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Old 04-03-2018, 11:58 AM
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Default PROTIP: Don't give your cat to the cat-eating mad-man. Let's Play Phantasy Star!

Hello there everyone!

I apparently don't learn, so after finally finishing an LP after 4 years, I'm diving straight into the next one! And much like the last one, Phantasy Star is a game that is near and dear to my heart. I know that the Sega Master System isn't very popular 'round these parts, but it was my favourite 8-bit console growing up, and no, I'm not British. This is one of my favourite games of all time, and it bums me out that more people haven’t played it. It's usually just a historical footnote mentioned in relation to its "better" sequels. So, with that in mind, let's all sit for a spell, and let me tell you kids about Phantasy Star.


I still remember the first time that I ever saw an RPG. I was at my older cousin Shane's house, in the rural village that my mother grew up in, and he was playing Phantasy Star on the Sega Master System. I had an Atari at that point (a hand-me-down from Shane, in fact), and I had played many games on it, but I was too young to be able to play something as complicated as an RPG with any degree of success. I didn't care, though-- I would watch him play it for hours, entranced, and subsequent family visits would always see me running up to his room and literally dragging him out of bed so that I could make him play, much to his mother’s amusement. Never before had anything, let alone a game, so completely swept me away, immersing me in an imaginary world populated by flying eyes, subterranean cake shops, and talking cats. I would sit in class or on the bus and dream of being in that world, of fighting spiders in the deserts of Motavia or getting lost in the ice caves of Dezoris. I had encountered interactive fantasy (or "Phantasy", as the case maybe) for the first time, and I was never to be the same.

I often credit Shane with making me the man I am today (well, not to his face, but privately), having followed in his footsteps in several ways. He was certainly a formative influence on me, and I did idolize him as a child, but I often wonder if I give him too much credit (or, for that matter, give my other older cousin Ryan, who first exposed me to Dungeons & Dragons, too little). More than any one person ever did, though, video games had a hold on me unlike anything else, and from that moment that I first laid eyes on Phantasy Star, much of my life from then on revolved around them, whether it be reading about them (I credit Nintendo Power with teaching me how to read above my age-level), thinking about them (I was often chastised in class for day-dreaming), or spending every spare moment I could find playing them. Hell, I even enrolled in Computer Science because I wasn't brave enough to move away from home and enroll at Digipen, and I figured that CS was my best chance at maybe one day working with video games that didn't involve moving to the other side of the continent. It often feels like every important life decision that I ever made started with that one video game that took me to the Algol star system, never to fully return to Earth. I didn't have the knowledge or the experience to measure its quality back then, but it didn't hurt that Phantasy Star happened to be an excellent game then, and remains one now.

There's a reason that many cite it as the system's best game. Certainly even most of those who don’t still agree that it's one of the best. My next console after the Atari was an SMS, because of course I had to experience Phantasy Star on my own, but I eventually obtained an NES and played its popular RPGs in subsequent years, and there was just no comparison—it was immediately apparent to me that Phantasy Star was well ahead of its peers and was their superior in every way. Needless to say, I was a bit biased. That said, it is a breathtaking adventure spanning multiple planets that takes place in a giant, awe-inspiring universe of dragons and space-ships that inflamed my imagination
like nothing else. Seriously, just look at this cover:




It’s like crack for a child’s eyes. The Japanese cover is equally rad:




I can't decide which cover I like better. While you’re looking at the covers, note too the dashing female lead at the centre, Alis Landale, a badass lady fighter looking to avenge her brother's death. Even today, the number of JRPGs with a strong female lead is vanishingly small. Oh, and did I mention that the game sounds great too? (More on this later.)

In my opinion, Phantasy Star absolutely still holds up today, although not without some caveats. As was the style at the time, it is willfully obtuse in places, and it is sometimes unclear what to do next. The game assumes that you have read the manual (!!!) and expects you to explore your surroundings and listen carefully to all of the NPCs. Also, the first-person dungeon crawling is absolutely designed with the expectation of graph paper mapping in mind. In fact, when I first got my own copy of the game as a kid, it was just too much for me, and despite my love and the time I invested, my unwillingness/inability to chart my progress on paper (I don’t even think I knew what graph paper was at the time?) doomed me to be forever unable to navigate the hazardous dungeons of the ice planet Dezoris. I wouldn't finally beat Phantasy Star on my own (well, with my then-wife doing the mapping for me >_<) until many years later (miraculously, I still have a working SMS and copy of Phantasy Star in my closet, and last time I had it out the battery on the cartridge used to store saved games was still working fine).

Phantasy Star isn’t my favourite video game (that would be FFIV), but it was my first love, and they say that you never forget your first. I would really encourage everyone to give it a try, and maybe you’ll discover some of the magic that I found there and fall similarly in love with the adventures of Alis and her talking cat. In lieu of that, though, ya'll can live vicariously through me as I revisit it!

In fact, that's enough from me-- let's get this show on the road!
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Old 04-03-2018, 12:04 PM
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So, with the love letter out of the way, it's time to play us some Phantasy Star. I'm excited!

Before that, though, we need to talk about which version I'm playing! Phantasy Star has seen a number of ports and re-releases over the years. First, it and its later sequels were collected in the Phantasy Star Collection, which was released domestically on GBA, and on Saturn and PS2 in Japan. These collections were largely just straight ports, although good ways to experience the game if you'd missed it the first time around!

More notably, it was the very first game to be released in the amazing Sega Ages series, with a full-on remake that, regrettably, has never seen domestic release. It was slated to be released domestically with the remakes of II & IV as Phantasy Star Trilogy, but that too never materialized. I think those vampires at EB still have my $5 pre-order. It has, of course, gotten a fan-translation for die-hard fans to pursue, and it's a pretty nifty remake!

