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Phantasy Star II (Genesis) artwork

Phantasy Star II (Genesis) review


"A great RPG with a dark message"


Phantasy Star II was an JRPG marvel which was pretty much ahead of its time as was its first entry on the series back in the Master System It included a more Sci Fi setting than most games of its kind and had a tragic story which got darker all the way until you beat the game, something that wasn't shown much often in games during that era.

The story begins with the main protagonist Rolf, awakening from continuing nightmares of a girl fighting off a giant demon and him being helpless about it. He is then summoned by the Government of Mota to investigate an incident involving the sudden appearance of monsters (referred to as biohazards) that have plagued their world all about. He reluctantly takes along Nei, a young girl shunned from society for being a hybrid of human and bio-monster with him at her request. As they transverse on their quest they meet upon others who join on their own accord and manage to figure the reason for the appearance of monsters on their world, but not before getting arrested by the same Government which hired Rolf to investigate the situation in the first place. The next thing he knows is that one of their planets, Palm gets destroyed in the process and then goes on to investigate further events on the desolate planet of Dezo, where the rest of the story is told.

The game itself takes place 1,000 years after the events of the first entry in the series and it does a good job on connecting some of its own lore halfway through. One of the best things that stand out is the completely overhaul of science fiction motifs over fantasy, which replaces some tropes like Magic with Techniques and Cloning over mystical revivification of characters, along with centers where you can either teleport to previously visited towns and record your memories as a way to save your progress. Weapons and armor have also the futuristic treatment, adding laser guns and energy shields along with familiar items like swords and armor. Other things like treasure chests are replaced with metal boxes and so on. Phantasy Star II feels like a very contemporary title in such aspects.

The game shines on storytelling and dark themes, which you will be faced with throughout the game from beginning to end. Such scenes like the ones where you must confront a criminal who attacks anyone trying to cross over ending up killing off his own daughter which was the reason why he was forced into doing such things comes quite like a shocking experience not felt on may games during its time. Another theme is the overall feeling of dread that is present when you embark on your quest around Mota. Its residents live in a paradise filled with all commodities and little effort in exchange. The being that takes care of their lifestyle, Mother Brain, provides with nurturing nature in exchange of total obedience. Not unlike an animal you keep in a zoo where its taken care off as long as it is docile and loses its freedom to roam free in the wild.

As compelling and engaging as the story is and how well produce the music tracks are, Phantasy Star II is tasking on its pike on difficulty from the get go. Even at the beginning you find yourself at odds trying hard to get to a fair level and earn currency to continue in your quest, making grinding much of a chore than anything else. Most of the sound effects lack that extra oomph when it comes to attacking enemies to make the battles more engaging. The graphics can be both detailed and sharp, and very colorful, but at times some parts of the game seemed pretty bland and simplistic. The character sprites used on the overworld for example are an example of this.

Even with its few shortcomings, the game is still very engaging once you play it, immersing into its complex unravel of events and shocking moments. The Sci-Fi setting is a nice break from most other RPGs that are set mostly in medieval fantasy. You would do good in at least play it once should you take on its challenge. For gaming collectors this is a definite game to own, making it a fine addition to your Sega Genesis library.

4.5/5

CptRetroBlue's avatar
Community review by CptRetroBlue (December 02, 2018)

Cpt. Retro likes old school gaming the most and grew up playing Arcade games in Mexico. He also loves talking about retrogaming.

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