Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom
|Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom|
Box art for the North American release
|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game|
Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom, released in Japan as Toki no Keishōsha: Phantasy Star III (時の継承者 ファンタシースターIII?, lit. "Successors of Time: Phantasy Star III"), is a role-playing game that was released for the Mega Drive/Genesis in Japan in April 1990 and in western countries in 1991. It was also released in three different compilations known as The Phantasy Star Collection for the Sega Saturn and Game Boy Advance, and The Sega Genesis Collection for the PlayStation 2 and PSP, and later re-released on the Virtual Console. It was featured in Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Phantasy Star III is a sequel to the previous game in the series, Phantasy Star II, although the connections to other games in the Phantasy Star series are not immediately evident. Gameplay is similar to the games before it in the series, with combat still being turn-based and battles randomly occurring. Players must explore both overworld maps and dungeons in order to progress through the game.
Phantasy Star III mostly follows the traditional roleplaying game formula seen throughout the series, with exploration of several 2-D worlds, character recruitment, and random enemy encounters using a turn-based battle system. Unlike previous games, the series staple of "techniques" play a diminished role in combat. New features in the combat system include the auto-battle feature and the icon-based menu system.
The feature that mostly separates Phantasy Star III, however, is that the story spans three generations of characters. At critical points throughout the game, the main character is given the option of marrying one of two women he has encountered during his travels. This choice determines the new main character of the next generation—the child (or children) of the previous lead. The choice also affects the gameplay, as the main character may be Orakian or a mix of Layan and Orakian, which differ in their ability to use techniques and their level of proficiency with them. Two paths in the second generation in turn lead to four paths in the third and final generation, and depending on which of the four main characters is played, the ending will vary.
Phantasy Star III appears at first to take place in a medieval fantasy setting, in contrast to the science-fiction settings of previous games. A thousand years prior to the start of the game, two factions — one led by the swordsman Orakio, the other by the sorceress Laya — were engaged in a bitter conflict. An attempt at peace was made when the two leaders met for an armistice, but soon afterwards they both mysteriously vanished. This placed the two factions in a precarious situation, as each blamed the other for their leader's disappearance. All communication between the Orakians and Layans was suspended, travel between their respective worlds was prohibited, and the two groups teetered on the brink of war.
Players take control of Rhys, Crown Prince of the Orakian kingdom of Landen, on the day of his wedding to Maia, a mysterious amnesiac who washed up on Landen's shore two months earlier. During the ceremony, a dragon — identified as a Layan — suddenly appears and snatches Maia, in what seems to be an overt escalation of the Layan-Orakian conflict. During Rhys's search for Maia, he recruits various characters to his cause. Ultimately, it is revealed that Maia herself is Layan — Princess of the kingdom of Cille — and that her kidnapping was actually a rescue attempt by her people, who believed she had been stolen from them by the "hostile" Orakians.
It becomes evident that the Layan-Orakian conflict has been one of relativism, with neither side good nor evil, sustained by a mutual prejudice. It is a conflict that prevails until the characters of Phantasy Star III - spanning three generations - come to shocking revelations about their worlds, about Laya and Orakio, and ultimately, expose the true root of evil.
Rhys (Kein in the Japanese version) - the game's first playable character. He is the prince of the Orakian kingdom of Landen whose quest begins as he seeks to rescue Maia, his bride-to-be, after she is kidnapped by a Layan dragon. Rhys fights with swords, knives, or needlers. Due to his full-blooded Orakian heritage, he cannot use techniques.
Lyle is a mysterious man who joins Rhys to repair the weather-control system on Aridia, but seems to have his own separate agenda. Lyle fights with twin staffs, but can also use techniques: it is later revealed that he is the prince of a Layan kingdom.
Mieu is a combat android designated for close-quarters fighting, overwhelming her opponents with her lightning-fast reflexes and deadly claws. She waited by a lake for 1,000 years in anticipation of "a descendant of Orakio" to command her. Despite being neither Layan nor Orakian, she is capable of using techniques. The full extent of her functions is a mystery. She remains a playable character through all three generations.
Wren (Searren in the Japanese version) is an android who specializes in managing and analyzing technical systems. In combat, he uses various large firearms. He is also capable of using techniques. He joins Rhys in order to help him fix the weather system and thus thaw out the entrance to the world of Aquatica. He, along with Mieu, is one of the two characters who stay on through all subsequent generations.
