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 lard pirates dawt cawm  §  The Spoony Playthrough v2: Phantasy Star IV: End of the Millennium Part 1 / by Spoony Spoonicus
 the waggoner  §  articles and general riff-raff exceeding your expectations of worthlessness.
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 ~Spoony Spoonicus on 12:28pm 02/26/12 (04:02pm 02/02/09) in 4h18m30s  §  29631 eyeballs
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 Now with more game!
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Yeah, the definitive chapter in my all-time favorite RPG series gets a playthrough now that I've managed to find a screen capture program that doesn't suck copious amounts of ass. Doesn't get the most consistent frame rate, but I blame that on my aging PC.

So why is it my favorite series? Three simple reasons.

  • It pioneered a lot of things that wouldn't become popular until later games *COUGHfinalfantasy* copycatted them. Remember how shocked everyone was when Aeris got killed? Well, Phantasy Star also killed off a major character midway through the game - eight years earlier. Remember all those dark, vaguely cyberpunk JRPGs that came out in the Playstation Era? Phantasy Star II beat them to the punch. Unlike most RPGs, which just had scrolling bars to text narrating the battles or blinking sprites to symbolize throwing magic at you, Phantasy Star's enemies had actual animation frames. Hell, some series (Dragon Warrior, Shin Megami Tensei) wouldn't implement more than the minimum for battle animations until the 00's rolled around. It was even ahead of the game in the cinematic presentation front - PSIV had some nifty manga-styled cutscenes before full-motion videos became the standard, as you'll see shortly.

    Oh, and Chrono Trigger's combination moves? Yeah, Phantasy Star IV had those first.

  • Perhaps realizing that having to tap a button to plow through random encounters all the time got pretty damn tedious after a while, Sega expedited the process somewhat by including programmable auto-battle options. Phantasy Star II and III had the ability to set your character's moves before beginning a round, and they'd repeatedly do those attacks and spells until manually stopped. Phantasy Star IV includes a neat feature called "Macros", which allows you to pick what you want each character to do for one turn and save it to one of ten slots for later use. That way, when a battle comes up and you want to cast some buffer spells, all you have to do is hit the button twice instead of 10+ times. I'm amazed that this is still one of the few series' to do something like this.

  • There's nary a bad game in the series. Final Fantasy's entire history has been fairly hit-or-miss, and even my other favorites (Suikoden and Ultima) have had their sour entries. Phantasy Star remained innovative, fun and challenging right up to the end, and they knew it better to conclude a series on a high note than whore it out until it became an old, tired laughing stock. Just a pity they couldn't convince Sonic Team to take the same route with their namesake franchise.

    Well okay, that's not totally true; Phantasy Star III's gameplay and presentation definitely needed some serious work. That said, the game did have an enjoyable storyline, even if it had little connection to the other games in the series.

If you want to check out the series, your best bet is to grab Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for the XBox 360 or Playstation 3, as it's the first North American release to actually have all four games on one compilation, and it only took them fourteen years! If you don't have either of those systems, you can also check out Sega Genesis Collection on the PS2 or PSP (which lacks the first game) or Phantasy Star Collection on the Game Boy Advance (which lacks 4).

If you have the means to play imports, the PS2's Sega Ages 2500 Volume 32: Phantasy Star Collection is also a good bet, as it has not only the first four games (in both Japanese and English), but even the lesser known Game Gear and Phantasy Star II Text Adventure spinoffs as hidden bonuses (in Japanese only, sadly).

Sega Ages 2500 Volumes 1 and 17 are enhanced remakes of Phantasy Star I and II, though they're also only in Japanese.

But enough of this; my blathering probably isn't what you came here to see. On with the playthrough!


Behold the intro in all its 16-bit glory:

A brief rundown of the events in Phantasy Star II there, as well as some rather cryptic text, the meaning of which won't become apparent until close to the end of this game. We also get a brief shot of our game's four major protagonists, but I'll introduce them as they come along.


Alright, just so I don't have to eat up server bandwidth with 8,000,000 screenshots, I'll just snap the important stuff and type out all the generic text.

