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Phantasy Star IV

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Phantasy Star Series Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium :: Reviews
24 Mbit
Feb. 1995
Dec. 8, 1995
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     > Phantasy Star IV is the final game in the Genesis Phantasy Star series. Although it's set in the same universe as the previous games, PSIV has a self-contained story, so you don't need to play the previous games to enjoy it. However, all the games are connected. PSIV answers the unanswered questions left by the previous games (like what is Dark Force?) and ties up some of the loose ends left behind by the previous games as well. Sega took Phantasy Star III in a different direction by making it more medieval but Phantasy Star IV returns to its science fiction roots. Phantasy Star IV takes the best parts of the previous games and merges them into a perfect game with more tried and true gameplay.

     > I consider Phantasy Star IV to be a direct sequel to Phantasy Star II because the graphics and art are similar. In fact, PSIV looks like an improved version of PSII. Comparisons are inevitable. PSIV is a top down 2D role playing game with pseudo-third person random battles and huge mazes. The game has turn-based battles but everything has been refined to make this game fast and extremely user-friendly. PSIV has anime art and tons of cutscenes and dialogue to keep players entertained for many hours. Like in PSII, the characters look like anime characters.

     > If you are new to the series and want to be entertained rather than frustrated then I suggest that you play Phantasy Star IV first. If you are extremely patient and love a challenge then start with PSI-II. The previous games don't have as many cutscenes as PSIV, probably due to graphical limitations and smaller budgets at the time of their creation, and PSIV herds players in the right direction more, which makes it more of a rollercoaster ride, and characters move faster. PSIV sometimes feels more like a movie than a game, but it does contain challenging gameplay if you keep playing to the end.

     > In the future wars will be won and lost with the mere touch of a button, but not in this world. Phantasy Star IV merges science fiction with sword and sorcery but is mostly focused on sci fi. Characters wield swords or guns and use magic against their enemies in a technologically advanced world. It's a rare combination.

     > There's no doubt that PSIV is technically better than the previous games. The question is: is the story better? That's up to you to decide. 

     > PSIV is set 1000 years after the events of PSII. Motavia was once a paradise but was reduced to a desert in an event called The Great Collapse. No one knows how or why it happened (play PSII to find out why). Recently there has been a rise in the number of biomonsters on the planet which are bioengineered creatures created by advanced technology a long time ago. You begin the game playing Alys and Chaz who are two hunters working for the highest bidder on Motavia. Alys is training Chaz with a unique brand of tough love, much to Chaz's annoyance, but the two soon delve into the deeper mystery of where the biomonsters are coming from, and are swept up by events beyond their control.

     > Phantasy Star IV looks like an improved version of Phantasy Star II. Comparisons are inevitable. It looks like a direct sequel to PSII with the same graphics engine but with improved graphics. PSIV is a last generation Genesis game so it looks great for the time. The game really stands out from the crowd. The game has sharp and colorful 2D graphics and the art is still impressive even to this day. Characters have distinctive portraits and show emotions during cutscenes. Characters and enemies are animated well when attacking. This game makes me remember why I'm a Sega fan.

     > Purely from a technical point of view, it's hard not to be impressed with PSIV's graphics. The graphics are great for a 16 bit game. Compare this and Shinobi III to any SNES game. I dare you.

     > Like in PSII, the game switches to a pseudo-third person view when you enter battle. This time, however, the game renders the background of your current location (unlike PSII). The backgrounds blend perfectly with the art of the rest of the game. You can also have characters synchronize attacks to produce even deadlier attacks like joint spells which adds to the fun.

     > Your characters move faster than the previous games. I imagine this was done to shorten intervals between narrative and speed up the game for impatient players. No matter. Otherwise everything is like before. You use menus in battles to plan ahead and customize your characters, but everything is easy to navigate so you don't need to worry about it and you can spend most of your time exploring the game world and watching combat unfold. Battles are fast and have spectacular special effects like lightning bolts and fiery fireballs, but the battles themselves can also be very tactical. Sometimes you need to be good at planning ahead and use items in your inventory that can be bought or found.
     > Like the graphics, the music in PSIV is similar to PSII. PSIV continues the winning tradition. The music consists of synthesized classical instruments and electronic rock. The music strikes me as unique. It's unusually eclectic. Sometimes you will hear synthesized piano melodies and other times you will hear electronic beats. The music is hard to describe. 

     > All you need to know is the music is epic, especially when considering the limitations of the platform. The music perfectly reflects the atmosphere of each location and suits the mood of the moment. Towns are calm and upbeat, and technologically advanced dungeons have fast electronic sounding beats. The quality of the music is consistent. The sound effects are clear and fit the theme of the game and blend in perfectly with the music.

     > Phantasy Star IV builds on the foundation of the previous games and brings the story to its conclusion. PSIV is one of the best 16 Bit RPGs ever made, so if you call yourself an RPG fan then I highly recommend it. This isn't a mere game. This is a piece of gaming history. The graphics are great. The game is colorful, smooth and has great art. You can't ask for much more. 

     > The gameplay is engaging and the story sucks you in like a black hole. The game is filled with dialogue and story revelations which sometimes makes the game feel more like a movie than a game, but it has a good balance of gameplay and narrative which makes for a worthwhile experience. You can also do side quests which gives the game good longevity. 

     > PSIV is much more accessible than the previous games because the game is faster, more linear and has refined the gameplay of the previous games, so it's probably best to play this first unless you are a glutton for punishment and like a challenge. 

     > I prefer PSII more in some respects because there is more exploration. That's a relic of the past in the eyes of many gamers however. People might find that frustrating in this day and age where people want instant gratification above all else. I wish that non-linear games were more popular. Side quests create the illusion of a non-linear world but you are still being herded in the right direction as if you are too stupid to find new locations on your own. Thus PSIV feels more like a rollercoaster ride than a game. Nevertheless, PSIV is great for what it is. It depends on how you define fun. I love exploring the unexplored but the evolution of the series was not lost on me. PSIV is more than a mere game. It's an adventure. 

     > Games should succeed on merit. They shouldn't succeed because the media brainwashes people to buy them. Unfortunately some games aren't very popular no matter how good they are. But don't be discouraged from playing PSIV; it's a great game no matter what anyone tells you.

Bottom Line
     > This is RPG heaven. Phantasy Star IV bridges the gap between hardcore and casual and succeeds in making a challenging game fun. You couldn't ask for much more from a 16 Bit RPG. PSIV is one of the best 16 Bit RPGs ever made and is technically the best Phantasy Star game on the Genesis by far, so it's worth playing at least once. PSIV takes the graphics and art of PSII to the next level. The game has many unique characters that make this a once in a lifetime experience. 

     > RPG fans shouldn't miss this. PSIV deserves to be remembered. The game has a good story that keeps players hooked to their screen from beginning to end. And of course few people even know it exists. Words fail me when people don't remember this game and only remember Final Fantasy. They don't know what they missed.

Overall: 9.4/10 | Graphics: 9.5 | Control: 9.2 | Sound: 9.4 | Fun: 9.4
~ G. Duke ~

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