Proving that Final Fantasy Is Not The King RPGS
Phantasy Star IV, was always one of my favorite games. Yet my original review for it kinda sucked. Furthermore I noticed a certain review for the game has been changed for the worse. Who changes their views seemingly at the drop of a hat?
After many delays PSIV was finally released in 1994. It was hailed as the “finale” of the Phantasy Star series. The game also cost an unbelievable $100! Was the hefty price tag worth it? Hell yes!
In Phantasy Star IV, we return to the Algol Solar System. 1000 years have passed, since Rolf and company destroyed the Mother Brain. This necessary event sent the Algol system into a decline. Now things are finally returning to normal. Yet an ancient terror lurks in the darkness, soon it will be reborn and unleash its terrible vengeance on the worlds of Algol!
This is were you come in. Players are thrust into the role of Chaz Ashley. An apprentice hunter, learning from the best Alys Brangwin, famed across Motavia, for her skill dispatching deadly bio-monsters. A routine mission to dispatch some of the creatures leads Chaz on a quest that will bring him face to face with Dark Force in all it’s dark glory.
This may not sound terribly original today, but keep in mind that Phantasy Star introduced the now common “dark god” hell bent on death and destruction. Furthermore the Phantasy Star series has always managed to pull this type of plot of effectively. And the story is well-presented and easy to follow, and enjoy, and in the end is that not what RPGS are designed to do? The plot never seems trite unlike in certain Final Fantasy games.
The game has plot twists, and many villlains including the enigmatic Zio and the return of Lashiec. And the boss fights are huge and great fun.
My opponent claims that there are is no conflict. Yet I remember a very interesting scene, in which the main character questions his role, and makes the point that if he blindly follows the will of the Great Light how is he any different that Zio or Lashiec. If that is not conflict what is?
There is also a tragic event in the game. Which my opponent claims is the same as the tragic event in Phantasy Star II. Yet they could not be MORE different
Along the way Chaz will meet eight others that will join in his quest. All the characters are unique and have different backgrounds. Sega even took the trouble to make each character has a unique way of speaking. While saying the same thing they all say it a different way. For example if you examine and area and there is nothing to see Wren will say"There are no anomolies ahead." While Rika will say, "This is boring!" It is this kind of attention to detail that always made the Phantasy Star series miles better than the overrated Final Fantasy series.(Admit it fanboys there are only like 2 good Final Fantasy games. And 2 out of 12 is a terrible track record.)
Battle monsters and explore towns and dungeons as the story gradually unfolds with manga-style cut scenes. That are just as cool today as they were ten years ago. My opponent claims that there is little originality in this game yet, if it were not for these ground breaking cutscenes, the modern RPG would not be the same...interesting.
The battles are most reminiscent of PSII. With much improved visuals. As with all the visuals. Five instead of four party members in your party is also a welcome addition. During battles the usual choices are available, weapons, techniques (Magic is PSIV) and running from battle. As well as new skills. Skills work like techniques except, they cost no TP, instead each one can be used a certain amount of times. For fighter types like Chaz skills will play a more crucial role in defeating “boss” monsters.
Battle speed is much better than in previous installments. And in RPGS in general. The battles are never drawn out, as the sometimes were in PSII and PSIII. And almost always are in Final Fantasy. You even increase or decrease the speed.
Techniques and skills can even be combined to create more powerful combo attacks.(For example Rayblade + Astral= Paladin Blow a very power and very cool looking attack. Some are very hard to discover and will take quite a bit of experimenting particularly the 'Destruction' combo. These are among some of the most powerful and awesome to watch executed. So finding them will be well worth your time. My opponent claims that there are only spells and standard attacks. And does not mention the original skills like Crosscut. Most likely to strengthen his argument that the game is unoriginal. (Yet he defends FFV which is a step back for the series. With it's non-existent plot and bland characters. And simply moronic class system.)
The music in PSIV is excellent. Up to par and usually better than any other RPGS of all time. What makes it so good is how unique it is. There are no pretentious “classical” themes. The music tends to be much more techno inspired. Some of the tunes in particular stand out. “Ooze” the song played when fighting the end boss, is quite possibly the greatest song ever composed for a video game. The music does not lack variety. Both the composers from PS1&2 as well as from PS3 lend their talents for this one. Their different styles lend to a well-rounded soundtrack.
The graphics in Phantasy Star IV are easily the best in the series. The sprites are more well formed than the atypical short and stocky types found in most 2D RPGS. In battle the characters come to life in huge over the shoulder sprites. They charge the enemy and attack, unlike Final Fantasy. And the monsters are large and animated. Nowadays this is common place but remember that the "great" Final Fantasy series did not animate the monsters untill FF7...so suck it fanboys.
There are many little details in this game that Final Fantasy games lack. The towns are chock full of details, from seeing ducks swimming in a pond, to townspeople sweeping up, etc.
Every dungeon is unique. One has you use pedestals to open up new levels. While another you may need a special item to progress. Many are very difficult as well such as Lashiec's castle.
The setting is also quite different. Sure, it is the same worlds, but the tone is different. In Phantasy Star II, most people enjoy there "perfect" world, that on a deeper level is far from perfect. Where as in Phantasy Star IV the world has just recovered from a near collapse, and is much more crude.
And while Phantasy Star II had a great cast, PSIV eclipses it, as the cast is more varied. In PSII only one party member is NOT human. While in PSIV, there are Androids, Motavians, and Dezolians.
Phantasy Star also helped inspire some of my other favorite RPGS like Arc the Lad, Star Ocean, and the Lunar series.
There is NOTHING bad in PSIV. It amazes me that Sega could fit this game on a cartridge. And still have such a good game. Then again it was going to be Sega CD game. It was to be and even bigger game, as many features had to be removed to fit it on to a cart.
It would have been interesting to see what the Sega CD version would have been like.
The Bottom Line
Phantasy Star IV, wraps the series quite nicely. It is the biggest game of the series, with a 24-meg cart! Not only is it best RPG the Genesis, it is one of the, if not the best RPG all time. I have played this game like 20 times over the years and still play it to this day and still enjoy it every time.
The Super Nes may have had MORE RPGS but the Genesis have a few that really shine. Hell this game really shows how inferior Final Fantasy is. Just as Landstalker shows how inferior The Legend Of Zelda is.