Lena is the young princess of Satera, an Orakian kingdom west of Landen. She first appears to help Rhys escape from the dungeon, where he was thrown by his father to prevent him from starting a war with the Layans. She becomes a permanent member of Rhys' team towards the end of his quest. As a pure-blooded Orakian, she fights with knives and needles and cannot use techniques.
Maia (Marlena in the Japanese version) is the mysterious woman who washes up on the shores of Landen without her memory and gets taken in by the royal family, where she falls in love with Rhys and eventually becomes engaged to him. Her kidnapping sets the game's story into motion.
Ayn (the main character if Rhys marries Maia) is the heir to the throne of Cille. But as his father sends him with Mieu and Wren to find Satellite, a haven of eternal peace, cyborgs begin to assault their kingdom, and the royal family and the inhabitants flee. Ayn is thus asked to find the lunar utopia, Azura, to save his family. Ayn inherits sword fighting ability from his father, Rhys, and the use of techniques from his mother, Maia.
Thea (Lann in the Japanese version) is Lyle's daughter and the princess of Shusoran. As the cyborgs attacked the city, they kidnapped and imprisoned her in the dungeon of Lensol. Once Ayn rescues her, she becomes a valuable ally, using twin slicers and various techniques.
Sari (Lynn in the Japanese version) is Lena's daughter and the ruler of Landen and Satera. Just like her mother, she is a pure Orakian, meaning she fights with knives and needlers and cannot use techniques. Although her first encounter with Ayn is as an enemy, she eventually joins him on his quest.
Nial (Lane in the Japanese version) is the main character if Rhys marries Lena, is the prince of the kingdoms of Landen and Satera. When unknown monsters invaded the kingdom of Satera, slaying Lena's father, King Rhys sends Nial, along with Wren and Mieu, to investigate. It turns out to be an assault by a Layan general named Lune, who has launched a full-scale assault on all Orakians. Like his father, he can use swords, knives, and needlers, but cannot use techniques.
Ryan is the leader of the defensive line against Lune, despite being a Layan. He originally believes Nial to be an ally of Lune, but after the Layan general shows up to taunt them, he realizes that both Nial and him possess the same goal and joins Nial's party.
Laya (Laia in the Japanese version), is the younger sister of the legendary figure of the same name and the queen of the Kingdom of Mystoke. After Nial awakens her from a thousand-year cryogenic sleep, she joins him in the hopes of finding out what became of her sister, who she remembers leaving with a warrior carrying a black sword. She is an expert technique-user and wields the same bow her older sister once used. If the player follows the path of Ayn or Aron, Laya joins the party in the third generation.
Alair (Luise in the Japanese version) is Lune's sister who awoke with him from cryogenic sleep. During Lune's assault on the Orakian kingdoms, the kingdom of Divisia captured and imprisoned her. After being rescued by Nial, she immediately left to persuade Lune to stop his rampage.
Sean, the main character if Ayn marries Thea, is the Prince of Azura who lives on the moon with his parents until the satellite is attacked by Siren and collapses. Sean escapes with Mieu and Wren and embarks on a quest to stop Siren and save his people. Being 3/4 Layan, he lacks the physical powers of the other scions, but trades it for high technique proficiency.
Crys (Noin in the Japanese version) is the main character if Ayn marries Sari. He lives in Landen until it is discovered that the world has suddenly shifted off course and is heading directly towards a nearby sun. His quest is to determine a way to restore the planet to its normal path and save his people from certain destruction. Crys is physically the strongest of the third-generation scions due to being 3/4 Orakian but, as a result, knows few techniques and has no healing powers.
Aron (Ruin in the Japanese version) is the main character if Nial marries Alair. He lives on the satellite Dahlia with his parents, his uncle Lune, and his cousin Kara. At the beginning of his quest, his people come into contact with a ship called the Neo Palm, but witness its destruction at the hands of unknown forces. He leaves the satellite with Kara, Mieu and Wren to investigate the mysterious attack. Aron, 1/2 both Orakian and Layan, is good with a sword and knows several techniques. He is the only protagonist in the game with a unique walking sprite. The other descendants of Rhys simply have a palette swap of either Rhys' sprites or Lyle's sprites.
Adan (Fuin in the Japanese version) is the son of Laya and Nial and the prince of Landen, Satera, and Mystoke. When earthquakes ravage their kingdom, he and his twin sister, Gwyn, set out with Mieu and Wren to discover the origin of the tremors. Adan, being of equal Layan and Orakian ancestry, is skilled in both swordplay and techniques.
