Phantasy Star II (Genesis) review
"To live a life full of regret is a regret itself. No man understands this more than the twenty year old Rolf Landale, the protagonist of our story. At first glance you may pass him off as a generic RPG hero, with his blue hair, determined expression, mastery of swords and do-gooder attitude. However, you would be quite mistaken to simply pass him off as such. "
To live a life full of regret is a regret itself. No man understands this more than the twenty year old Rolf Landale, the protagonist of our story. At first glance you may pass him off as a generic RPG hero, with his blue hair, determined expression, mastery of swords and do-gooder attitude. However, you would be quite mistaken to simply pass him off as such.
Enter Nei. This violet haired runaway found her way into Rolf's arms a mere seven months before the start of our tale. Being a product of humans blended with the DNA of bio-monsters that terrorize the entire world, the populace hated her because of her genetics. But when she found a home with Rolf, he fought for her and protected her when nobody else would. It didn't take any of the incredibly advanced, futuristic technology on Rolf's home world of Motavia to come to the obvious conclusion: Nei loves him.
So when Rolf gets assigned a dangerous mission from his commander to find and eliminate the cause of the bio-monsters spreading all across Motavia, you can rest assured Nei wants to be by his side. Reluctantly, Rolf allows her to come along.
With Nei in tow, Rolf sets out to experience Phantasy Star 2's amazing narrative every step of the way. As he fights his way through the random battles that RPGs of the time were laced with, he'll meet an ever-increasing menagerie of allies. Be it the lovely doctor Amy; Hugh, the biologist who specializes in damaging living creatures; the engineer Kain (who happens to be better at breaking machines than fixing them); or the cunning thief Shir, your party is never at a loss for an interesting and workable combination. Because each and every character has their strengths, weaknesses, and list of available techniques, not a single party member is left behind in usefulness against the bloodthirsty foes Rolf and his friends will face.
And unlike many other RPGs, these foes will not back down without a fight. The turn-based battles you face in Phantasy Star 2 are brutal. Enemies will weaken you, keep you from attacking for several turns, drain your life away with deadly poisons, and smash you repeatedly with powerful blows and techniques. You'll fight swarms of these monsters in the huge, maze-like dungeons. You will be lost for hours as you spend your time searching out every nook and cranny of these intense labyrinths just to find every last treasure. And trust me, you will need each one. To say that Phantasy Star 2 is a difficult game is to give an understatement of the utmost proportions.
But while it may be difficult to finish without effort, it's very easy to love. Phantasy Star 2 thrusts you into a most beautiful world. Large, expansive fields have huge, domed farms spread liberally throughout the landscape. Lakes overflow with sparkling blue water just barely contained by dams that dot the countryside. Futuristic city settings are filled with steel towers, populated by charismatic characters that are easy to fall in love with. Even the NPCs seem to have personalities of their own, from the lazy kid who thinks working is pointless, to the supercomputer that runs the entire world of Motavia, to the denizens of a decimated city, who tragically live every day in fear of another attack by the scoundrels that crushed them.
Such tragedy is commonplace in Motavia. A good man turned to a life of crime kills his own daughter, while trying to rob her for the very money he was going to use to pay her ransom with. As the man realizes what he's done, he ends his own life. It's all backed by a haunting melody that permeates not only the mind but the soul as well. As more and more of these powerful, heart-wrenching moments take place, Rolf and his allies become more and more determined to find the cause of all of their tainted world's problems.
And then, one of them makes the ultimate sacrifice.
Before you even have time to react, one of Rolf's allies is torn away from him in a tearjerking scene that any fan of Final Fantasy VII can relate to. Utilizing the Genesis' power, large and detailed face portraits are shown throughout the dialogue:
"There's no hope left for me... Please Rolf, don't let them ever repeat the mistake they made when they made me. I hope everyone on Motavia can find happiness in their new lives..."
With tear-filled eyes, he lays his companion on the ground, silently swearing vengeance.
To live a life full of regret is a regret itself. Rolf will not let this person's sacrifice be in vain. He will not let his regret overpower him.
He will crush the dark force that haunts his people.
And after a huge quest that takes him to a whole other world, Rolf will finally face his ultimate battle against the very supercomputer his people thought was there to protect them. Although the Genesis tries as hard as it can to portray these story scenes, it still suffers from the limited storytelling power of the time. Sega could have only made this story better by releasing it on more powerful hardware--hardware that wouldn't exist until the future--to portray such a magnificent piece of gaming history, that nearly every RPG in its footsteps owes a subtle nod to.
So that's exactly what Sega did.
Community review by espiga (July 24, 2007)
Espiga likes big butts, and cannot lie.
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