Still, this LP is about sharing my love for the game, and it's the original North American release of the game that I love, warts and all. This means that I also won't be using any of the various balance patches or updated fan translations that are available. In fact, I kind of don't like the "improved" translations! The game just loses a lot of its charm, although admittedly they do help to make it more consistent with the rest of the series.

This fidelity to the NA release also extends to the music, which is a matter of some contention. You see, Phantasy Star's music was made to take advantage of the FM sound chip available in Japan, but the SMS model available to the rest of the world lacked that capability. So there are essentially two versions of every piece of music in Phantasy Star, and the majority of folks prefer the FM sound. Not me, though! I am completely incapable of being objective when it comes to Phantasy Star, and that includes the music that I grew up with. Still, I'll try to link both versions as we go (when available) so ya'll can decide for yourselves!

(Here's an interesting little comparison video for any head-phone users. It pipes the FM audio into the left channel and the NA audio into the right. If you listen to them without headphones, it'll just sound upsetting.)



Speaking of, let's take a listen to our first piece of music, the title screen!


Soundcloud / FM Version

I'll be trying to share three links with each piece of music, two of which have been recorded and uploaded by yours truly. First, a YouTube upload for embedding. Then, a SoundCloud upload, so that folks can set it to loop for the authentic experience as they read along. Finally, a YT link to the FM Version. Regarding the latter: apologies for the background imagery. It figures that the only comprehensive FM OST I could find is accompanied by literally the only lascivious image of Alis I've ever seen.

PRESS START


Soundcloud / FM Version




Space century 342, in the settlement of Camineet on the planet Palma. I will never not love made-up sci-fi dates with arbitrary numbering.



Welcome to cut-scene! Like Ninja Gaiden would do a year later, Phantasy Star tells its major story beats in short little cinematics. I don't know if it was the first game to do this (it probably wasn't), but it was certainly one of the first!




Phantasy Star is no Vandal Hearts when it comes to punctuation, but I certainly seem to have a "type".






We have our first quest hook!




With the introduction out of the way, this is a good time to share this introductory excerpt from the instruction booklet:

Quote:
The time: Space Century 342. The place: the three planet Algol solar system located deep in the Andromeda galaxy.

Under the democratic rule of King Lassic, life was good as he provided everything his people could want. Space Travel had been discovered 200 years before and deep space shuttles had allowed colonization of Motavia and Dezoris, the other worlds of the Algol Star System.

But slowly, over time, things began to change. It started with a new religion which was rumored to have come from another galaxy. The dark priests of this religion, never seen by any mortal, promised immortality to all who joined. You would live forever!

King Lassic was getting old. The idea of living forever appealed to him so he became the first to join. Then, he... changed. It started with the threatening suit of armor the priests made him. The armor looked evil and corrupt, and that's how Lassic began to rule his people. Outrageous taxes became a burden on everyone. Business on all three planets shut down and entire towns fell into decay. There was no way for the people to make any money.

As time passed and the people suffered, horrible creatures and monsters began to stalk all three worlds. When the dead came back to life, the people feared the worst and guessed the truth. Trough black magic, Lassic had become an evil tyrant.

But where there is evil there is always good. Brave individuals began to rally in secret against Lassic. But his Robotcops were ruthless in hunting out these defenders of the people. One was Nero, a spaceport worker in Camineet, the central town on Palma. Long ago, his father had disappeared trying to learn Lassic's evil secrets. Now, the Robotcops had crushed Nero as well. Before he died, he passed on his short sword and his quest to his sister, Alis. He also told her to find a brave fighter named Odin.

Alis raised the sword to the sky and vowed that Nero's death would not go unavenged!
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Old 04-03-2018, 12:05 PM
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I expect scans of your hand drawn maps.
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Old 04-03-2018, 12:07 PM
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And just like that, we're dumped into the game proper. And that means Town music!


Soundcloud / FM Version

First, let's get a look at the menu screen!



Well, the first thing you'll notice is that we get a neat first-person backdrop of whatever area we're currently in. There are five menu options, and a status box for Alis on the bottom.



The instruction booklet provides cute little pictures and descriptions of every items and piece of equipment in the game, so I'll be sharing those as we encounter them:






We don't have any magic spells at the moment, but that "yet" certainly implies some things!



MST is short for "Mesetas", the game's currency. So we're itemless and penniless. Where's the King from Dragon Quest when you need him?



We can search any square in the game by entering the menu and selecting this command. It is a slow, cumbersome process, so it's not something that we'll want to do very often, and fortunately we won't have to! Just note this as an option in our puzzle-solving toolbox.



Phantasy Star allows you to save anywhere, so be careful not to save yourself into a corner! There are five save slots, though, so you'd have to work at it to screw yourself.



Talking Time tradition would suggest putting this to a vote, but we'll never see this name again, so I'll just go with the obvious:



With the menu screen taken care of, it's time to start exploring the town!



Let's start with the house that we're standing in front of!

(I love the cute little future dome houses in this game.)



It's our house! I guess Alis isn't much of a decorator.



This fellow is just to the left of where we started, so let's say hello!

Um, hello?



Excuse me?



Well this is getting... intimate.



Oh, Hi! So yeah, the way that you initiate conversation in Phantasy Star is getting right up in folks' grills. Standing next to them and pressing the button will accomplish precisely nothing.

For our trouble, we've picked up an important tip: some dungeons are dark, and we'll want to be prepared with a light source.





