In the past, Sega has often released its Genesis games in collections for consoles, and a few titles also found their way onto mobile platforms. Now, the “Sega Forever” line is slated to bring all of Sega’s past releases onto mobile formats in a uniform manner. The games are free (with ad support) and can be unlocked for a mere $1.99. It sounds like a great deal, but the proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

The first title I downloaded was Phantasy Star II, my favorite Genesis RPG and one of my favorite games of all time. I love its atmosphere and music, and the thought of playing this classic while in a waiting room or on a plane was too good to pass up. Its length makes it the ideal travel RPG for me. Phantasy Star II isn’t the kind you just play for a while and then forget. Even with its massive hint book, it will take at least 30 hours or so to complete.

The presentation has been translated intact. The visuals are clean on my Samsung Galaxy S7, and the action is easy to see. Text boxes are large and clear, which is paramount in an RPG, particularly in combat. The music sounds great too, which is a big relief for me. The audio on many emulated games can be distorted or just “off,” and thankfully, Phantasy Star II doesn’t suffer from this common and frustrating issue.

To be honest, my biggest concern with playing classic games on my phone is the gameplay. The digital touchpad can be a major issue because it either takes up too much of the screen or simply isn’t responsive enough for certain games, like platformers or shooters. While the interface still has problems with a few other games (the double jump in Revenge of Shinobi, for example), it doesn’t affect menu-driven, turn-based gameplay. Both movement and combat seem at first less intuitive than on a standard controller, but they only take some getting used to. Granted, that’s owed more to the style of gameplay than the control interface itself. Truthfully, I would still rather play with an external controller (the option to do so is included) or something other than that digital pad, but it works well enough here.

My only other major concern was the save feature. I played for two hours and lost my save because I was saving it in-game only. Using the cloud save (the little disc in the upper-right corner), you can back up all your saves. Just sign into Google Play and you’re good to go.

If you’re a fan of Phantasy Star II and are looking for a great, challenging RPG on the go, then this is a release you should consider downloading. It looks and plays well and offers hours of classic enjoyment that fans can take with them anywhere. Now Sega, please give me the others in the series!

Ken Horowitz Ken Horowitz (3 Posts)

Dr. Kenneth Horowitz is an English professor who has taught research and writing for 20 years. He has been writing about video games for well over a decade and is the author of Playing at the Next Level: A History of American Sega Games by McFarland & Co, which chronicles Sega of America’s game development history. His work has also been featured in numerous video game publications like GamesTM and Hardcore Gamer Magazine and several enthusiast websites (GotNext, The Next Level). Ken has also published academic articles about using video games to teach English as a second language in professional publications that include Language Magazine and the Hispanic Educational Technology Services Journal. His next book, The Sega Arcade Revolution, will be published in 2018 by McFarland.