Recently, I decided to go back into “Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection” on my XBox 360 to check out more of the games it has. This single disk consists of over 40 games for the Sega Genesis, a console I’ve never had. (I strangely have more games for the Genesis than the consoles I really do physically own.) This is a rather overwhelming number, so I had yet to try out all of them. I had saved “Phantasy Star II”, “III”, and “IV” (I still haven’t unlocked the first one) because, being RPG’s, I assumed they’d be rather long. Finally, I decided to give them a try.
I started with “PSII”, and I was immediately confused. I had no idea what to do. None. And they made a hassle out of everything. Go here to heal. Go here to bring a character back to life. Shouldn’t healing wounds and resurrection be located in one easy, convenient spot? I found you can buy a weapon for a character, but they may not use it. Stupid Nei was largely useless, as she never fought in battle. So I bought her a dagger, and she wouldn’t take it. So I wandered aimlessly around the world map, wondering what in the universe I was supposed to be doing, getting attacked by a bunch of giant bugs and frogs while the main character (Rolf, I think?) randomly attacked enemies with little input from me (you tell him to attack, but you don’t choose what to attack, and then he takes several turns attacking random enemies, while you watch and shake your head in disapproval). And Nei. Well, she stood there. After being killed by a mosquito (and not even because of contracting West Nile virus) yet again as I continued my aimless search for apparently nothing whatsoever, I gave up and went to “PSIII”.
This game looked a little nicer. But, other than that, it was little different. I still had no idea where to go. I continued to wander the world, oh, a forlorn figure I was, getting beaten up by baby chickens of all things. This time, my character didn’t even get a useless companion to follow him about, and the battle system was very confusing. Now I didn’t even know how to select any options but attack. Once again, I gave up.
Then, I started “PSIV”. I liked this. Something was actually happening. Right from the start. People actually gave me clear indication of what I was supposed to do. Both of my characters (nay, minutes later, I received a third member to my party) actually fought enemies. Imagine that. They actually attacked things instead of standing there! And I had more control over them, too! You’d choose a move for each character, they’d do what you said to the enemy you specified, then, you chose again. Alas, a game that made sense! To make things even better, my characters even walked much faster than the slowpokes in the previous games. Watch them zoom about! And now, as it should be, taking a nap not only healed wounds but brought the dead back to life! All is right in the world again!
I did not give up on this game. No, I did not. This one was a lot of fun. I actually understood it. There was even an actual story that I was aware of. Look, I can even summarize it. This game starts out with two hunters named Alys and Chaz who are investigating an issue at this academy. They are joined by the scholar Hahn (who was a total weakling, but at least he put forth some effort into vanquishing enemies, unlike some people I know…), who helps them defeat the monsters in the academy’s basement. They then head out to investigate more problems, and as our heroes travel the planet of Motavia, they find all manner of strange things going on, including earthquakes in one village and large areas of quicksand overtaking parts of the desert (I suppose sand in the desert is a problem). And not only that, but an evil man named Zio has been causing problems, too, as he has done such things as destroying a whole village and turning everyone to stone in another. As they journey to stop these problems, they meet many new characters, and they find their quest is bigger still. Eventually, our characters even travel into space and take on a villain much worse than Zio, one that threatens the galaxy.
The battle system in this game is fun. It is turn-based, and you get to fight with up to five characters at once (rather than three like in “Final Fantasy”). Everyone chooses from various actions, including attacking or using skills or techniques, and then they all do their thing. And repeat. As I said, the fighting in this game is a lot better than in the previous ones. One problem, though, is all characters attack one after the other after you make decisions for each of them, and you don’t always know what order your characters will attack in, so it makes planning ahead a little difficult. I often had one character heal someone that was dead before someone else brought that character back to life. Well, that was a waste.
Another thing that I don’t like in this game is the names of skills and such often make no sense. It is quite hard to figure out what they do and fight as effectively because I just can’t remember what each one is for. I get some of them. Res is for restore. Rever is revive. Deban is to raise defense. But, guess what sar is for. Or saner. Or githu. Can’t, can you? They should have either given you a description of what these moves do or make them sound more like what they do. I was quite baffled. Sar heals everyone on your party. Would you have guessed that? I can’t tell you what the others do. Because I don’t know.
But, those are small complaints and mainly the only problems I had with the game. It was still very fun, and another thing about this game that is my cup of milk is that it has a lot of characters. Characters change quite a bit throughout the game, and you never have more than five at once, and it’s fun getting to use such a variety of characters. They each have different sets of moves and different weapons. There are also android characters, which can’t be healed in the normal means, but they automatically restore health when you walk around or come back to life once a battle is over if they die. Pretty swell. And like I said, there were a lot of characters. If I counted right, there are 11 in total, I believe (most of which wear capes, I noticed). (“Final Fantasy” usually has about six characters.) Of course, it can be annoying when you get used to a character, only to lose them. Raja could restore a character’s magic, which was awesome, and I wasn’t able to find anyone else who could (perhaps they could, but the moves were too vague). I was annoyed when he left my team. Come back, strange green man with a dorky sense of humor! Come baaaack!
Anyway, there’s not tons more to say about the game. It was just fun, and I enjoyed traveling around and fighting enemies and meeting lots of new characters. It didn’t have the most complex story or characters in the world, but the story was interesting, and I did like most of the characters. (Rika’s my favorite.) It was also fun playing such an old RPG. It is the oldest RPG I’ve ever played through, I believe, (unless “Illusion of Gaia” for the Super Nintendo counts, but I’m unsure). I certainly liked it more than “Phantasy Star II” and “III”. They may be fine games, but I didn’t get into them like I did with this one. And this game made the “Genesis Collection” even more worth it.
Four Phantasy Ducks