To remind everyone, Camineet is where we are now, so this spaceport must be to our west.
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Old 04-03-2018, 12:11 PM
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There's a few other folks to talk to, so here's what the rest of the townsfolk standing around outside have to say:
  • "If you want to make a deal, you should head for the port town."
  • "You need a dungeon key to open locked doors."
  • "The Camineet residential area is under martial law."
Martial law, you say? That probably explains all of the scary-looking stormtroopers. Let's see what they have to say.






Charming fellow. Most of the other soldiers in town same something similar.

Can we just stop for a second to talk about how amazing this game looks. I mean, just look at that screenshot. I played Phantasy Star before either Dragon Warrior or Final Fantasy, and I just couldn't understand why the other kids liked those games better (the answer, I decided: they didn't own an SMS). Someone recently said to me that the original Phantasy Star seems like it fell out of a time-hole from the future, and I kind of can't disagree with them. It just seems light-years ahead of its time in a lot of ways, but I think visually is where this is most pronounced. In some ways it even looks better than its Genesis sequel. It is a joy to behold.



Ooo, what's this? Some kind of tube? Let's investigate!







Well, since we don't have "ROADPASS", let's start checking the residential buildings around town.



"There are three planets: Palma, Motavia and Dezoris. Palma is a world of green. Motavia is a world of sand. Dezoris is a world of ice. The Algol Star System is currently facing a great crisis."

Um, what kind of crisis? This is by far the most talkative NPC we've met so far, and yet I can't help but feel that he stopped just before the important bit. Anyway, this a good opportunity to share another excerpt from the instruction manual:

Quote:


Palma - Palma is just like our own world. It has dense forests, deep lakes and rivers, and wide open areas. The planet is old and fully developed. Its civilization, called the Palmans, uses space travel to get to the other two planets - Motavia and Dezoris.

Motavia - A planet just starting to be colonized by the Palmans. It has a Spaceport for ships that shuttle people and minerals back to Palma. Motavia travels around the sun in an irregular path. Much of the time it is very close to the sun and its topography is like Earth's deserts - dry, barren and sandy. There are scattered oasis' on the planet along with mountains and deadly poison gas fields.

Dezoris - This planet is the one farthest away from the sun. It is always cold there and its surface is covered with ice and snow. Because of the bitter cold and permafrost, the development of the planet has been very slow. Once every generation, the entire planet of Motavia has an eclipse and is completely dark for 10 days. During this time, the native Dezorians light special torches. These are considered very holy and their light is used for magic ceremonies of growth year-round.


This house is an important one, as you'll soon see.



"Dear, no one can stop you from doing what you know you must do. But if you should ever be wounded in battle, come here to rest."



And with a quick jingle, Alis spends the night. We can get a full heal here whenever we please. That's pretty nice! That said, I have no idea why Alis can't just sleep at her own house, which is literally the next house up the street.



This house too is super important, although in a less immediately obvious way. Let's have a chat with guy inside.



"...stories, you know, but some say that a fighter named Odin lives in a town called Scion. Also, I have a Laconian pot given by Nero, that would be helpful to you in your task. I wish I could help you more. I pray for your safety."

Our first lead on Odin! I guess he's chilling in Scion. We also hear the tell-tale ding of acquiring an item after Nekise mentions that pot, and sure enough:



It looks like our brother left us a pot? Great. I'm sure it'll look nice sitting on a non-existent shelf in the unfurnished house that we can't sleep in, but I'm not quite sure how it's of any help?



Apparently it's important to someone else, at least!
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Old 04-03-2018, 12:16 PM
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Gee, I wonder what could be in this building? No cross censorship here!


Soundcloud / FM Version



This is a pretty straight-forward JRPG service. Since our party currently consists of only Alis, we get a game over if she dies, so we won't be needing to use this any time soon.





This is nice, though! Yes, much like Dragon Quest, you need to check in with an NPC to find out how much EXP is needed to level up.



Now that we've paid our respects, it's time to hit up the shopping district!


Soundcloud / FM Version




The Armory in town sells only shields, despite all of the swords clearly in evidence, hanging all over back wall. Here's a look at the initial offering:



We don't have any cash at the moment, but even if we did, the Iron and Ceramic shields would likely be well over what we could afford to start. 520 MST ain't "cheap", no matter what the instruction booklet claims!



Now this stuff feels a bit more in our price range. We can probably afford fast food soon, at least! Something something social commentary. Incidentally, in case it wasn't clear, "first food" is just a mistranslation of "fast food". It definitely will not be the last such mistranslation that we'll see. That said, the menu here is some honest-to-god localization going on! In the original Japanese, Colas are instead called PelorieMate, which is a Japanese pun on Calorie Mate and licking, while Hamburgers are called Ruoginin, a pun on Japanese energy drinks. I think this is 100% a change for the better, so of course it's one of the very first things that all of the translation patches "fix". We even got these cute drawings in the bargain:



10 HP, eh? COLA might be cheap, but it will be obsolete almost immediately.



So this game has pawn shops. What the hell does any of this do, though? To the instruction manual!


  • FLASHlights are our default light source for exploring dungeons. They don't run out over time, but are consumed on use and don't persist once you leave the dungeon, so keep that in mind if you decide to nip outside!
  • ESCAPERs sound rad and are cheap, but we'll be running in this game quite a lot, and keeping stocked up on them would bankrupt us quickly. That said, I might pick up a couple later if I think of it (I probably won't).
  • TRANSFERs are your DQ Chimera Wings, and work identically, including being non-functional indoors. We won't be ranging far enough afield to need one anytime soon, so it'll be quite some time before I buy any. Expect me to regret this later when we need one and I've forgotten to pick one up.



