Thursday, December 18, 2014

Game 32: Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom (Genesis) - Who's First

Game 32

Title: Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom
Released: July 1991 (April 1990 JPN)
Platform: Genesis
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega
Genre: RPG
Exploration - Top-down
Combat - Turn based
Series - Phantasy Star

All great stories happen every 1,000 years
Phantasy Star has been on the decline overall since the second game, and this--according to some--continued that trend. The third game in as many years, and the lack of polish is starting to show in significant areas. Turned out, this wasn't a terrible game, but merely a terrible Phantasy Star. The music was great, but everything else was a bit underwhelming. I didn't have the manual, so I had to figure out who could use what equipment and what certain techniques affected, but I don't think adversely influenced my opinion.
This is later described as a seemingly minor event; I'm not sure someone washing up on the beach is minor
The main hook for this title was the ability to play through three generations. The game always begins with Rhys, a descendant of the great Orakio who fought against the witch Laya. Many were killed in that war 1,000 years ago, but the final whereabouts of Orakio and Laya were never confirmed (pretty sure they're dead by now). At the end of the Rhys' adventures he has to decide between two women to select as his wife. His son will then have the same choice (different women), and again have a son that will lead the final attack against Dark Force. Yes, Dark Force is back.

Who thought yellow text on a white flare would be easy to read?
A mysterious woman washed up on the shore near the kingdom of Landen, home to Rhys. Within two months, Rhys decided he would marry this woman who can't remember anything prior to her arrival in Landen (except her name was Maia). The game began with Maia waiting in the castle for Rhys on their wedding day. There's actually a bit of an Easter egg at the beginning: if you sell Rhys' armor to buy an escapipe and use it in the first dungeon, the game gets locked in an unplayable state. The king comments on how the player made a mistake, and needs to restart the game.
Rhys started in town with little purpose. An NPC blocked the exit, and without any funds (called  meseta) the only option was to head north towards the castle. I explored anyway, and found the peasants were too excited about the wedding to talk. They rushed me off to the castle.
It might even be today when you're kidnapped by a monster
At the castle, Rhys spoke to Maia briefly about the excitement of their wedding day, and how strange it was that she mysteriously appeared just two months ago. Rhys escorted her to in front of the king, and the ceremony began promptly.
After Rhys said his vows, the traditional kidnapping of the bride took place
Isn't it strange that Maia couldn't remember anything about herself, but everyone knew her name? During the ceremony, a monster identified as one from the Layan kingdom kidnapped Maia. Rhys proclaimed he would search to no end to recover Maia, and he'd mobilize the army to wage war on a people not seen for 1,000 years. The king thought Rhys foolhardy, so he imprisoned him in the dungeon to cool off.
It's not a very well guarded dungeon
Cooling off in the dungeon really meant collecting the treasure chests  scattered in the cell before being released by a benevolent stranger. I followed a secret passage that led back to town. The castle was now sealed off due to mourning the loss of Maia. Lena didn't join the party however. Instead Rhys quested alone at this point. I bought a second knife (the first was in a chest), and some armor with the meseta I'd found in the chests. The town shops were full of equipment Rhys couldn't even use, and I had to figure out through trial and error what was worth the purchase.
Making small talk with the townsfolk
I gathered from everyone that I should seek the Sapphire that was taken by a monster to a cave to the south. That gem would allow me passage to an eastern cave. A city named Yaata was the south as well. I picked up a monitor in the dungeon, which worked as a map, and showed three globes. Unlike previous Phantasy Star games, the maps didn't wrap back on themselves. Instead, each area seemed contained by an impassable circle of mountains.
Got it... monsters don't really live, do they?
The town had a fortune teller, which I opted not to use for 10 meseta. In fact, I didn't use him all game, and don't really know what he'd say. There was also a technique shop that wasn't helpful at this point. Rhys had no techs. With nothing left to explore, I headed south to Yaata. Outside I had my first taste of combat.
