Phantasie

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Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.

Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, SSI was the king of computer RPGs. Back in 1985, however, they were just dipping their toes into the new genre. Their first RPG, Questron, ran into legal trouble with Richard Garriott, the developer of Ultima, but SSI wasn’t done yet. They decided to go back to the drawing board and make an RPG that was truly unique. Today’s game is the fruit of those efforts. Today’s game is Phantasie, developed by SSI and released on all major computer systems in 1985.

Phantasie was primarily inspired by the same things that inspired nearly all early RPGs, Dungeons and Dragons and Lord of the Rings. Players can make a party of six characters composed of standard fantasy races, elves, dwarves, gnomes, etc. Phantasie added to this though by also including several monster races that players could be such as minotaurs, pixies, trolls, or lizardmen. Overall, Phantasie has 15 playable races for players to build a party from. Classes include the mainstays: Fighter, Ranger, Thief, Monk, Priest, or Wizard.

Once the party is made, the Greek deity Zeus, tasks the party with defeating the evil wizard Nikademus, who has been recruited by rival deity Pluto to conquer the world. While the party works for Zeus, they are helped by Lord Wood, the in-game avatar for game designer Winston Douglas Wood, and Filmon the Sage, who help provide guidance on the player’s quest.

Combat in Phantasie displays the player’s party on the bottom of the screen and rows of enemies above them. Each turn, the player must give commands to each of their party members which are then carried out based on the character and enemy speed. After each battle, the party is awarded with experience points and can level up if they spend their experience points back in town, gaining new abilities and stats. It’s a unique system for the time but one that, in hindsight, feels more similar to the NES Final Fantasy games than other western RPGs of the time.

Phantasie sold very well for the time, pushing more than 50,000 copies of the game. SSI would later note that Phantasie was their best-selling game for the Commodore 64. Phantasie would go on to receive three sequels, with the last, Phantasie IV, being oddly exclusive to Japan.

Thank you so much for listening and thank you to Derek for requesting today’s episode. If you would like to request a game or just want to hear more gaming trivia from me, follow me on Twitter @vg_oftheday. Archives and transcripts are available on videogameoftheday.com. Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow for another Video Game of the Day!

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Devin "Katosepe" Sloane is a long time gamer and host of the show Video Game of the Day. He firmly believes Darklands is the pinnacle of gaming achievement and this is a hill he will die upon. Where his nickname came from is a secret to everybody.