Alright, so that's most of the town explored, but what the heck is with this grey house with the big hole in it?



Oh dear. I... see. Well, I guess we're in a dungeon now! Let's go spelunking. What could go wrong?
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Old 04-03-2018, 12:19 PM
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Soundcloud / FM Version

(Note that the Soundcloud link doesn't loop nicely here, since the game doesn't repeat the lead-in every time. Damned if I was going to leave off that kick-ass lead-in, though.)



Man, can we just take a second to talk about how cool these dungeons look? Look at that smoothly-scrolling 3D navigation. Yes, the corridors are kind of sparse, but at the time, this looked amazing. And the cone of light projecting forward lends the whole thing this great oppressive atmosphere. Just watch this GIF for a minute or two while listening to the Soundcloud link on loop and you have the quintessential Phantasy Star experience.



Around the first corner, we hit a fork. Let's go straight!



On second thought, let's not go straight!



The other branch leads us to a closed door. What mysteries could lie within?



(I love the door-opening sound effect, BTW. It's spoopy.)



Excellent.



I mean, yes, obviously.



That's a nice haul! We can do some work with that kind of dosh.



With this "dungeon" thoroughly spelunked, I beeline back for the exit. You might notice that we didn't have any combat encounters, and that's because there aren't any! Yes, Phantasy Star was kind enough to put a tutorial dungeon in the starting town to teach you the basics in a low-pressure environment.



Well, now that we've hit our first pay-day, I know exactly what I want to do with it.



Purchased items go into the common inventory and need to be manually assigned. We're now fully equipped!



Three points of defense isn't much of a defensive upgrade! Oh well, I'll take it, I guess.



Equipped items don't take up an inventory space, as you can see here. This will be important later, as we do have a limit, but it's reasonably generous compared to many games of the era, so it's essentially infinite for now.



Alright, we've seen then sights, spoken to everyone, and bought some new gear, so it's finally time to leave town!
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Old 04-03-2018, 12:24 PM
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Soundcloud / FM Version



Oh god, what happened to Alis' head!?



That's better. Camineet is a sort of raised, walled city, so you actually walk underneath the edge to enter and exit. But what's this? We can see the tube from earlier heading off to the west. It seems to be some kind of raised conveyor belt...



Looks like the spaceport that we heard about earlier. This makes one thing immediately apparent about Phantasy Star that sets it apart from its contemporaries: the overworld map has animation! I'll try to point out other stuff as we come across it.



Despite how we are able to enter and leave Camineet by walking underneath, that's not possible here. We can wander around under that square all we like, but we're not getting in. There's a second conveyor, though. I wonder where that goes...



Wait, there's another town right here? You'd think that someone would have mentioned that...



Yup, this is a new town, alright. I wonder what it's called?



Got it, thanks. Parolit is a bit smaller than Camineet, so it shouldn't take long to look around. Here's what the various townsfolk have to say:
  • "From the spaceport you can go to Paseo on Motavia."
  • "Medusa has been reborn and lives in a cave to the south. If you see her, you will be turned to stone."
  • "To the east lies a port town called Scion."
  • "There is an underground passage to the Gothic Forest somewhere to the west of Parolit."
  • "The forest is a dangerous place."
I think that last one is just a reference to the encounter table typically pulling from harder encounters on forest tiles than on plain grass.

Anyway, we now have a bearing on Scion, which is where we've been told that Odin lives. Everything's coming together!



As you might expect, there's another spaceport entrance here, but the soldiers here also demand to see our ROADPASS.



What's this, though? More shopping!



Swords! Let's find out more:



A good opening weapon, you say? That sure would have been good advice to hear before buying a shield! An IRON SWORD will definitely be our next purchase. Also, careful with the spoilers, item descriptions!



The First Food shop offered nothing new, and it looks like the Second-Hand shop also... wait, what? 1400!?



I mean, that sounds great, but I think I'll stick with FLASHlights for now, thanks.



Oh hey, this is new.



I know what you're probably thinking, and you're mistaken. Phantasy Star doesn't have any status ailments that persist outside of combat. No, Hospitals are this games "inns". Since we have free room and board in the next town over, and Hospitals charge money (no socialized medicine in this star system), this particular hospital is for chumps.



Alright, this update has been going on forever and we haven't gotten to stab anything. Let's go fix that!



You may have noticed in earlier shots that Camineet, Parolit, and the spaceport are surrounded by walls. They are almost entirely encircled by those walls, with the only gap to the east. Let's venture outside!



Alright, our first battle. Finally! Let's do this!
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Old 04-03-2018, 12:27 PM
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Soundcloud / FM Version



ohgodwhy





Um, that could have gone better. So, as it turns out, venturing outside the safety of the walls is a very bad idea. You can think of that gap in the walls as a Dragon Quest bridge, and we're not ready to cross that bridge yet. Good thing I saved!

Let's stay inside the walls and look for something a little more our speed.



In particular, we're going to wander around this patch of trees, because the green tiles inside the walls have an encounter rate of zero.



Ah, now this is much better. Let's take a look at the battle interface!

First off, you'll notice our status block at the bottom-left, and the enemy block at the top right. We see our current HP and MP under our name, and the current enemy HP next to its name, "Sworm". Since you see two HP totals, that means that we're actually fighting a group of two!

As you might expect, ATTK attacks the enemies with our short sword. MAGC isn't of much use yet, since we don't know any magic, and our only ITEM is the Laconian Pot. RUN tries to escape the battle, but we want to fight! That just leaves TALK. Um, let's try chatting up these giant flies?



