The Phantasy Star III Chronicles: Part One
While I get closer to my goal of a Golgo-13: Top Secret Episode speedrun (I’m now under an hour from start of control to end of control, thus proving one SDA member wrong about what such a run would entail), I decided to begin another project off-stream. Yes, I’m going to try something I’ve started a couple times and gotten absolutely nowhere in each time: playing through Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom.
Phantasy Star III is probably the most interesting game in the series from a non-playing perspective. Whereas the first Phantasy Star brought a futuristic bent to the console RPG (And in the US, was actually the first of the “big three” console RPG franchises to come out, beating the first Dragon Warrior to market by about a year), Phantasy Star II continued the sci-fi bent and is considered the quintessential “old-school” console RPG in its sensibilities for better or worse (It has been incorrectly called “Teleporter Maze: The Game”. That’s technically wrong, but the game is brutally difficult..you absolutely needed the full strategy guide the game came with back in the day), and Phantasy Star IV is widely considered the best of the series, and a game that still holds up incredibly well even today, Phantasy Star III is…none of these things.
Phantasy Star III is widely panned today, basically for not being a Phantasy Star game (Without spoiling too much, the connection to the rest of the series is really only revealed in its ending). In terms of its setting, it simply looks much more “traditional fantasy” than the rest of the series (Particularly II). So I’m trying to play through it, trying not to think of it as “A Phantasy Star game”, and see how it holds up on its own.
I had forgotten about the little intro screen at the start of the game, detailing the story so far. Basically, Orakio and Laya, two warring, uh, warriors, destroyed each other and most of civilization a thousand years ago. It’s into this world that your character, Prince Rhys, is thrust. On his wedding day, his bride, Maia, is kidnapped by a dragon, one of the Layans. Rhys, incensed, swears to destroy the Layans…and is thrown into the dungeon by his father to “cool off” for a bit. It’s an intriguing start, although I have the feeling (Please don’t spoil anything for me) this is setting up for some “Fake King” shenanigans (SEE: Final Fantasy IV, Chrono Trigger [Fake Chancellor, but same concept]). After escaping, I was off to the races.
The first thing I noticed is that the pace is slow. Five minutes in, I found myself wishing for a “run” button like in most newer RPGs (Or remakes of old Final Fantasy games, going back at least as far as FF Chronicles). The meandering pace applies somewhat to the story as well. While it’s intriguing, I’ve been to three towns and, while I’ve picked up some fragments of information (True to old-school RPG form, the game throws you bits and pieces, but never directly tells you what to do next–and this is something I like), I have yet to enter a proper cave or dungeon or anything like that.
Still, I will say that the game is ambitious, if nothing else. Various features were advertised (Travel to seven different planets, four different endings depending on the lineage you choose), and even in my short playtime, I can see the ambition in the fact that I’ve heard four different battle themes (There’s a “main” battle themes, and then at least three others that play when you actually begin combat; I think the chosen theme is supposed to represent who has the advantage in battle.). Whether this ambition comes together in the execution is something we’ll have to see.
Oh, and Rhys wears a cape. He clearly knows what’s up.
More as I play through and really get into the meat of the game.