Gwyn (Laia in the Japanese version) joins her brother on the quest to find the source of the earthquakes after having a nightmare. She can peer into the future through her dreams. Gwyn also inherits her mother's healing techniques and her skill with a bow.
Kara (Luna in the Japanese version) is the daughter of Lune. Her appearance and abilities vary depending upon the story path chosen by the player. In the arcs of Sean and Crys, she is an embittered warrior, and due to her father's apparent unwillingness to fight, joins them in the quest to find the true origin of the conflict. Despite being a full-blooded Layan, Kara is not skilled in the use of techniques. Instead she relies on her father's legendary slicer to aid her in combat. In the arcs of Aron and Adan, she is mild-mannered and delicate. Unlike her counterpart, she is a skilled technique user, but is also effective with a slicer.
King Cille is Maia's father and Ruler of the Layan Land named "Cille". He is the final boss of Rhys' story.
Siren is an ancient android who once fought alongside Orakio. After a thousand years, he has continued to nurse a deep hatred for all Layans. He commands a massive army of cyborgs, his goal being the complete extermination of Laya's clan. He is the final boss of Ayn's arc.
Lune was a general of Laya's forces. After his banishment by Orakio, Lune cryogenically froze himself for one thousand years. Upon awakening, he immediately began assembling an army of monsters in order to attain his revenge against the Orakians. His attack on Satera marked the beginning of a campaign to destroy all Orakian kingdoms. He is therefore the final boss in Nial's arc.
Miun is an ancient Mieu-type cyborg who once fought alongside Orakio, along with Siren. Heavily damaged from an unknown conflict, she now randomly wanders around the desert of Aridia, kept functional only by her desire to see Orakio one more time. Her memories are damaged, but she clearly recalls Orakio's sword. When one of the third-generation heroes approaches her with the sword in their possession, she believes them to be Orakio himself. Having seen him again, she shuts down, passing on her legendary claw to Mieu.
Rulakir is Orakio's twin brother. His own family was killed long ago during the wars, and his hatred has kept him alive all this time. Consumed by darkness, he bars the player's path to the final confrontation.
Dark Force is the evil from legends. Trapped under the waters of Landen by Orakio's sword, the protagonist frees him wholly when he recovers the sword, and must destroy him to release Alisa III from his terror.
Praise was given to Phantasy Star III for its unique "generational" gameplay and characters. Others thought it was just too "different" in style from its peers. Critics cite the only subtle differences between the endings, lower quality battle animations, and the fact that it did not resolve the perceived cliffhanger ending of Phantasy Star II. Still, it maintains above average ratings, with an overall score of 70% on the aggregate site GameRankings.
Computer Gaming World in 1991 praised the game's graphics and its "plenty of plot twists and turns". The magazine concluded that it was "a rewarding epic tale which should be told on every Genesis system". The game was reviewed that year in Dragon #176 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 4 out of 5 stars. They noted that they "didn't like it as much as Phantasy Star II" but still praised Phantasy Star III for being "creative in many ways," including the choices of who to marry, the different possible endings, and the "longer play life" that this allows. Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the game a score of 8 out of 10. Nintendo Power named it the series' "lackluster third installment" and noted that series co-creator Rieko Kodama did not work on it. The game's icon-based menu system later inspired a similar menu system in Shining in the Darkness (1991).
A well-known trick can be found at the start of the game. Before meeting Maia and setting the wedding sequence in motion, if the player acquires and uses an Escapipe while Rhys is locked in the dungeon, all will be as it was before the kidnapping. However, the story will not advance and the player cannot leave the town. The King will say "You used your Escapipe! Normally a smart move, but now I'm afraid the game can't be continued. Please press the reset button and try again." Since the player starts out with no meseta, Rhys' boots have to be sold in order to buy the Escapipe.
- Nekic, Bob (1991-07-14). "Phantasy Star III is out". Newsgroup: rec.games.video. Retrieved 2012-07-25.
- Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia & Lesser, Kirk (December 1991). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (176): 57–62.
- MegaTech rating, EMAP, issue 5, page 78, May 1992
- "Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom". GameRankings. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
- Taylor, Matt (November 1991). "Can Computer Gamers Convert to Cartridges?". Computer Gaming World. p. 70. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
- Editors of Nintendo Power: Nintendo Power February 2009; issue 2 (in English). Future US Inc, 39-42. Retrieved February 1, 2010.
- Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia & Lesser, Kirk (February 1992). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (178): 57–64.
- Mega magazine issue 1, page 76, Future Publishing, Oct 1992