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Phantasy Star IV (Genesis) artwork

Phantasy Star IV (Genesis) review

"I didnít want to play Phantasy Star IV when it first came out. Rumors had spread that this was the end of the series, and I heard the same from my friends. ďSo who wants to watch the end of an epic?Ē I asked myself. But as soon as I dismissed the heavy feeling in my heart and mourned my loss I finally picked it up, ready to say goodbye the only way I knew how--play the hell out of it. "

I didnít want to play Phantasy Star IV when it first came out. Rumors had spread that this was the end of the series, and I heard the same from my friends. ďSo who wants to watch the end of an epic?Ē I asked myself. But as soon as I dismissed the heavy feeling in my heart and mourned my loss I finally picked it up, ready to say goodbye the only way I knew how--play the hell out of it.

At first the mechanics of the game seem all too familiar. Battles consist in the same manner as they have before--the slicers, the swords all have the same graphics as in previous ones, but theyíve stepped it up a notch in this one. In my opinion the most exciting thing about the battles in part two was the ability to actually see your character attack, and in part three it was the backgrounds corresponding with whatever area you were in. (I donít think I need to remind anyone of the boring blue grid from part two.) Part four has finally combined them, making both the background and your characters visible. Okay, big deal youíre saying right? The battles are similar with one different element: Magic combos. Theyíre hard to find and itís pretty much a matter of luck. Not only do they have to be the right spells, the characters have to be in the right order too. The easiest way to pull this off is by making macros as soon as you discover one. All in all the game is still turn based, and while the encounters arenít over abundant they can still get a bit annoying.

So why play? Why do we play all turn-based combat games? The story. Youíre not going to be left dissatisfied in this one, or left in the dark. Although Iíll try and shed light on some things, I wonít reveal anything too crucial. Yes, this is the end of the series, and everything is put to rest. But no question is left unanswered, and the game even makes references to the previous sequels. Immediately I found myself liking the main character, Chaz. And the story drives on from that point--what starts out as a simple task turns into a massive end all epic that spans three planets and a space station. But the story is so involved and interwoven I canít say much without giving the whole thing away. All I can is that you wonít be disappointed. Chaz is not the only character worth liking in this game. Each one has there own personality that help make the game stylish. Wren from part three returns, another nei-like cat girl and a bizarre but powerful koala looking creature named Gryzz to name a few. It was rather hard for me to choose just four.

Seeing as this is a retro review, Iím going to try my best not to compare the graphics and sound quality to todayís standards. But matched against other games of its time Phantasy Star IV stands alone. I read a review so very long ago that awarded the original Phantasy Star the best graphics of the year; this game is no different. The cut-scenes are in slide show form, but they are beyond decent. Dark Force--in his many forms--is insidious and towers over any other monster. The most captivating thing about the graphics is the lush background that changes along with the environment. As I said, the annoying blue grid is gone, replaced with every ounce of scenery your eyes can take in. Although when traveling the world map your characters have the traditional tiny body big head aspect, during battles their anatomy reverts to a more pleasing form and the entire backdrop is worthy of a gallery showing. The sound is yet another redeeming quality of this game. Though itís simple at times--slash sounds, monsters growling--itís almost always fitting. Though the score may come across as digitized for the most part, itís intricately matched with the cut-scenes and makes them all the more enjoyable.

Itís sad to see a true epic depart. Phantasy Star created a legend that never truly got the credit it deserved. But I was lucky enough to stumble across it, and it helped mold my appreciation for role-playing games. Nothing lasts forever as they say, and it had to end sometime. Which is slightly ironic, the final game being so good it was the one time I didnít want to see it end. But--to say the least--it goes out swinging.

Graphics: Beyond outstanding. It could match up with anything from itís time, and maybe a few things that would come later on.

Game Play: The controls are simple, and the random encounters arenít happening so much that it becomes irritating. (Down with Dawn of souls.)
Fun Factor: With the massive story, the endearing characters and impressive backgrounds this game never gets old.

Replay Value: Moderately high even though there isnít a New game + feature. Whatís going to keep you playing will be your desire to watch the story play out again.

Sound: Although most of the sounds do seem like theyíre coming from a computer, theyíre placed well enough so that itís hard to notice.

Overall rating: 8.5/10


True's avatar
Community review by True (May 03, 2005)

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