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Old 12-16-2005, 08:28 PM   #920
Joe Redifer
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Denver, Colorado
Posts: 20,143
Phantasy Star IV - The End of the Millenium
Sega Genesis

When this game came out, I decided not to buy it because it
came in a crappy paper box. I have since remedied that situation.
But Sega was so damn cheap that I'm surprised the
cartridge itself isn't made out of paper.

Phantasy Star IV is, simply put, quite possibly the best RPG I've ever played. It's right up there with the original Phantasy Star. In fact this game (made by the same team who did Phantasy Star III, surprisingly) really goes back to the Phantasy Star roots. On its own this game would amaze most players, but for gamers like me who played through the original Phantasy Star when it was released, it holds probably twice as much value. Sure you can play the old game on an emulator or whatever to fill in the story gaps, but it just won't hold the same nostalgic value, and you'll probably hate Phantasy Star 1 because it doesn't look like Halo. God I hate people.

Looks like Dark Force is at it again! The bastard doesn't know when
to give up, as you'll definitely discover while playing this game.

Story 10/10
The story begins at the beginning of the game. It starts after you press the start button. And I think that is pretty awesome. A button dedicated to starting the game. That rocks! Anyway you are a hunter named Charles Ashley (Chaz for short) who works for the guild, you've been in training and you've finally been made a full-fledged hunter. Your mentor is Alys and your first task is to investigate the basement in some ivy-league school. Of course this leads to much bigger and better things. The story spans most of the Algol star system and explains its history and more. There are countless references to Phantasy Star 1 here, many references to Phantasy Star 2, and even a quick explanation of what the hell Phantasy Star 3 is doing in the series. Nice. It is great seeing so many old faces from the past games, even though some of the names haven't been translated accurately (Lashiec?). And this is truly the last game in the series. Phantasy Star Online doesn't count. It has nothing to do with anything.

Motovia is Motavia again! The planets were only known as
Mota and Dezo in Phantasy Star 2. The second game is goofy.

Graphics: 8/10
The graphics are pretty lush, and there is a lot of animation for everything in the game. Fortunately they took out the omnipresent pipe ceilings of the Phantasy Star 2 dungeons so you can see what you are doing now. I really like how when you go up a level, you can see the lower level that you were just on scrolling beneath you. Many enemies merge onscreen to become a newer, larger and tougher enemy. The spell effects all look great and can be combined with other players spells for something even more flashy! Everything looks clean and crisp, and there is a ton of text in this game due to its 24 meg size. I just can't help but wonder what the 3D dungeons would have looked like in motion. But there are a ton of different battle backgrounds as opposed the the super-mega-boring blue grid used for EVERY battle in Phantasy Star 2. This is how the second game should have looked!

Alis wants to help you! She shows you
memories of the only great RPG ever to
exist on an 8-bit platform!

Sound: 8/10
Great music in this game with some cool stereo effects. That means that the speaker on your left and the speaker on your right can be playing two different sounds simultaneously which requires space age technology. There are some sampled sounds here and there, and everything is pretty clean and fun to listen to. There are even musical arrangements of a few themes from Phantasy Star 1 and even Fantasy Zone. One of my favorite tunes is the one called "Laughter". Another is the Land Rover tune. Excellent. The composers from Phantasy Star 3 returned for this game, and Tokuhiko Uwabo gets a special thanks for his great melodies from the original game. I can't say I'm disappointed in any way with the sound and music.

The musk cats make an appearance as well. Worthy gamers will
remember Myau from the first game as a musk cat. All of the little
ones running around are the same sprite from the first game!

Gameplay: 10/10
Like I said, this is one of the best RPGs ever. It has memorable characters and a great control system. It is mostly typical of a normal RPG... walk around, gain experience, buy things, talk to people, raid their homes, gain more experience, complete a new mission, etc. But what really helps out here and I mean REALLY helps out are the macros. Basically there are a bunch of slots where you can assign what your character does in battle and which order they attack in. For instance if I want Chaz to attack with Crosscut, then Rune to attack with Effis (automatically combining into a much meaner attack) while Rika heals and Wren launches a special skill, I can assign it to that macro. All I have to do is select that macro (or any other I've created) in battle and it's as easy as that. You can do things manually as well. Your characters also have special skills with a limitation of how many times you can use them (before resting) in addition to the normal magic (or TP). This adds quite a bit to the game as well, as these skills can be combined into powers that, ummm... I can't think of anything funny. Thankfully the designers were huge fans of Phantasy Star 1 and gave us the Land Rover, the Ice Digger, and the Hydrofoil to roam around with again. The dungeons aren't too tough to map or figure out, and I really like that. The exception is one near the end which is a bit crazy. And right after that is a dungeon that is laid out the same way as Phantasy Star 1 since it is the same exact dungeon from that game, but from an overhead perspective instead. Another thing I am truly grateful for is the ability to save anywhere (except dungeons). Only being able to save at inns, checkpoints or whatever is the mark of a poorly designed RPG. This game is thoroughly addictive and I have spent almost the entire last week doing nothing but playing it. A true classic in every way. I am sad that it is over, though.

This old magazine scan shows how much homage the creators give
to Phantasy Star 1. They were going to incorporate 3D dungeons just
like the first game, but decided to go with overhead ones instead.

Wrap up
They don't get any better than this. The Phantasy Star series is the best RPG series ever. Better than Final Fantasy. Better than Lunar (which was only slightly above mediocre in my opinion). Better than Rad Racer. Better than Dragon Warrior/Quest. You can't go wrong with the Phantasy Star Trilogy (1, 2, and 4).

To read my review of Phantasy Star click HERE.
To read my review of Phantasy Star 2 click HERE.
To read my review of Phantasy Star 3 click HERE.
To read my review of Phantasy Star 4, copy this post letter for letter with pen and paper. You must draw all of the screenshots as well.

Last edited by Joe Redifer; 12-29-2005 at 03:02 AM.
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