I swear I'm only going to subdue you with these dual knives
So, that's the combat menu. It took a bit to decipher, but it's not too difficult (even without a manual). The left two advance through a combat rounds with auto on top (until interrupted) or a single turn on the bottom. Escaping is managed by the lower right icon, and a sub menu for individual commands is accessed through the top right. In there is the ability to target an attack, choose a tech to use, pick an item, or defend. Only attack and defend commands are continuously selected on subsequent rounds, the other two default back to attack. The majority of combat is easily managed by just attacking. Attack techniques aren't really worth it, but I'll cover that a bit more later.
Oh good, a boat
In the town of Yaata I met an old man who owned a boat. Apparently the cave I sought was on an island, but the boat's owner would only sail with a cyborg in the party. You'd think he would have one by now. Someone told me of the town of Ilan, so I stopped there next. Towns were mainly hubs for specific information, one maybe two pieces, and shops of course. In Ilan, I was told there was an odd woman that never blinked near a lake to the east.
Well fancy that, guess who I'm descended from
With the cyborg Mieu in tow, I took the ship to the island cave. The monsters there were bit overwhelming, and it took a couple of excursions to reach the end: mainly I had forgone healing items the first time, which come in the form of monomate, dimate, and trimate. Mieu had some healing power techniques, but very little tech points (TP) to spend on them. Each time I traveled to the island, the boat's captain thought it was good to point out a temple at the bottom of the lake said to seal a power called Dark Force trapped by Orakio's sword.
Uh... that was easy
After having the strangest conversation (in lieu of a fight) with a Layan named Lyle, I received the sapphire. With all the build up I received of a monster in this cave, I was expecting some kind of struggle. My way through the eastern cave was opened with the sapphire. On the way I found an old airstrip, which didn't allow me to enter, and an old temple with a scary booming voice that chastised me for entering Laya's palace. Noted for later.
Pretty cave... wait, somethings different
Rhys didn't blink at the sight of the technological marvel inside the cave, but I suppose when you have a cyborg next to you this stuff doesn't look very advanced. On the other side of the cave was a land driven into a deep winter. I found only a single town, Rysel, with everyone begging I set things right with the weather. Someone mentioned that a tower in Aridia held the key to correcting it, but no clue where that lay. A minstrel told of a legend that the people here were the last of a race that escaped Dark Force by sailing through the stars. That's nice, now where's Aridia?
Maybe my map will... Ah, there it is; now how do I get there?
I explored all that I could through the cold wasteland. I even went back to Landen, but still couldn't find a way to the southern circle. Turned out I missed a single character in Rysel on the second floor of the armor shop. Many of the buildings in town were empty, so thoroughly looking in each room became tedious. Seems it's necessary though to gather all the clues. This random man told me of a factory Orakio built to the south, and a hidden gate rumored to reside near the ruins.
It's actually slightly to the southwest of here, can't you see it?
Through another hi-tech cave I arrived in Aridia. Following the edge clockwise I came upon a tower I was much too weak to deal with. Rhys died in the first combat. Luckily Mieu escaped, and I found the Rever tech revived fallen comrades.
That was scary
Hazatak was the only town in this arid land of Aridia. The same shop owners lived here (or their relatives), but the rest of the town was populated by cyborgs. An old cyborg was said to wander the desert to the north, but my current destination was a cave to the west. There, I was to find Wren, and he would repair the weather control station.
So many caves to test
Wren was another cyborg, this time programmed as a technical systems and combat specialist. Again, getting through the cave took some time, but after gaining a few levels I managed to recruit Wren. I'm not sure why he was hiding in that cave that looked strangely like the one on Landen. I was told I could then repair the weather system in the tower; however, before I went to my death again, I checked out the combat techniques to find any that might be useful.
Between Wren and Mieu, they have all the techs in the game
Will any of these be useful outside of healing?
