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Phantasy Star II

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Phantasy Star Series Phantasy Star II :: Reviews
G.Duke
Reviewed
02.26.2015
Publisher
Sega
Developer
Sega
Yugi Naka's Team
Format
Cartridge
Origin
Import
Domestic
Available
03.21.1989 
(Japan)
Mar. 1990
(USA)
Exclusive
Yes
Difficulty
Hard
Dimensions
2D
View
Top Down
Tactical
Genre
RPG
Player(s)
1
Options
Battery Backup 
Requires
n/a
Importable
25%
Intro
     > Phantasy Star II is the Genesis sequel to Phantasy Star on the Master System. I never played the original game but I have played all three Genesis games extensively. Phantasy Star II is a top down 2D role playing game with pseudo-3D turn-based random battles. This is the definition of oldschool. PSII is set in a futuristic world and has a science fiction story unlike many traditional RPGs which makes it a unique gaming experience. Phantasy Star II has a large world that you need to explore which means it's not for everyone. In fact, you explore more than one world. You can upgrade your characters along the way. It's very easy to get lost in this game, so be warned.

     > I don't recommend playing Phantasy Star II for the story because there isn't a lot of dialogue. You can read the story online in 5 minutes. Play the game for the complete experience. Play the game for the journey and you will enjoy it more. However, the story is only one facet of the game. The gameplay is where this game truly shines. It depends if you can go back in time to a different era of gaming. The gameplay is great for an oldschool RPG. You might be wondering if it's worth playing such an old RPG. Looks can be deceptive; underneath these ancient graphics lies a true gem.

     > The Phantasy Star Series merges science fiction with sword and sorcery. Imagine knights who wield swords, and hunters who use laser cannons, and wizards who unleash magical energy on their enemies but set in a technologically advanced world. It's a rare combination that merges the best of all worlds. That's what's great about the Phantasy Star Series. I wish it was more popular.

     > You play the role of Rolf who is a government agent on the world of Motavia (his name is changeable). Motavia was once an arid desert but thanks to the help of an extremely advanced artificial intelligence called Mother Brain the planet has been terraformed into a green paradise. People live comfortably under Mother Brain's supervision and enjoy the fruits of a utopian world where everyone can live in peace because war is unnecessary. But not all is what it seems. Biomonsters have been running rampant across the world and it's your mission to find out why. You need to find the biosystems lab where the biomonsters are created and find the source of the problem. Rolf has a female companion named Nei who refuses to let him go alone. Nei is a Numan, which means a human who isn't a human. She was created by blending human and biomonster DNA. She is an outcast in society, shunned by humans, but Rolf loves her like a sister and lets her join him on his mission. And so your journey begins.

     > Let me start by saying that I wouldn't recommend Phantasy Star II and Phantasy Star III to people unless they are fans of the series. Phantasy Star IV is the most accessible to newcomers because the game is more forgiving, more linear, proceeds at a faster pace and has more cutscenes to keep players entertained. Thus PSIV bridges the gap between hardcore and casual. 

     > There's no point owning a hard copy of this when it's easily emulated unless you are a hardcore collector. The same is true for all Genesis games these days.

Graphics
     > The graphics are sharp and colorful for the time. Characters and enemies are animated well and aren't static, and the game runs smoothly. When you enter a battle the game switches to a pseudo-third person view where you see the game from behind your characters, then you see them attack the enemies in front of you. When you enter a battle the game doesn't render the background of where you are fighting. You see wireframes instead as if you are fighting in a virtual reality simulator. This actually adds to the science fiction atmosphere rather than detract from it. But of course, it's not ideal. 

     > Phantasy Star II has unique art with alien looking biomonsters and futuristic robots and great character portraits. The characters look like anime characters. They are colorful like the rest of the game. Whether you like the art or not is a matter of taste, but I've always loved anime, so I like it. Characters are huge when exploring the 
overworld map which makes towns and other locations you find seem small in comparison. This seems to be a Phantasy Star tradition that is carried over into the Genesis sequels.

Control
     > Characters move slowly which might frustrate people. Otherwise the controls are simple and easy to navigate. Most of the game is menu-based but you don't need to use a menu to talk to people. Battles move at a fast pace, so you don't have to worry about battles taking forever.
Sound
     > The music is atmospheric. As it should be. Sega did the best with what they had. The music uses synthesized electronic instruments which fits the theme of the game. Remember, this is a Genesis game which means options were limited, so don't expect an orchestra. The music reflects the sci-fi atmosphere. If you are inside a technologically advanced building then you will hear fast electronic beats, and if you are in a silent location then the music slows down to mirror the atmosphere. The boss music is dramatic and foreboding. The sound effects blend well with the music and reinforce the immersion. Nothing sounds out of place.
Fun
     > This game isn't easy. The game world is huge and has tons of mazes. You will have to explore many locations and memorize corridors to avoid becoming lost while fighting through endless random battles against biomonsters and killer robots. If that's your idea of fun then you will enjoy this. PSII is a well made game for what it is.

     > Many different characters with different skills will join you as you progress through the game, so you can customize your team. Some characters can use different weapons and some characters are better against different enemies which adds to the fun. New allies join you as you progress, so you can change your party members to adapt to different environments. It's not long before you have a full party so don't despair.

     > Phantasy Star II takes me back to a time when all RPGs weren't forced to be linear by mainstream casual gamers, and when more ideas were free to exist because more ideas could be profitable. Hopefully science fiction merged with sword and sorcery doesn't die and can find a home in the future (Star Wars isn't the same thing). Sega are sitting on a potential goldmine.

Bottom Line
     > An epic journey awaits. If you play Phantasy Star II and its sequels with no prior knowledge of them then you will enjoy them more. It's best to avoid spoilers online if you are new to this series and want to experience it properly. The Phantasy Star Series has been a source of inspiration for people for decades. It has inspired tons of fan fiction and turned people into gamers forever. The graphics have aged like old colorful 2D art like old anime and cartoons, which means the graphics are easy on the eyes even today (unlike most old 3D graphics which make my eyes bleed).

     > PSII isn't easy which might frustrate people, so I only recommend it to fans. Casual players should start with Phantasy Star IV in my opinion, as it's much easier to pick up and play, whereas the previous games require a greater commitment. You have been warned. Be that as it may, no true gamer should miss Phantasy Star II. This is why we became gamers in the first place.

Ratings
Overall: 9/10 | Graphics: 9 | Control: 9 | Sound: 9 | Fun: 9
~ G. Duke ~

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