A playthrough of Sega's 1990 role-playing game for the Sega Genesis, Phantasy Star II.
This video is the first part of a two-part playthrough. The second part, beginning with the party's arrival on Dezo, can be found at (https://youtu.be/8nZj6AJDxqw ).
Phantasy Star II was the highly anticipated 16-bit follow-up to Sega's 1987 Phantasy Star (https://youtu.be/BHez3iJePI4 ), which is largely considered one of the best games ever made for the Sega Master System.
The game opens with Rolf, our hero this time around, waking up in the middle of the night after having a dream about Alis's battle with Lassic 1,000 years ago.
Rolf is an agent of the government of Mota (Motavia), one of the planets in the Algol star system. Mother Brain, the ancient automated computer system that regulates all of Motavia's life support systems, has recently started acting up, and mutants have started to appear in the wild. Rolf is ordered to find out why this is happening, and so he sets out with his friend Nei, a genetically engineered monster/human hybrid.
The game initially feels like a 16-bit retread of the first Phantasy Star, but the plot soon reveals itself to be something much larger and more progressive, and it's more mature in its telling this time around. It reminds me in many ways of Final Fantasy II (https://youtu.be/pdEd3Z5TQYY ) in how cinematic it can be during key moments. The story drops a few bombshells on you throughout, not the least of which being the tragic turn of events that happens about halfway through the game.
Eat your heart out, Celes. (6:46:46, for those that wish to skip straight to it.)
The gameplay itself feels typical of a JRPG of the late 80s. You explore the overworld(s) from a top-down perspective searching out dungeons and towns, and you'll frequently run into random encounters with monsters that'll provide money and experience when beaten down.
The dungeons mark a shift from the original Phantasy Star in how they're no longer presented as first-person mazes. This, along with several other design choices, apparently stemmed from the limited cartridge size and the game's unusually short development cycle. Once the initial planning was complete, the development team had less than three months left to build the game. Of course, the original Phantasy Star only took the team four months to make, so it's no surprise that this one turned out well, too. I guess doing everything possible to burn himself out was a reliable way for Yuji Naka to get results.
These dungeons are huge mazes - far more complicated than most that you'd find in the original game - so it's a good thing that the manual doubled as a strategy guide that provided maps for every area. The areas are fun to dig through, but be warned: without the manual, they feel as overwrought as they do tedious. The gratuitous use of a parallaxed foreground layer doesn't help much either: it is both distracting and frustrating in how it obscures your view of your surroundings.
The battle system's streamlined interface does wonders for the flow of things when you're grinding out experience points, but it's also a complete nuisance when you want to do anything besides attack. There are way too many button presses required to do simple things like casting a spell or using an item, and personally, I always found that the interface was too inconvenient to bother experimenting with character abilities outside of the big boss fights. It works, but it is a telling sign of the game's age. The animation during battles is still great as always, though, and I am a big fan of that backdrop with the blue grid.
The dungeon and battle design make Phantasy Star II my least favorite of the four titles in the original series, but regardless, it is a game that I regard fondly. The sci-fi theme still sets it apart thirty years later, and the story and the primary characters are unforgettable. As clunky as I find the "game" to be in 2021, the "experience" is still some top-tier stuff on the Genesis.
And if you finish Phantasy Star before playing the sequel, the ending of this one provides one helluva payoff. If ever a game deserved a slow clap, it would be Phantasy Star II when it finally reveals its big secret.
No cheats were used during the recording of this video.
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