Fanbi and Shu were buffs, which might have helpful, but it was hard to tell. Nasak killed the Mieu and fully healed everyone else, a completely useless spell in my opinion. Forsa had a chance to banish 1 enemy, but honestly it's probably better for Mieu to just attack with dual claws. Foi, Zan, Gra, and Tsu are attack spells that vary in number of targets, but usually it's better to just attack since they are so weak, even after adjusting my tech power. Rimit, Shiza, and Deban are a bit cryptic, but probably not worth it either. Ner buffs speed, but again, I'm not sure how effective it was. In the end, it seemed best to always get in attacks rather than buff a single character.
The menu system is a bit basic
I picked up Lyle inside the tower, and as it turned out, he was on the same mission to fix the weather control system. He joined my party to thank me in advance for helping restore the proper weather back home. Fixing the system was as simple as speaking to it with Wren in my party. There's a switch option in the menu that reorders the party, but it only seems to affect the visual order while moving the party around, and wholly unnecessary. Battle order and how they appear in the menu never change. After fixing the weather, Lyle told me of a boat near Rysel, and he invited me to visit his homeland.
With four party members the tower was much easier, so I continued to explore and found a satellite system
Back in town I was told two stones were removed from the satellite control system. The Moon Tear, which Lyle had in his possession, and the Moon Stone, current location unknown. That caused two moons to drift apart. Returning the stones to the system would cause the moons to drift back. I'm not really sure why I needed to do that, but it was something to do, right? I made my way back to Rysel and found the boat nearby.
Landing in Lyle's homeland, his town was just north of here
The towns of Agoe and Shusoran have been at war. Seems Shusoran was a Layan town, and the Orakians of Agoe have been battling them for 1,000 years. The people of each nation use surrogates though; Layans have monsters, and Orakians use cyborgs and robots. The purpose of Agoe seemed to be to clue me in on a hidden passage through a fountain in Shusoran, and a young woman that was taken to the castle.
Yes, but we haven't in years because we lost the recipe
In Shusoran the Layan people looked exactly like Orakians, so my party fit in without any trouble. I learned of the town of Cille to the north that has been unreachable for 1,000 years because the sandbar that connected them disappeared with the moon. There's my reason for returning the moon. While the castle was sealed, I found a secret entrance in the town's fountain. It was a rather long dungeon with many monsters, so again it took a couple of excursions. At the end was the castle, which had even more monsters. As I rounded the corner of one long hallway, I saw a lone woman standing in the throne room; Rhys exclaimed, "It's her! How did she get here?"
No, this game doesn't really explain anything
Lyle said he found her and brought her there. He then left the party and stood by her side, or slightly in front of her, and challenged Rhys to duel to prove his strength. So, who was this woman I was fighting over? Lena. "Who's Lena?" I said audibly while playing.
Look, I hardly know her, I don't even remember her, so you can keep her
Which was... when? Oh wait, random girl from the dungeon!
It just so happened Shusoran was Lyle's castle, and when I proved myself, the monsters were removed. Lena held the Moon Stone, and I returned to Aridia to put the moons back in place. Maia was being held in Cille, which I could only get to by returning the land bridge. This complicated scenario was only possible because the boat I took to Agoe was not under my control, so sailing it north was out of the question.
The purple moon Dahlia returns... wait, I thought there were two moons
With the moon in place, the land bridge appeared (actually I had to investigate the right spot for it to suddenly appear). The people of Cille were very vocal about their distaste at the thought of Maia marrying an Orakian. I'm really not sure how they even knew when the people of Landen hadn't had any contact in over 1,000 years.
No! That's Orakio's last message
As you can see, Cille had more fountains. Eight in total, but only one led to the correct path into the castle. Exploring dungeon and castle was mostly uneventful aside from the constant barrage of monsters that sure seemed like they wanted to kill me. The king Cille denied my request to take back Maia (it may have been a demand), and attacked.
This fight was really simple, just attack
With the fight out of the way, I finally found Maia and could now take her back to Landen to wed. Actually, the king said I now had a choice between Maia and Lena. What? What!? If I chose Maia I'd rule Cille, but if I chose Lena, then I'd return to Landen.
