantasy Star II for xmas I gave my Mother the hint book to hold until Easter. After getting the hint book back and getting a little bit farther I seemed to stop for about 6 months. Now I am wondering why.

    Is there like a wall you hit halfway through? Is it going to take me another 6 months before I pick it up again?



    VJ

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    Bell (Level 8) GaijinPunch's Avatar
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    Great thread. Ah, the memories. To pile on a bit here...

    Don't forget that PSO Episode IV is currently playable in Phantasy Star Online: Blue Burst. The game features server-side saves which keeps cheating to a minimum. Currently available on the PC in Japan only, but supposedly a US release coming soon. (I need to start playing again).

    There were three Phantasy Star books released in Japan. The most common one is the one that's referred to in English as The Phantasy Star Compendium. It is the most well known, but is damn pricey. The next book is the Phantasy Star Memorial and Drama CD which features not only information on all four of the games, but also a Drama CD, which is useelss unless you have a decent command of the Japanese langauge. The book, however, is nicer than the Compendium if you ask me. Finally, is the elusive Phantasy Star Collection. I've only seen this one time, so I lifted it. A fantastic book with some illustrations not found anywhere else (two viewable in the link). If you can find this book, you're a lucky bastard, like me. The only other thing I've seen rarer (and I'm punching myself for not taking pictures) was some original Phantasy Star character designs by Rieko Kodama. When I mean original, meaning her sketches -- not prints. They were in a display case (well-locked) at the TGS2003 to promote the Sega Ages 2500 remake. They were cool ass shit!

    Other cool stuff:
    Phantasy Star: End of the Millenium Flyer
    Phantasy Star Online Network Trial Edition
    Phantasy Star Online Video Demo GD-Rom
    gamengai
    Best import site on the net.
    My for sale list

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    Default Re: Phantasy Star 1

    Quote Originally Posted by vulcanjedi
    Hmm

    I bought the GBA Phantasy Star Collection and spent 3 months happily beating Phantasy Star 1 all over again. 15 years after beatint the original.

    But just like the very first time playing Phantasy Star 2 I am about 30 hours into the game and have stopped playing.

    Back in 1989 when I got Phantasy Star II for xmas I gave my Mother the hint book to hold until Easter. After getting the hint book back and getting a little bit farther I seemed to stop for about 6 months. Now I am wondering why.

    Is there like a wall you hit halfway through? Is it going to take me another 6 months before I pick it up again?



    VJ
    I did the same thing. I played all the way through PS1 last year. I beat it over the summer (didn't have time to play it much) and I started playing 2. Got a few hours into it and school started. I haven't had a chance to touch it since, and when I did I have time, I wanted to play other games. The game is just such a stinking hassle! Every little stupid thing you want to do will take you at least an hour, and you just get SICK of it at some point. You don't want to go into any dungeon without the best possible equipment or you'll get thrashed, so saving all that money artificailly extends your game time.

    It's not a bad game, and living up to the challenge can be pretty fun as long as you're zen with the fact that you'll probably get frustrated along the way. Then you just laugh at it.

    Oh, and When I had the Genny cart back in 1990, I found the game (especially the dungeons) unplayable without the hint book. I don't know how you got anywhere without it.

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    Astounding as always Mr. Neo
    These cartridges are dirty as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!

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