(Wii Virtual Console / Mega Drive)

Phantasy Star II (Wii Virtual Console / Mega Drive)

Game Review

Phantasy Star II Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Damien McFerran

Hailed as one of the greatest games of all time by fans and media alike, Phantasy Star II is an RPG that features an epic storyline and turn-based battles.

The original Phantasy Star never really had the impact it deserved, mainly thanks to the fact that its host platform - the Sega Master System – failed to sell in significant numbers in the US. The series would have to wait until the introduction of the Genesis/Megadrive before it would gain any kind of recognition or respect Stateside.

Phantasy Star II was one of the earliest Genesis releases and, along with Sword of Vermillion, represented one of the first RPGs for Sega’s 16-bit console. Of the two it’s arguably the most imposing release, promising nearly 40 hours of gameplay. The grandiose nature of the game was further cemented by the fact that it came with battery back up (quite an event back then), a massive guidebook and cost around $20-$30 more than your average Genesis release.

This is your typical turn-based RPG epic; you walk from town to town interacting with various characters, picking up clues and items along the way. After trolling the hostile countryside you eventually come across a dungeon. Following many turn-based combat situations you meet up with the boss; defeat him and it’s time to hit the road again until you find the next town. This process repeats many times and will be familiar to most hardened fans of the genre.

RPGs of this nature succeed or fail on their combat engines; because battles are random and come without warning the combat itself has to be fairly interesting or the player’s attention span is going to be rapidly reduced. Phantasy Star 2’s system isn’t the best we’ve seen but it’s certainly not the worst. There’s still the gloriously random nature of other games of this type (with many seemingly sure-fire attacks inexplicably failing to connect for no reason other than to keep you on your toes), but on the whole combat is pretty satisfying and your characters (you control up to four at a time) showcase myriad impressive fighting techniques and spells.

Graphically, Phantasy Star 2 looks very much like an early Genesis release. Although the visuals are certainly a step up from the Master System original, things still tend to look a little bland in places. Of course the game is elevated slightly thanks to the wonderful futuristic setting (something that the series is famous for) but it should come as no surprise that the sequels (especially the superlative fourth title) look much better than this. The same can be said for the aural experience, although there are some neat little tunes that stick in your head. The sound effects are weak, however.

The biggest issue with Phantasy Star 2 is its ambiguity. Many of the items in the game feature no explanation and its often not obvious what effect a certain weapon or piece of armour will have on your characters. As you might expect from an RPG that is nearly 20 years old, many of the refinements we’ve seen in recent genre classics are missing, which shouldn’t bother those of you that experienced the game the first time around, but it will undoubtedly frustrate newcomers weaned on newer RPG games.

Conclusion

There’s no denying that Phantasy Star 2 is a title worthy of your time and effort. Very few RPG franchises feel and play in the same way that Sega’s epic series does and, although it has a few irksome shortcomings, it’s unrealistic to expect a game of this age to contain RPG features that have only appeared in recent titles. If you’re a fan of the genre and have a 40 hour hole in your spare time, then this should fit the bill quite nicely.

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User Comments (7)

MrPinguy

#2

MrPinguy said:

This is a great RPG and one of my favorites, but of course have it's flaws so 7/10 is a not-so-bad score ;P

Cally

#3

Cally said:

Meh.

It's dated in some ways, but some of the story elements are amazing and unique. It's still just about the best pure sci-fi RPG in my mind (meaning, really sci-fi, no fantasy elements). It's also very nearly my favorite Genesis game. It really should not be missed by any half-way serious RPG fan.

9/10

SergeOfArniVillage

#4

SergeOfArniVillage said:

This is a really great game: it's style is undeniable. I remember being constantly shocked when I played this game: there wasn't a whole lot of dialouge, but many scenes, even the short scenes, are unforgettable. The game is constantly challenging, and that suits the atmosphere well. The music is the only weak thing about it, it's just throwaway stuff. Anyway, it's definitely worth picking up, for some old-school punishment! :)

Falk_Sturmfels

#5

Falk_Sturmfels said:

I just beated part one on my SMS. After a while i gonna start this. Hope is as good as the first one.

FantasiaWHT

#6

FantasiaWHT said:

This game is a perfect example of how to tell a brilliant story in a minimalist way. On top of that, it has some of the most devilishly challenging dungeons in any RPG ever. It was my first RPG and still in my top 3 years and years and years later. 9.5/10

ueI

#7

ueI said:

This game is worse than the first Phantasy Star in almost every way.

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