Shining earring, or mysterious blue hair?
It was at this point that I realized the greatest weakness of this game. There's very little character depth. I felt so disconnected from every single character that I honestly didn't care which one Rhys married. Maia, a woman he'd known for two months, or Lena, a woman he'd known of all of maybe a day. Honestly, I felt a deeper connection to Mieu or the female shop owners.
Having a good night at the inn
Hello~~ nurse!
In the end, I had to choose someone, so I picked the woman that I'd spent the most time with during my adventure. Lena seemed strong, and I felt I didn't want to stir any bad blood if the people really didn't want an Orakian to taint the Layan line. It kind of made the whole adventure pointless, but the heart wants what the heart wants (or in this case, the randomness of chat polls). The union of Lena and Rhys united Satera and Landen, and resulted in the birth of a son named Nial.
18? Must be time to start my adventure
While standing around the throne room one day, king Rhys received a message from Lena's homeland, Satera. Monsters had invaded. Lena's father was dead. Rhys commanded Nial to investigate. Nial, who starts at level 1 was accompanied by Wren and Mieu, who retained their levels. Rhys' equipment was passed on, but all the levels I gained for Rhys, Lena, and Lyle were all for naught. I was afraid this might happen, and really didn't see a point in grinding if I was going to have to do it all over again.
Some foreshadowing
The rumor-mill churned out the name of Lune and his armies as the menace threatening the land. A bridge had been made to connect Landen with Satera, and I took it to the castle. It'd been devastated by an attack, but the main force was nowhere to be found. The only survivor mentioned a cave to the south as the source of the infestation.
The map had changed quite a bit, I guess I didn't have access to the Layans anymore
I made my way through the southern cave of technology, and found myself in the land on the left side of the map. To the south of the cave was the town of Divisia: cut in half by the castle, which held captive Lune's sister, Alair. Lune and Alair were in cryostasis for 1,000 years. Moving their home, the moon Dahlia, seemed to have awakened them.
Yeah, pretty cool huh; wanna get married?
I found it strange that the "cell" Alair was "held" in was completely unlocked, but who am I to argue with the master plan of those who thought it'd be good to kidnap the sister of a crazed lunatic. Alair ran back to her brother to try to convince him to stop, and that's the last I saw of her. I exited the castle and found the other half of the town. The next step was to visit a rebel army to the west.
Someone telling me what I should do after I found the rebels
This seems like a good place to cut. Again posts are falling behind, and I've already managed to complete this game... and the next (Tombs & Treasure). I'm considering taking some time off from playing to catch up with the blog a bit, and relax until next year. With the rate I've been posting though there shouldn't be an obvious gap. I hope everyone has a good end of the year. Also, another thank you to the fine folks that put together Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection.

Elapsed Time: 8h14m (Total Time: 8h14m)


  1. I completely forgot that I ever played this game. I remember Phantasy Star II well, but the choice in the direction of your bloodlines brings back memories (Good? Bad? Not sure). This game seems rather basic in the storytelling though, and if your screen shots tell me anything, is that the game really forces you in a certain path (i.e., you're not getting lost). Kind of sad, really, considering the greatness of its forebears.

    1. It definitely seems to have lost a lot of soul in this installment. One review noted that the series co-creator Rieko Kodama wasn't on the development team, so that could have contributed to the different feel.

  2. The only one I've played is Phantasy Star IV. This certainly has an interesting concept though.

    1. I'm looking forward to IV more than anything at this point because I've heard how much better it is. Can't wait to see what they do with it.

  3. You actually learn different plot elements down the different lines, IIRC. For example, if you marry Maia, you learn that Lyle was the monster from the beginning. He was also the monster mentioned in the cave.

    The game had decent music and an interesting gimmick, but it largely failed otherwise.

    1. Ah, I see. Maybe I should play through the other story lines eventually. I'll have the final post up shortly though, and I'm a bit eager to move on. It's funny how differently we play games when we have so many options available.