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Phantasy Star II (Genesis) artwork

Phantasy Star II (Genesis) review

"This isn't a game that holds your hand. You won't be eased into battle against easy foes that happily run into your weapons so you can garner the experience and cash they possess. Always remember: here there be monsters! They roam the planet with not only the desire to rip you to shreds, but the means too."

I won't lie. The odds are you've either already beaten Phantasy Star II or you never will. If you come to this game afresh, it will gleefully kick your arse and gloat over your broken corpse.

This isn't a game that holds your hand. You won't be eased into battle against pitiful foes that happily run into your weapons so you can garner the experience and cash they possess. Always remember: here there be monsters! They roam the planet with not only the desire to rip you to shreds, but the means too.

Don't believe me? Then help yourself to a ramble around the futuristic world of Mota. Stray off the beaten path and encounter the biological nightmares that reside there. Then die a bloody and swift death. That's how things work here; go up against the fiercely territorial beasts and find yourself dead.

Get used to seeing the Game Over screen.

And it's not like Rolf and friends, who serve avatars for your gaming delights, are in any way incompetent. Here you will find a varied party with a host of individualistic skills custom-made for combating the claw-laden bastards that vie so viciously for you demise. Your party has been sent out to investigate the strange mutant plant life that is suspected to be responsible for the rapidly increasing populus of nasties. It is with that you are whisked away to a bio-nuclear lab to collect evidence of this fornicating flora.

You'll die a lot while doing so.

Because even assuming you make it in one piece to the lab, Phantasy Star II's dungeons are designed by sadists. They want you to fail, they want you to encounter dead ends at every turn while hoards of enemies never stop pursuing and attacking. The lab is unending, twisting, maniacal and will gleefully torture you every single step you take. It's also your very first stop. This is how you are introduced to the game.

The beasts within are themselves abominations of natural selection. Meet RABGUT: once, this feisty little fellow was a normal dove-white rabbit, happily skylarking around with its other bunny chums in any of the lush fields that Mota supports. Now it towers above you, intestines spilling from a ragged gash carved into its chest. During battle, this little charmer will have to pause to shove its own guts back into its stomach.

That's not all the weak of heart need fear in a game so darkly presented that its occupants will regularly turn insane from the horror of what their once-peaceful world has become. The people of Mota have experienced the rapid decay of their homes as their towns are swallowed up by the monstrous swarms, seen loved ones die by their hands, watched their very existence crumble. Reality has become a living hell for them. This becomes all the more obvious should you try to leave the safety of your barricaded home town through the subway-like tubes that connect each outlying region. Promised new areas to explore and new ways to be slaughtered, instead you'll find your way forward held hostage by a gibbering madman with a laser pistol and a bomb who'll let no one past without paying a heavy toll. This was once a respectable member of society, a well-liked man of influence and wealth. What has driven him to this state? What horrors has he been forced to witness?

You'll see this a lot on your travels. People who have submitted to the terror of their situation and abandoned hope. This isn't some happy 'save the world from a slightly camp madman' set-up where everyone holds hands and sings merry tunes. This is attempted genocide, and the blame lies in the mistakes made from your own people. There will be casualties. Every last person is expendable, and the body count is always on the rise.

This is the situation, and this is where it started. This is where people realised that RPGs didn't have to be bright colours and uplifting morals. This is where people decided that it was time the envelope was pushed. There is no peace on Mota, there is only a bloody battle for survival and if you want to change that, you better work bloody hard at it. Because it won't be easy.

Odds are, you're all going to die out there. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (October 29, 2005)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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wolfqueen001 posted November 26, 2008:

This review impresses women, huh? Well, you certainly impressed me!

Anyway, this is a good review. I can see why it impresses. You make it sound challenging and interesting. This is a series I've been thinking about for a while, and it's good to know there's something darker out there, especially on the older consoles.

Oh, and double the points for the phrase "fornicating fauna".

You should use your Shining in the Darkness review to impress women, too. =D

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