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Phantasy Star Collection Review
game: Phantasy Star Collection
four star
posted by: Matt Baldwin
publisher: THQ
date posted: 09:10 AM Sun Feb 16th, 2003
last revision: 06:52 AM Fri Sep 23rd, 2005

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I think it was a Saturday morning when my mom dropped me at my friend\'s place for the day. At a point in my life when the only electronics in the household were a television and old 1970s stereo, I was enthralled with the Sega Master System my friend showed me and fell in love when he took out Road Rash and dropped in Phantasy Star, by far the strangest game I had seen up to that point. So, you can imagine the pleasure and open nostalgia I have sitting down and playing through Phantasy Star Collection, the re-release of the first three Phantasy Star games as one collection on the GBA.

What drew me to the game in the first place was the not-so-complete removal of the fantasy element -- this was no hack-n-slash D&D style game; it is set in the future where bio-engineering is the in-thing, there are three planets to explore, and everything feels sci-fi meets anime-fantasy. It still retains that hack-n-slash feel, but in a sci-fi way, with robots, etc., but there should be one thing noted and that Phantasy Star was the prototype for the genre on the console.

The first in the series will remind you of where the RPG came from. You\'ll see some familiar things very much still prevalent in the genre, namely the experience points system, the battle-system still resembles current titles (even though they try to change it, it often boils down to the same turn-based-battle-system), exploration of the world-map, something we\'ve recently lost, and the buying of more armor and weapons to get you through the game. One thing that surprised me on my replay of the original is that the game is still hard. At the beginning you pretty much start out butt-naked as far as skills and weapons are concerned, so you\'re forced to wander the few towns you find, collect a smidgeon of information and explore the world-map gaining a sufficient level of experience before you\'re ready to explore your first dungeon.

Probably my least favorite out of the collection is the second. For some reason, this installment never really turned me on. I mean, yeah, I played it because it was a Phantasy Star game, but the only amazing thing about it was it seemed like an extension of the first, adding in only a marginal amount of items, maybe completing the wish-list from the first game. Granted, it\'s much longer and a little better graphically, but it really doesn\'t hold any water with me.

Out of all three games, my favorite has to be the third, which takes you through multiple generations of characters. Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom spans multiple worlds like its predecessors and adds in more characters that\'ll join and leave your party. The battle system is still turn-based, where at each point you assign a particular task to the character to perform, i.e. magic, item, battle, or run. PSIII\'s exploration isn\'t as immersed in the dungeon crawl as the previous games.

One complaint I have is where\'s Phantasy Star IV? I mean, I remember playing all of the first three, but I truly forgot about the fourth in the series, which I never had a chance to play, yet which is considered by many to have been one of the best RPGs for the Genesis.

All the games here are your classic explore, find some items, battle some bosses type of games, but if you\'re into the nostalgia or looking for a historical perspective on the RPG, then I would recommend this cart; however, if you\'re looking for something new, then the Phantasy Star Collection won\'t hold up against more recent carts like Golden Sun on the GBA. The graphics graduate from 8-bit to 16-bit and were impressive for the day, but seem lacking now.

On a cost-to-play ratio, the Phantasy Star Collection comes through, offering well over a hundred hours of game time. It also serves as a reminder of where the RPG genre has come from and, really, how much the RPG still resembles its roots. I\'ll never forget my first character I saw on that television back in 1987, Noah, and thinking to myself, man what a cheesy name.