I played all of the sequels to this RPG that were available on the Sega Genesis, two on the actual hardware and the last one as a Virtual Console game. I am finally getting around to playing the first game in the series on the Sega Master System.
Growing up in the 80s, I never actually saw a Master System in person and knew of nobody who owned one. Yet there are hundreds of games for the system and a lot of folks consider Phantasy Star to be one of the best. I enjoyed it for the most part, but, if not for the conveniences of emulation, I would not have been able to get through it. State saving and CPU speed boosts help to get through the most tedious parts of the game play.
The turn-based combat mechanics are incredibly basic. Your characters can ether attack, run, talk, or cast spells. Talking is useless. There are only about four combat spells and one protection spell. Ninety percent of the time I would go into fast emulation and just spam the attack button. It’s really not until the final few dungeons that I had to think a little more about tactics. This is too bad, because most of the game is grinding to level up.
There is barely a story. The gist of it is simply to get revenge for the death of your brother. You advance through the game by finding items that give you access to more regions and dungeons. The dungeons are the core of the game. They are impressively rendered as first-person perspective mazes. Much of the game’s challenge is then mapping out these mazes as you would in Eye of the Beholder.
Despite the flawed mechanics and threadbare plot, I enjoyed most of the experience. There’s a very casual pacing to the game and enough variety to keep it interesting.