Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom

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Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom
Phantasy Star III box US.jpg
Box art for the North American release
Developer(s)Sega
Publisher(s)Sega
Director(s)Hiroto Saeki
Hirokazu Yasuhara
Producer(s)Kazunari Tsukamoto
Yuji Naka
Designer(s)Hirondo Saiki
Artist(s)Saru Miya
Writer(s)Hiroto Saeki
Yang Watt
Composer(s)Izuho Numata
SeriesPhantasy Star
Platform(s)Mega Drive/Genesis
Release
Genre(s)Role-playing video game
Mode(s)Single-player

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.

Gameplay[edit]

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.[2]

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.

Plot[edit]

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.

Development[edit]

Development of Phantasy Star III lasted just one year, very short compared to earlier entries and made more difficult due to its grand scale.[3] In an interview regarding the game's narrative, producer Kazunari Tsukamoto described Phantasy Star III as being similar to a collection of side stories when compared to the connected narrative of its predecessor and the sequel Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium. This and its altered graphic style was due to the team being different from earlier Phantasy Star entries.[4] Hirondo Saiki acted as game designer.[3] The game's multiple endings proved difficult to implement due to data storage limitations. The branching narrative and gameplay paths were added to set the game apart from other role-playing games (RPGs) due to the crowded market at the time.[4] The game was the first time designers and programmers came together as a team rather than separate units, but Saiki became fatigued during development of the game's later stages due to being sole designer. In order to realise the planned scale of the world, several portions of the narrative needed to be cut.[3] Character designs and the cover art were done by Saru Miya, who remembered experiencing great hardships with the project, describing it as something which she considered a "home-spun" project.[5] The music for Phantasy Star III was composed by Izuho Numata. Numata had only been at Sega for two years when she was called into a meeting of senior Phantasy Star staff. When told that she would be composing the game's score, she froze in shock. The project was challenging due to her complete lack of experience with RPGs.[6]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Review scores
PublicationScore
AllGame3.5/5 stars[7]
MegaTech89%[8]

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.[9]

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".[10] 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.[2] Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the game a score of 8 out of 10.[9] Nintendo Power named it the series' "lackluster third installment" and noted that series co-creator Rieko Kodama did not work on it.[11] The game's icon-based menu system later inspired a similar menu system in Shining in the Darkness (1991).[12]

The only downside according to MegaTech magazine was that "it costs a massive £50!" Mega placed the game at #12 in their Top Mega Drive Games of All Time.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nekic, Bob (1991-07-14). "Phantasy Star III is out". Newsgrouprec.games.video. Retrieved 2012-07-25.
  2. ^ a b Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia & Lesser, Kirk (December 1991). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (176): 57–62.
  3. ^ a b c ファンタシースターの世界 ~ファンタシースターを作った人たち~ [World of Phantasy Star: The People Who Made Phantasy Star] (in Japanese). Tokuma Shoten. 1993. pp. 62–65. ASIN B00JHXK5G0.
  4. ^ a b Tzukamoto, Kazunari (November 7, 2006). Sega Genesis Collection Bonus DVD. Sega.
  5. ^ ファンタシースター公式設定資料集 [Phantasy Star Official Setting Book Collection] (in Japanese). SoftBank Creative. 1995. p. 37. ISBN 4-8354-5534-7.
  6. ^ "Phantasy Star – Composer Retrospective". Shmuplations. Archived from the original on September 30, 2018. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  7. ^ Cuson, Chris. "Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom". AllGame. Archived from the original on 2014-11-14. Retrieved February 10, 2018.
  8. ^ MegaTech rating, EMAP, issue 5, page 78, May 1992
  9. ^ a b "Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom". GameRankings. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  10. ^ Taylor, Matt (November 1991). "Can Computer Gamers Convert to Cartridges?". Computer Gaming World. p. 70. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  11. ^ Editors of Nintendo Power: Nintendo Power February 2009; issue 2 (in English). Future US Inc, 39-42. Retrieved February 1, 2010.
  12. ^ Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia & Lesser, Kirk (February 1992). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (178): 57–64.
  13. ^ Mega magazine issue 1, page 76, Future Publishing, Oct 1992