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Phantasy Star IV (Genesis) artwork

Phantasy Star IV (Genesis) review


"Chapter IV of the continuous battle to liberate Algol from the malevolent forces of the Profound Darkness"


Phantasy Star IV made its explosive appearance on the SEGA Genesis with a much polished look and feel to it than previous titles. It was also very costly to acquire when it hit the shelves in America. Of all the entries prior to it, PSIV felt a lot more balanced and enjoyable with a lot to offer in many ways. Quite possibly a favorite among fans and RPG players overall. I can state that this entry felt the most complete and quite a joy to play through all the way to the end with little complaint. If anything, any other complaint about this game would pretty much be nitpicking, but this is of course, my humble opinion.

The game centers around Chaz, a young hunter who takes part on saving the galaxy 1,000 years after the events on Phantasy Star II. Society fell into decline after Mother Brain ceased to operate and sent Motavia into a downright spiral, slowly reverting into its natural desert state over time. This was to be called the Great Collapse and ever since its declining population slowly prospered on its own with what they had, along with what little technology was left to keep the minimum life support needed to survive. Chaz ventures deeper into events and experiences which further expand the explanation behind the sudden resurgence of monsters attacking the populace, along with others who join him and discover that once again their world must defended against Dark Force and the Profound Darkness.

The play mechanics are more polished and balanced than prior games, and battles bring back the sprite action that was dearly missed in PSIII. On top of that a new feature called Macros Attacks allow you to set up various combinations of actions using different characters as means to deal with certain enemy types and boss fights. Along with that you can create special attacks by combining two or more characters that can deal a great deal of damage than most attacks featured in the game. Besides Techniques each character can also use Special Abilities that are few in number but essential for each battle depending on said character's occupation. Characters can learn new Special Abilities just as they learn Techniques with experience and leveling up. Grinding here is neither painful nor cumbersome, and it helps advance the story in a nice, continuous flow.

There are various shout outs of prior games in the series, such as a crashed starship dungeon you visit to find out events from Phantasy Star III, Alis Landale recognized as the heroine of Algol, among many other tidbits and easter eggs only dedicated Phans could spot right away. Some of these actually connect with the story as you advance towards your quest into the game. The cast of characters themselves have their own background and personality, which adds to depth within their relationship. Another unique aspect is that you get to be joined by native planetary characters from Motavia and Dezolis during segments within the game, such as Gryz and Raja, as well as having a "talk" option to start a conversation in relation to the current event you are playing through. Such things help the player to relate close to the characters giving an air of familiarity in getting to know them until the end.

The soundtrack hits hard with tracks that get you right into the action during battles or traversing through the various overworld planes the game offers. Depending on where you stumble into, there are different dungeons tracks which fit the setting accordingly, such as cavernous tunnel or a high tech enclosure. You will find yourself remembering most of these tracks long after finishing the game.

Just as there are numerous encounters with a vast variety of enemies you will find yourself facing the likes of Dark Force numerous times throughout the game, instead of just once as in previous titles. Other boss battles also put your wits at a test, for Phantasy Star IV doesn't pull punches when confronting such big battles in the least. Even with such challenges you do not feel the agony of despair but that of accepting such challenges, making you even more inspired to do better and beat the game with such amazing odds. The side quests add more into said challenge and provide humorous breaks that break the monotony of a straight forward storyline.

Phantasy Star IV would be a nice addition to your retrogaming collection and if you make a choice of only trying one game out of the original series, it provides you with the most balance and familiarity that you’d expect from an RPG of its era without much fuzz in gameplay. Even if you would not be familiar with its lore when playing, you can still enjoy the mechanics and entertainment value that this game offers.

4.5/5

CptRetroBlue's avatar
Community review by CptRetroBlue (December 30, 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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