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Phantasy Star IV (Genesis) artwork

Phantasy Star IV (Genesis) review

"The long, long struggle of ancient times finally ended… The victor sacrificed the vanquished to the heavens. Four bells tolled. Four torches were lit. And the world continued for thousands of years… "

The long, long struggle of ancient times finally ended… The victor sacrificed the vanquished to the heavens. Four bells tolled. Four torches were lit. And the world continued for thousands of years…

This is the backdrop to one of the most impressive feats ever conceived and implemented on a 16-bit system: Phantasy Star IV. This was Sega’s crown jewel of its impressive RPG collection; a direct rival to the immortal Final Fantasy VI, released in the same year on the rival SNES. While the latter has garnered more attention and acclaim beyond almost any other game, PSIV is a fantastic game in its own right. It serves as a conclusion to the series, taking place 2000 years after the events of the original Phantasy Star, and 1000 years after the immense happenings of Phantasy Star II. It is not known, but sometimes assumed, that the events of Phantasy Star III and Phantasy Star IV take place at about the same point in time, though because the former was more of a spin-off than a true sequel, it cannot be known for sure.

AW 2284. Monster attacks have swelled the ranks of those who call themselves “Hunters.” But as the attacks become ever more frequent and powerful, an elite few begin to wonder what is behind this outbreak… and how it will all end?

Thus begins the saga of Chaz Ashley, a sixteen year old man who has been raised and trained as a hunter by Alys Brangwyn, a legendary hunter known far and wide for her prowess with her slashers. What starts out as a simple mission to exterminate some monsters in an academy basement turns into the fight for the entire Algo solar system. Along the way, Chaz meets up with and fights alongside characters from all sorts of backgrounds and walks of life, and the storyline manages to tie in all three previous Phantasy Star games while preserving its own plotline. With plenty of twists and turns along the way, you’ll feel compelled to play on, simply to find out what happens next. Each character has his/her own background and a subplot, and the four main characters have their plots explained in even greater detail. While the storyline is impressive, it is not the only aspect of the game that shines.

The graphics for this game are top-notch. Each monster is drawn with precision and passion, and the animated cutscenes truly add to moving the storyline along. Character renditions are unbelievable, and the boss details are even more impressive than that “grunt” enemies. Backgrounds not only fit their respective locations, they embody them. You’ll feel as though you’re actually there. This is only half of the atmosphere that is provided, and it is the other half that provides the complete experience.

Sound and music combine to form an acoustic experience like no other on the Sega Genesis. The music is top-quality, and fine-tuned for each and every location. Sound effects are extremely varied, so the player won’t feel as though they’re hearing the same effect over and over. Combined with the graphic experience, you’ll feel as though you’re actually at the many locations the party travels to.

Controls are extremely easy to pick up. The menu is streamlined for easy access to information, items, techniques, and skills. Battles are managed in the same way. Walking around and talking to people is simple enough. As for the gameplay experience, it is relatively unchanged from the previous Phantasy Star games. You travel around to different places, talk to people, engage in random battles, and procure items from dungeons. While nothing radical, the game makes the experience the best it can possibly be. The game itself is not too much of a challenge, though players at higher levels will sometimes feel that there is not enough of a challenge later in the game.

Ultimately, this game is the crème de la crème of the Genesis 16-bit collection. There has been no game like it before, and there will not be another like it again. It is a unique and compelling game, with a storyline comparable to great novels, graphics attuned to fine art, and a soundtrack that would receive ample airtime on radio stations. While it has its flaws, the perks of the game tend to cover these flaws up successfully, creating the ultimate gaming experience. I score this game a 9.4 out of 10.

cloudff72000's avatar
Community review by cloudff72000 (May 21, 2007)

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