Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium - Reader Re-Retroview  

The Final Generation
by Prince Jeremy, Duke of Otterland

12-24 Hours


Rating definitions 

   The Algo Solar System was once home to a brilliant civilization, where art and science flourished, until disaster struck: Mother Brain, a system-wide management system, was destroyed, along with the planet Parma and ninety percent of the system's population, after which the system's advanced culture declined. A thousand years later, civilization is again on the rise, with people rediscovering the ancient culture, although an ancient evil stirs. Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium, was the last of the Sega RPG series released on the Genesis, which proves to be a great swan song for the series before its shift years later towards online gameplay.

   Like its predecessors, Phantasy Star IV features randomly-encountered turn-based battles, which, throughout the series, have been fairly fast-paced. The fourth installment continues this trend, with normal battles rarely lasting more than half a minute. Players can manually input commands for each character including normal attacks, defense, magic spells that consume TP, skills with a fixed number of uses, and items, or, outside of battle, set up a variety of macros where the party of up to five characters executes certain commands in an order specified by the player. Macros are sometimes necessary to get multiple characters to execute combination attacks, which are generally more powerful than normal skills. It's a good battle system overall, with some decent boss challenges throughout the game, and only a few minor flaws like the typical ignorance as to when enemies will take their turns, but otherwise, there isn't much to complain about here.

   The interface and menus are easy to navigate, although there are some minor irritations such as a cap on inventory space, a lack of spell and skill descriptions, and ignorance as to how equipment affects your characters' stats before buying it. Still, Phantasy Star IV is the kind of RPG you can play without a walkthrough, with a decent idea throughout the game on how to advance, and there are numerous Hunter's Guild missions players can take for extra money and items. Overall, interaction is more than passable.

Approaching a planet Space travel

   It's always difficult to judge originality in sequels, though Phantasy Star IV does contain enough features to feel different from its predecessors, such as macros, the guild mission system, and combination attacks, predating Chrono Trigger with this feature by a few years. All in all, while the fourth installment does contain features similar to and references to its predecessors, it's still original in its own right.

   The story was decent for its time, with some background on many of the characters and a reasonably-developed main plot, although the high point of the storyline is perhaps the anime cutscenes that frequently narrate plot scenes, which in effect make the story more interesting than it would've been without them. There are certainly some parts that could've used more development, although the plot is one of the main draws to the game.

   The soundtrack contains a lot of good tracks, some being remixes of tunes from the original Phantasy Star, which largely accomplishes its goal and fits the game's atmosphere, even if the quality of a few tracks, such as the shopping theme, does leave a little to desire. The graphics are nice, as well, with reasonable colors and diversity in its environments as well as anatomically-correct character sprites, even if these sprites don't show much emotion, something which the anime cutscenes, however, accomplish nicely. Overall, Phantasy Star IV both looks and sounds great.

   Finally, the game isn't terribly lengthy, taking somewhere from twelve to twenty-four hours to complete, with the guild missions and extra dungeons in particular increasing playing time. Overall, Phantasy Star IV was a fitting end to the series on the Sega Genesis, with just about all its features, save perhaps for interaction, being all-around solid. To this day, it's still perhaps the best of the series, albeit largely forgotten, along with its predecessors, by Sega's current management.

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