Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.
When it comes to classic RPGs, Nintendo was always the clear winner in the 8 and 16 bit eras. With titles like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, they were essentially unbeatable. I think it’s because of this that many people tend to forget Sega’s contributions to the genre at the time. They may not have focused on RPGs but that doesn’t mean they didn’t leave a lasting impact. Today’s game is the first entry on the Genesis of their most famous RPG franchise. Today’s game is Phantasy Star II, developed by Sega and released on the Genesis in 1989.
Taking place 1000 years after the events of the first game, Phantasy Star II returns to the system of Algol and sees that it has been revitalized through a computer system known as Mother Brain. Mother Brain has helped terraform the planet of Mota into a paradise. However, when monsters start to increase in numbers outside of the towns, Rolf and his friend Nei decide to investigate.
Phantasy Star II no longer uses the first person dungeon crawling style of the first game and instead opts for a top-down camera in the overworld with a third person camera in battles. The game uses random battles to level up characters and prepare them for the dungeons they must explore throughout their journey. Players must manage character’s equipment and special abilities as well, much like other traditional JRPGs.
Phantasy Star II likely won’t blow minds of players today who have access to a large number of JRPGs but for Sega Genesis owners of the time, Phantasy Star II was what they craved and in the US, it actually came out before players were introduced to Final Fantasy for the first time. Critics raved about the graphics and story, with some even calling it one of the best role playing games ever released.
In retrospective reviews, Phantasy Star II is still often cited as a major influence on RPGs but this hasn’t helped keep it from showing its age. Many of the story elements used in Phantasy Star II have been co-opted by other JRPGs over the years so modern players would likely find it trope-y and the subpar localization won’t help. Still, the well-balanced combat is praised and for players looking to see the origins of the JRPG genre, Phantasy Star II is a great place to start.
Thank you so much for listening! If you like learning about the history of video games as much as I do, then take a look at today’s sponsor, Old School Gamer Magazine. Every day they post new articles on their website and every other month, you can get one of their high quality magazines delivered to your inbox absolutely free! They even have a print subscription available for patrons! It’s a gorgeous magazine filled with really cool interviews, reviews and retrospectives. To sign up for your free copy, go to oldschoolgamer.com/day. That’s oldschoolgamer.com/day. Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow for another Video Game of the Day.
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