Hardly a surprise, but worth a try, I guess? Something to keep in mind going forward, at any rate, if we come across anything that might be able to understand us. Each enemy Sworm hit us for 1HP of damage while we were trying to talk, so for now, let's squash some bugs!



Nice shot! Five is a high damage roll for Alis right now. Unfortunately, our sword attack only strikes a single target, and we don't get to choose which. As you might imagine, this can get to be annoying when there's an injured enemy in the group and our attack strikes a fresh target, but you get used to it.



*gripping controller tightly* You get used to it.



Better late than never, I guess. Our third attack deplete's the 2nd Sworm's HP, so it's out of the fight. Just one left! And it's a good thing too, because we're down to 9 HP ourselves!



As the final blow is dealt, the enemies disappear and the battle music fades out, only for the overworld music (or dungeon music, if we were in a dungeon) to fade right back in where it left off! Not only was that impressive back then, but it's still reasonably uncommon even now!



Where the heck were these bugs keeping a treasure chest?



Yes?



Six bucks! I'll take it!

So, enemies in Phantasy Star never just drop MST. No, they drop treasure chests that always contain some money, and possibly an item. So I guess we just always want to open the chests after every battle then, right?

Well... not exactly. Unfortunately(?), it didn't come up this update, but as you'll no doubt see in a future update, opening every chest is not entirely without risk.



That fight took a lot out of us. This... this is going to be an uphill climb. This is an 80s RPG though, after all, and that means only one thing: it's time to grind!
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Old 04-03-2018, 12:29 PM
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It's mostly uneventful.





SOMETIMES IT'S NOT, THOUGH.

Yes, even in our "safe" newbie forest, Owl Bears are common. Get accustomed to running!

(The next run attempt succeeded.)



Honestly, it went pretty quick. We hit level 2 in about two minutes, giving us +2 Attack, +3 Defense, and +4 Max HP. And we're already two-thirds of the way to buying a swank new sword! Let's go ahead and grind that out while we're at it...



Along the way, I find a lone Owlbear and decide to see if I can take it now.



NOPENOPENOPE



IRON SWORD get! That's quite an increase in attack power! PROTIP: Don't buy the LEATHER SHIELD before the IRON SWORD, unless you're demonstrating things for a Let's Play.



Next we pawn off our brother's Short Sword for a mere 15 Meseta. I'm sure Nero would understand... >_>



I think we all knew what was coming next.



I'm not gonna lie. That felt good.



And the rewards aren't bad either! Being able to kill Owlbears is a big step up in our income, and we're killing Sworms in a single attack now.



Level 3 follows soon after, and with it an increase of 2 Attack, 4 Defense, and 5 Max HP.



Alright, it's time to set off and see the world for reals.



So this is new.



They go down like chumps, though.



And leave us a big payday! Score!



We've barely set food outside, but we've already stumbled across something.



Another town! Given that we were told earlier that the port town of Scion lies to the east, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that we've found it. This is supposed to be where Odin lives!

Also, check out the cool animated tides!
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  #11  
Old 04-03-2018, 12:35 PM
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Scion's pretty big (there's about that much town again out of sight to the south)! Let's see what folks have to say:
  • "This is the port town Scion. Long ago, we thrived on trade."
  • "There is a hill named Baya Malay to the north of this town. But none of us dare approach it."
  • "A cave called Naula lies on the north coast of Baya Malay."
  • "A door locked with magic can only be opened with magic."
  • "They say that there are Motavian living on Motavia and Dezoriann on Dezoris. I'd sure like a chance to talk to someone."
  • "Odin set off to kill Medusa. He went with an animal that can speak! The animal had a bottle of medicine hanging from its neck, but I don't know what that is for."
  • "A cave called Iala can be found on the peninsula to the south of Scion."
  • "You need a COMPASS to pass through the Eppi Forest."
  • "I recently found a talking beast in the cave where Medusa lives. I sold him for a good price to a merchant from Paseo!"
What the hell was this random townsperson doing in Medusa's cave? Anyway, that's quite a lot to take in! We have quest hooks for days. The big take-away, though, is that Odin isn't here.



Scion only has two shops, and here's what they're selling. I'd imagine that the SECRETS in the Second-Hand shop might raise a few eyebrows. We can't afford it right now, though!

The LEATHER ARMOR is what we're wearing now, but here's a look at the rest of what's on offer at the Armory:



Well, the instruction manual certainly seems to have opinions on what our next purchase should be!

Let's end this update with a tour of the local area, to see the sights and lay out our options for where to go next.



Just as I set out to begin the tour, though, we run into this handsome new friend. Yet another cool feature of Phantasy Star that I haven't mentioned is that every enemy has an attack animation. All of the enemies that we've battled so far just flap their wings at us, but these guys are worth highlighting:

EPILEPSY WARNING!
EPILEPSY WARNING!

Ew. He got his eye goo on us! Rest assured that I'll be pointing out lots of other cool attack animations as we go along.



This fight also brought with it another level-up, and this level-up comes with an exciting bonus!



Two points of attack isn't very exciting, but we also picked up an impressive 5 Defense, 9 Max HP, and, most importantly, the HEAL spell, and 4 Max MP to go with it. HEAL does about what you'd expect, restoring a single target of exactly 20 HP. It's super useful at the moment, and a gigantic increase in our survivability. At a cost of 2 MP, we can cast it twice to start. With that momentary distraction over with (don't worry about our HP totals; I got back to town to heal), let's get back to the tour!



Here's the cave to the south of Parolit where we've heard that Medusa lives.



What's this, though? Just south-east of that cave seems to be another town?



Let's investigate!





This must be the Eppi Forest, then, which means that we'll need a COMPASS to progress any further.



