Monday, February 13, 2012

Game 1: Phantasy Star (SMS) - Finished!

My plan to quickly finish this up in a couple of hours by quickly locating the Laerma Nut, and dashing on over to Lassic to tromp him spiraled into another 8 hours of play time.

First thing first, I knew I needed to find this nut. It was said to reach Lassic's castle in the clouds is beyond the reach of spaceships, and a Laerma Nut could cause some cats to fly. The nut eluded me during my search with the Ice Digger, so I traversed the dungeons once more in search of an exit I missed that would take me to an unexplored area. This trend was halted near the end thanks to a viewer mentioning that the tree was truly found with the Ice Digger, and hinted at its location. It must have been the only area I didn't search.
The ever elusive Laerma Tree. I thought it'd be more of a puzzle, but no, just use torch & get nuts.
Nuts in tow, I quickly run off, kill Lassic, and win. Again, this plan failed as I underestimated the size of the final dungeons. It turned into a test of patience as I stumbled across the crystal from the soothsayer, and found no other way through. I swore (once again) that I searched everywhere in Baya Malay without a clue to finding Lassic. I took a break for dinner, had a second look at my video (this time mapping it thoroughly), and noticed a small section I hadn't explored. So, I loaded up the game only to be met with a dead end. A second break, and I consulted the instruction manual for any hints.

I found it! In the description for the TRAP spell: "...disarm traps in Treasure Chests and dungeons." With the hint of an armor on the far side of a pit, I realized crossing pits safely is possible, and this is how it's done. Too spent to go back for the armor I pressed on. With this last piece of the puzzle, it was only a matter of attrition before I reached the end. At the top of Baya Malay, it's an easy matter of using the Prism to see Lassic's getaway, use the Nuts to have Myau fly, and reach Lassic.
The view was worth the climb...
Of course, it's not that easy. There's no way to heal in the middle of all this, and there's another full dungeon before getting to Lassic. Being greatly over-leveled, I imagined it going a different way than it did. Lassic's power was surprising: his attack damages everyone for a about 40 HP. First attempt met with disaster. Second attempt went a little better, having actually defeated Lassic, but everyone died except Alis. I'd spent all my MP, and with throwing away my only Transer, I was stuck on his floating city. With no way out, I reloaded the game, went back to town, and stocked up on healing items in order to save MP. This time he went down easily.

Rejoice! Back to the Governor to tell him the good news! Well, bad news, the Governor is missing and we fall into a pit trap as soon as we enter his house. This final dungeon is a simple affair compared to the previous labyrinth of Baya Malay. On the final floor, there are no obvious doors. Searching for a secret door, I'm lucky enough to locate one that leads to the very last fight: an enemy called Dark Falz. His HP doesn't show, and he attacks twice for 60 HP each hit. Forgetting to save just outside his door on my second attempt at this fight, I decide to save at the beginning for this collection's save state capability, and only reloaded if I was wiped. There's not much difference I think, and on my third try he goes down.

We free the Governor who tells us all is well again. In fact, he's discovered Alis has royal lineage, and offers us the crown for the galaxy. I accepted and Alis became queen of the Algol System. The end. Not too bad a way to wrap up the adventure (if a little strange), but that may explain why Lassic killed Nero as an heir to the throne. Rather than the more mundane "sniffing around" business. In fact, we never really knew what Lassic was "really up to," but at this point it doesn't much matter.
Was Lassic Alis' father? The Star Wars tropes continue...
Having beaten the game, I wrote up a list of questions I was curious about, and set off in search of answers inside walkthroughs and FAQs. Below are those questions, and answers I found:

