Warning: For those playing Phantasy Star on the recent Genesis Collection, I am warning you this game (or possibly any game with a built-in save feature) does not actually save unless you exit the game through the select button menu. Don’t learn the hard way like I did.
The days of the much loved single-player Phantasy Star games may be waning, but playing through the original recently brought me right back to those golden years. With Phantasy Star, I found myself constantly glued to the TV, pushing myself through one frustrating but rewarding challenge after another; I have rarely had that patience in the last five years! Up until now, I’ve never cared for any first-person RPG (old or new). I wouldn’t have thought repetitive, sometimes maze-like dungeons, and a laughable translation could still make a great game.
I also thought of myself as someone incapable of loving oldschool RPG’s after shrugging off FFV and VI, though loving the new ones. I realize now I was simply playing a series that was yet to define itself as its own (sorry FFVI fans). Right from FFII, the series ripped off Phantasy Star creating a character based RPG, and many towns, enemies, and backgrounds look shockingly similar to those in Phantasy Star all the way to FFVI. Not until FFVII did the series make the enemies more than static sprites, nine years after Phantasy Star. While this might sound like a hate-on, I did like those FF games, and it’s clear Phantasy Star also took a lot of pages from Dragon Quest. The game also has more of a sci-fi, Star Wars approach rather than the D&D roots in the Final Fantasy series; the former of which I realize I prefer.
You could do worse than ape Star Wars
In hindsight, Phantasy Star did make number 26 in EGM’s “200 Greatest Games of Their Time” (the highest of any RPG) so maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised this game kicked so much ass. It’s not that the story was anything of note, though the game does still look quite good. Balancing was just nailed: regular enemies are always a danger and grinding early in the game is much more rewarding as the scale of experience doesn’t tilt. With three more games to play in the series, I can’t wait to get more of this old school charm I’ve missed out on.
Also, speaking of EGM, I’ve compiled my entire collection: 59 in total and exactly one-fourth of the 236 in print (seen in the low quality pic above). I did this before the news of EGM being resurrected by its founder, Steve Harris. Obviously, EGM will only soldier on in name; it is going to be a completely different magazine than I or even those who were with EGM since ’89. I guess we have had enough good send offs of EGM in blog form… actually, I already did one.
Instead, I am saying that I’m moving on. I can only troll around for good articles on the internet for so long, now I have finally found my substitute, though not replacement, for EGM. That is Game Developer magazine. I haven’t read an actual issue yet, it should be coming in the mail soon, but most of the editors seem to contribute writing to GameSetWatch and Gamesutra (the writing of which as far as I’m concerned is excellent, so I’m not worried). Maybe it was given away by the title of the magazine, but it’s also is heavily focused on giving pro-tips to game developers (what I am aspiring to be). Granted, I will miss the likely exclusion of reviews and general enthusiasm I enjoyed in the Ziff publications. Anyway, here’s to new horizons.