To the east of Scion is another cave, named Iala according to the folks in town.



And finally, this Ziggurat-looking structure can be found in a wall to the north of Scion. To its left, you can see a narrow passage that would take us in the direction that the residents of Scion called out as dangerous.

So, what do ya'll think I should do next? Any suggestions on what I should buy? I could buy the next incremental upgrade for my sword, armour, or shield, or I could save up and buy one of the big-ticket upgrades, or even waste all of my money on a magic lamp (please don't make me grind up a magic lamp). And where should I investigate next? Here's a quick wrap-up summary of things that we know, put together from conversations in this update:
  • There is an underground passage somewhere that leads to the Gothic Forest, which is a forest to the west of Parolit.
  • We need a COMPASS to pass through the Eppi Forest.
  • Locked doors can be opened with a dungeon key, but magical locks require magic to open.
  • There is a dangerous hill named Baya Malay to the north of Scion, and a cave called Naula on the north coast of that area.
  • A man of great strength named Odin lives in Scion. He set off to kill Medusa, who lives in a cave to the south, along with an animal that can speak. That animal had a bottle of medicine around its neck, and was sold to a merchant from Paseo.
  • There is a spaceport to the west of Camineet that has flights to Paseo on the planet Motavia. Accessing the spaceport requires a ROADPASS.
Outstanding roadblocks/mysteries:
  • What does the LACONIAN POT do?
  • Where can we get a ROADPASS?
  • Where can we get a COMPASS?
  • SECRETS???
What say you, Talking Time? Alis is waiting!

Last edited by JBear; 04-03-2018 at 01:19 PM. Reason: Spoiler-popped flashing animation, cleared up hint wording
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  #12  
Old 04-03-2018, 12:39 PM
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it was my favourite 8-bit console growing up, and no, I'm not British.
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favourite
I'm onto you


Anyway, it seems like the game wants us to find Odin... so let's go to the Gothic Forest instead.
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Old 04-03-2018, 12:50 PM
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Yay, another JBear LP! One request: I have no idea if the strobing effect on that Maneater gif is enough to trigger an attack, but you may want to put any such gifs behind spoilerpops with epilepsy warnings.
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Old 04-03-2018, 01:05 PM
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does anyone else see a dong coming out of that Zirconian Armor in the manual scan?

Everyone else sees that, right?
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Old 04-03-2018, 01:08 PM
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Anyway, it seems like the game wants us to find Odin... so let's go to the Gothic Forest instead.
Actually, that's not an option! If it was, I'd have included it on the tour. If you wander west of the enclosed starting area, you'll find that it's actually on the coast! The clue about the Gothic Forest is worded potentially confusingly in-game. Pretend that it instead said "There is an underground passage somewhere that leads to the Gothic Forest, which is a forest to the west of Parolit."

I'll edit the summary accordingly!

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Originally Posted by Westerhof View Post
Yay, another JBear LP! One request: I have no idea if the strobing effect on that Maneater gif is enough to trigger an attack, but you may want to put any such gifs behind spoilerpops with epilepsy warnings.
Good idea! Done. Which reminds me, speaking of epilepsy warnings. This was my first attempt at making an animated GIF for this Let's Play:

EPILEPSY WARNING!!!
EPILEPSY WARNING!!!

Fortunately, Yimothy shared his secret pro GIF-ing techniques with me. Thanks, Yimothy!

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Originally Posted by Falselogic View Post
I expect scans of your hand drawn maps.
Nah. I can't find the maps that I made last time, and this is far from a blind Let's Play, so I don't really see the need to draw any this time. Besides, I'd like to finish this LP in a bit more timely fashion than the last one, and I don't want to make a bunch of extra work for myself. If you really want hand-drawn maps, several different tyrants have approached me to offer their own for this LP!
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Old 04-03-2018, 02:38 PM
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YES HERE WE GO!!!

I didn't play a single Phantasy Star title until the year of our space emperor 2015, when I purchased an Everdrive for my Sega Genesis. (This is mostly known I think, but the Genesis has a built-in SMS emulator, so you can play SMS games off of a Genny Everdrive. But you need a Power Base Convertor peripheral to play the actual carts on a Genny.)

And as it happens, I was keeping a daily journal of the games I was playing back then.

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Originally Posted by Dracula, September 14, 2015
I've had the hots for this game ever since I saw the beautifully rendered 3-D dungeons. But I didn't want to buy an SMS for all of the 20 or so games that are worth playing on it, so this will certainly do. I just played the intro…I plan to dive into this game after finishing Landstalker and maybe Shining in the Darkness.
I think I ended up diving into it immediately, and discarding Shining in the Darkness in favor. I still haven't finished the latter. Let's see...

It wasn't until September 28 that I picked it back up. And it looks like my first encounter played out almost exactly like Jbear's introduction, nearly beat-for-beat:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dracula, September 28, 2015
As for video games, I started playing Phantasy Star today. Since I don’t own a Sega Master System, I’m playing the game on my Everdrive. The game opens with an impressive cutscene of Nero – the player’s brother – being killed by robotcops on the streets of Camineet Residential Area, a small city on the planet of Palma. As he dies, he passes his sword to his sister, Alis, pleading that she take up his quest against the tyranny of Lassic.

“Camineet is under martial law,” the citizens warn, and the robotcops guarding the exits tell Alis that she can be killed for leaving the city.

As Alis, I wasted no time in ducking into an abandoned residence next to her house to find some mesetas (money). Here the game switches to its full-screen 3D dungeon mode, which is similar to Shining in the Darkness, but actually a bit more impressive. The abandoned building serves as an introduction to this mode, as there are no enemy encounters and just one side passage that leads to a chest with 50 mesetas.