  1. How do I use the Crystal against Lassic, it wouldn't work? This works automatically. Without it, Lassic's attack instantly kills the party.
  2. Is the Mirror Shield actually useful for Medusa, she seemed like a pushover? Yes, without it, her attacks instantly kill one member. With it, she is indeed a pushover.
  3. What happens if I let Dr. Mad have Myau? He instantly kills Myau, and the battle starts anyway.
  4. Is there a use for the empty building in Gothic? None that I could find.
  5. In the prison is someone who mentions having a friend in Bortevo I should visit, is there a use for this? None that I could find.
  6. Is there a point in giving Cola to the man in Sopia? None that I could find.
Tight... what? Is this an insult?
Some other notes I found interesting:

  • Max Mesetas is 65535. I find it funny whenever I see this; less funny when it rolls over to 0. Overflow caused many glitches in games (and still does); it seems it's guarded against in this game, but still funny to think the party gets to a certain point and say, "no thanks, we have enough gold now."
  • Monster ATK and DEF will rise with character level (HP remains the same), which explains why even beginning enemies were hitting me for 10 - 15 HP. I'm guessing this was a first, as the only other game I know of that did this was Oblivion.
  • The compass, in addition to allowing access to Eppi, is useful in dungeons for finding the cardinal direction the party is facing. I hadn't thought of this, although there's not much use in knowing, as there's no spinner traps or any ways to become disoriented (knowing which way is north in a dungeon isn't much help if you don't know which way is out).
  • Running away is not possible if your back is against a wall, door, or stairs, and there's no path to the sides. This is something I inferred after a while, but it's interesting to see the game take this into account.

This last session really drained my enthusiasm for this game; while technically innovative with animated attacks and pseudo-3D dungeons, the game itself was very basic, and getting lost drained hours away in monotony. The story and hints help you figure out fairly easily what you should do next, but it's not always explained how. Without the instruction manual, this game would go on for a long time until I broke down and tried everything I could on the pit trap. As a first game to set the bar though, I probably couldn't have picked a better title. It's very middle of the road and a good measuring stick for now.


  1. Congrats on finishing the game. Up and onward! ;)

  2. Nice. Interesting to see you grinding fatigue at the end of the game-- It sounds like they need a lot more in-game direction and a lot less grinding.

    1. Yes, grinding fatigue. I think at some point the fun had run out, and all that was left was to reach the end. Beyond getting armor after recruiting my 3 party members there wasn't any intentional grinding on my part. I was lost for so long that it just kind of happened.

      Really, there wasn't much reason for the long final dungeon except to extend play time since it doesn't add anything to the story. The challenge is increased a bit, but the same effect could be had with stronger enemies blocking the path.

  3. Yeah, the game starts to be too repetitive near the end. Dungeon after dungeon… At some moment I was sick of fights and consulted walkthrough to beat the game as fast as possible. But it took me almost 2 months to complete, usually my sessions took 1-2 hours each so it was expected. And I have to confess that I have been lost in the Baya Malay dungeon. At the top level I have mistaken 2 exits as separate passages to the different parts of the dungeon and I was continuing trip till the 27th stairs. At some point I have noticed that the design of the last levels is very similar to the ones from the very beginning. Eventually I have found out my mistake but being exhausted by numerous fights I have resigned to carefully check all levels and consulted walkthrough. And increasing monsters’ ATK and DEF along with characters’ level is very frustrating. All my characters reached max level but still got 10+ damage from scorpions.

    1. I don't recall monster levels matching character levels, but I wouldn't put it past the combat to have a few bugs. That loop sounds rough, and I'm glad I didn't fall into it. I can't blame you for looking up a walkthrough after putting up with that. I too only have a small amount of time each night to play, so I understand valuing your time.

  4. I would have sworn blind that the original Master System release didn't have scaling enemies. I had charts of their attack and defence and everything.
    But back then the idea that they *might* scale wouldn't have occurred to me, so maybe I'm wrong?

  5. Lol, I think the "friend" in Bortevo is the cranky guy who says, "Bortevo is my turf, now git!"
    But yes, so many quirks in the game... Miki breaking the 3rd wall, the cake shop in the cave, the lying Dezorians, the spider in jail... it's all so great.

    1. That could very well be. It is a bit quirky. I wonder how many of these might be localization changes.