Back in Camineet, the citizens warned me not to go near the forest or explore “Medusa’s cave” to the south, where the Medusa of greek myth was apparently turning people to stone. A man gave me a “Laconian Pot,” and wished he could help more…I haven’t been able to find a use for this item. (Although I actually do know what it’s for.)

I visited the shops next. Camineet has an armory (they sell melee weapons and armor), a first food [sic] shop (burgers and cola, which stand in for the typical JRPG potions in this game), and a second-hand store (one-use items such as flashers and transers, also the only place to sell items).

With my meager savings (pilferings), I bought Alis a leather shield.

Camineet has a few exits – two that lead to the wilderness outside the city, and another that links to the city spaceport via a moving road. Citizens apparently aren’t allowed to access the road without a pass, so I headed to the wilderness instead (despite their threats, the robotcops didn’t try to stop me).

Outside, I could see the structure of the city – I saw the moving road high above Alis, which goes west to the spaceport, and another road goes south from the spaceport to Parolit, another residential area. The whole city is surrounded by a wall that evidently keeps out biomonsters, although a wooded area east of Parolit isn’t safe.

I headed to Parolit. The place was much like Camineet – guarded by robotcops and inhabited by citizens who want to help Alis but can’t offer much beyond information. I had my eye on an iron sword in Parolit’s armory, and the area didn’t have any conveniently abandoned houses to rob, so I headed into the woods to grind for cash.

I quickly learned that Alis is pathetically weak at Level 1. The Parolit woods are inhabited by Sworms (some sort of robotic hornet) and the hilariously named Owl Bears (hovering eyeballs with bat wings). The latter appear more often, usually in pairs, pack 18HP, and whack Alis for 3-5 damage each round. Since she can only hit them for about 1 point of damage, I found myself running from most combat.

I received my first game over almost immediately (“Alis failed to stop the evil of Lassic…”). Fortunately Phantasy Star allows the player to save at any point, so you’re not punished much for dying against the weakest enemies in the game.

Soon I found that the prairies outside the city wall were encounter zones, and tended to spawn the more manageable Sworms. Notably, Phantasy Star apparently can’t display more than one enemy at the same time, so if an enemy group appears, it will simply show a list of HP totals on the right side of the screen. At first I thought enemies were attacking me multiple times per round, but no, it was just a group. Also, Alis randomly chooses an enemy to attack.

Anyway I eventually made enough scratch to buy the 75-meseta iron sword, which gave Alis enough attack power to slay Sworms in a single blow. Parolit didn’t have any more merch in my income bracket, so I hung around in the woods until Alis grew to level 3 and learned a heal spell. Then I headed east toward the port town of Scion, where I had heard you should go to make “deals.”

Scion seemed run down – the citizens said it used to be a center of commerce a long time ago. But the docks were totally abandoned. (Unfortunately nobody had left any chests full of mesetas sitting out on them.)

I gathered some more intel from the complacent people of Scion, the most intriguing being that a warrior named Odin had gone down to Medusa’s Cave to kill her, taking with him a “talking animal” that wore a mysterious potion about its neck. Another person told me he’d been in possession of a talking animal, but he had sold it.

The “deals” I’d been promised were disappointing – I haven’t met the rich fatcats of Palma who carry around hundreds and hundreds of mesetas – but I did set my eyes on a new suit of armor that cost an approachable 230 mesetas. Time to grind for more cash.
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Old 04-03-2018, 03:11 PM
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SECRETS

BUY THE SECRETS
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  #18  
Old 04-03-2018, 05:41 PM
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SECRETS

BUY THE SECRETS
Seconded.
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Old 04-03-2018, 07:20 PM
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At this point it doesn't matter for much but the grass area outside the town borders is pretty safe for encounters as long as you don't stray too far out (mainly so you can get back to heal after killing a few rounds of monsters).

I vote to smoke the laconian pot and ogle the tit swd
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Old 04-03-2018, 09:01 PM
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That thread title is also good advice for the real world.

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I have no idea why Alis can't just sleep at her own house, which is literally the next house up the street.
Both houses do seem to have the same lack of a bed so I'm not sure how Alis would actually sleep at either of them. (Maybe they have something like the Enertron on Motavia? Speaking of - the topology of the Algol system does not look like it could actually support life at all because the gravitational interaction of the planets would most likely tear them all apart. Unless that picture is not to scale.)

The dungeons and combat (including enemies dropping visible treasure chests) remind me of Might and Magic (and other games like that).

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Originally Posted by JBear View Post
I feel like something was lost in localization here.

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Originally Posted by JBear View Post
Unfortunately, our sword attack only strikes a single target, and we don't get to choose which. As you might imagine, this can get to be annoying when there's an injured enemy in the group and our attack strikes a fresh target, but you get used to it.
How irritating. I'm glad I've never played an RPG where anything like that happens. *grits teeth*

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Originally Posted by JBear View Post

I think we all knew what was coming next.


I'm not gonna lie. That felt good.
Not for me. I hate seeing bear on bear violence.

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Originally Posted by muteKi View Post
I vote to smoke the laconian pot and ogle the tit swd
I suppose. It's a shame JBear doesn't have anywhere near enough money to afford the Cyclic Redundancy Check sword. Maybe he should go for the Legit Suit instead. (I see this game has some of the same text length challenges during localization that have bedevlied many other Western releases.)

I wonder if anyone has ever had or has a custom license plate that says ROADPASS?

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Originally Posted by JBear View Post
The instruction booklet provides cute little pictures and descriptions of every items and piece of equipment in the game, so I'll be sharing those as we encounter them:
I've always loved pictures like that.

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Originally Posted by JBear View Post
The First Food shop offered nothing new, and it looks like the Second-Hand shop also... wait, what? 1400!?



I mean, that sounds great, but I think I'll stick with FLASHlights for now, thanks.
Seems like a wise decision. You could buy 70 FLASHlights for the cost of one lamp. (This seems like the "choice" between Pure potions and the Pure spell in Final Fantasy 1 ... Unless this is like a Torch vs the Radiant spell in Dragon Quest 1).

Last edited by Torzelbaum; 04-03-2018 at 09:18 PM.
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Old 04-03-2018, 09:18 PM
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I wonder if anyone has ever had or has a custom license plate that says ROADPASS?
Does it count if, now that you said that, I wish I did?
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Old 04-03-2018, 09:19 PM
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Only if you make it real and provide evidence in the proper thread(s).
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Old 04-03-2018, 10:27 PM
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That said, the menu here is some honest-to-god localization going on! In the original Japanese, Colas are instead called PelorieMate, which is a Japanese pun on Calorie Mate and licking, while Hamburgers are called Ruoginin, a pun on Japanese energy drinks. I think this is 100% a change for the better

(Spoilerpop for future party member)

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Originally Posted by JBear View Post
Fortunately, Yimothy shared his secret pro GIF-ing techniques with me. Thanks, Yimothy!
Glad I could help! That said, when you sent me this one:

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Originally Posted by JBear View Post
I knew the pupil had become the master.

Regarding what to do next, I think at this point I explored Medusa’s cave. That’ll get you closer to being able to afford SECRETS without having to just grind on the map.
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Old 04-04-2018, 07:49 AM
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Can we just stop for a second to talk about how amazing this game looks. I mean, just look at that screenshot. I played Phantasy Star before either Dragon Warrior or Final Fantasy, and I just couldn't understand why the other kids liked those games better (the answer, I decided: they didn't own an SMS). Someone recently said to me that the original Phantasy Star seems like it fell out of a time-hole from the future, and I kind of can't disagree with them. It just seems light-years ahead of its time in a lot of ways, but I think visually is where this is most pronounced. In some ways it even looks better than its Genesis sequel. It is a joy to behold.
I think you're 95% right. The game's visuals mostly hold up after all this time. The other 5%? Well...



...those overworld graphics probably weren't winning any awards even at the time.

I think this is true of the sequels as well, although at least they got a facelift in that department. There's a reason you only ever saw shots of the battles and dungeons in magazines.
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Old 04-04-2018, 08:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dracula, September 28, 2015
Scion seemed run down – the citizens said it used to be a center of commerce a long time ago. But the docks were totally abandoned. (Unfortunately nobody had left any chests full of mesetas sitting out on them.)
I didn't mention this earlier, but I used the Search command everywhere when I played this as a kid, and, in particular, I was convinced that the docks must be hiding something, since there were a bunch of little dead-end paths into the water with nothing on them. Alas, I came up empty.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Torzelbaum View Post
I feel like something was lost in localization here.
And I feel like something was gained!

(The Japanese name is the far more appropriate "Devil Bat".)

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Originally Posted by Torzelbaum View Post
I wonder if anyone has ever had or has a custom license plate that says ROADPASS?
Holy shit, I know what I'm doing for my next car. (My vanity plate for the last 12 years says "8BIT ME", so there's precedent.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Torzelbaum View Post
This seems like the "choice" between Pure potions and the Pure spell in Final Fantasy 1
Yup, you called it alright! In fact, I considered making this exact comparison in the update! We will absolutely not buy enough FLASHes over the course of the game to make this worthwhile, and some enemies even drop them. However, the big difference here is that FLASHes take up inventory space, so we'll still probably want to pick up a LAMP eventually to save on room.

(Incidentally, I didn't mention this in the update, but the Magic Lamp is called the Light Pendant in the original Japanese, and it looks like we didn't get redrawn art this time, explaining why that picture doesn't look much like a magic lamp.)

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I knew the pupil had become the master.
I mean, I did make some... concessions when it came to pixel fidelity in the still images. Sorry!
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  #26  
Old 04-04-2018, 09:17 AM
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It seems that the magic lamp is an essential purchase. Please get on that.
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Old 04-04-2018, 09:49 AM
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Robotcop < RoboCop < Robert Cop
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Old 04-04-2018, 11:02 AM
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It seems that the magic lamp is an essential purchase. Please get on that.
Heck, we should probably get two in case something happens to the first one
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Old 04-04-2018, 11:05 AM
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Prudent and sound thinking.
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  #30  
Old 04-04-2018, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Mogri View Post
I think you're 95% right. The game's visuals mostly hold up after all this time. The other 5%? Well...



...those overworld graphics probably weren't winning any awards even at the time.

I think this is true of the sequels as well, although at least they got a facelift in that department. There's a reason you only ever saw shots of the battles and dungeons in magazines.
Hah. Yeah, you're not wrong. Personally, I'd have gone with this shot as more egregious, though:



Those lazy textureless dock tiles are just blech.

(I'm pretty proud of the extra-long shots like this that I composited from several screens, by the way!)

That said, I would say it's the towns that look unimpressive, not the "overworld", which has those neat animated conveyors and tides and other stuff still to come. Also, I'd say that even the towns are at least as visually impressive as the competition. Certainly no worse, anyway:



(Fun fact: Phantasy Star's original Japanese release was only 2 days after Final Fantasy's! Both of them released in the gap between Dragon Quest II & III.)

The character sprites might look a little more doofy, but that's because they're twice as large!
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