You'd better put your heart into it!
So... I'm not a trainee anymore.
From this day on, you are a full-fledged partner! Now come on, let's go!
Where are we off to this time?
It's a bit far. We're going to Motavia Academy in the town of Piata.
Wow! So we're going to the town of learning! I wonder what's happened there?
Who knows? The message said, 'Just come.' We'll get the details once we're there.


Since we're going to be there anyway, I'd sure like to tour the Academy.
Is that all you can think about? Get moving or I'll leave you behind!

It appears that in spite of its name, the game takes place about a quarter of the way into the millennium. But then, "End of the Century" just doesn't have as nice a ring to it.


Well, now is as good a time as any to introduce our protagonists.

Chaz Ashley, the game's central protagonist and a fledgling Hunter. As you might expect, he's good at a little bit of everything - decent with both offensive and defensive techniques, and he gets some pretty powerful physical skills to boot. He can equip knives, shields and two-handed swords. I much prefer the latter, as they provide the best offense and a bit of defense for good measure.

Alys Brangwin, Chaz's mentor who has gained high recognition as a hunter, being labeled the "Eight Stroke Warrior." She wields bladed boomerangs called "slashers", which hit all enemies on the screen at the same time. She also has some decent offensive skills.


I've got to find her!

Chaz, ya lovable dope.

Well, at least this grants us an opportunity to talk to people and get a bit more plot exposition in.

* About a month ago, monsters began to appear in the basement. I'm so frightened, I can't even think about my research!

* You're the Hunter commissioned by the Principal? A kid like you?! Are you going to be able to handle it?

As well as encounter some delightfully cheesy commentary.

She was less than twenty feet away this whole time and you thought you were lost? Really now, Chaz.

After a moment of getting chewed out for wandering off, we move on to speak to the Principal.

The first of the aforementioned manga scenes. I read somewhere that Sega actually added more panels to the North American release, but I haven't confirmed that yet.

I'm the principal of this academy. Let's see, you must be Alys, the hunter, and you are her assistant, Chaz.
Forgive me, but Chaz is a full-fledged partner of mine. Now, let's get down to business. Describe the situation.

It appears that they have made the basement their headquarters. I've since closed it off. So far no one's been hurt, but who knows when they'll appear again? Please, I beg you to destroy all those creatures! Ah... I'd like to settle this matter discreetly, I'm counting on your reputation, Alys.
No problem. You can rely on us. Although, it's strange that all these monsters suddenly appeared in this academy. Usually monsters don't come in to inhabited areas. Do you have any idea how this happened?

Stop asking questions. Just hurry and exterminate those monsters! Don't forget, I'm paying you dearly for your services!


Something smells fishy here. That principal was hiding something.
Maybe he's afraid of the monsters?
I think there's more to it than that. Things are starting to get interesting!


Well, we could go straight to the basement, but let's get a bit more exposition in.

* Apparently, a thousand years ago there were ships that could travel through space. Today, the only thing we can do is view Dezolis through a telescope. Ah! Just once, I would love to go to Dezolis.

* Once, there were three planets in the Algo solar system, but during the Great Collapse, the planet Parma was lost. Now only Dezolis and this planet remain.

* A thousand years ago, our society was thrown into confusion by the destruction of Mother Brain. After that, Motavia sustained a direct hit by a fragment of the exploding planet Parma. Our civilization was almost destroyed. We call this "the Great Collapse."

All of these refer to the events of Phantasy Star II.

Yeah, but they called him "Doctor Luveno" back then.

(A Phantasy Star I reference, by the way)

It looks like Motavia still has its share of problems, as several characters also mention the monster outbreaks and the destructive seismic activity of late.


Alright, moving on.

You don't think we can do the job?
No, no, not at all! I didn't mean that!
Since we have the Principal's permission, let us pass.
Wait! Take me with you!
Hmm. And why should we?

I am an assistant at this academy. I work for Professor Holt, who has gone to investigate Birth Valley for his research. We haven't heard from him since. So, now I am searching for the professor's whereabouts!
Birth Valley... that's that mysterious place that has been called the sacred valley of life.
But what's the connection between the valley and this current monster scare?
After the investigating team, led by the Professor, was reported missing, the principal barred everyone from entering Birth Valley! We're trying to get information as to what's going on, but he keeps evading the issue. And then this monster scare begins! I'll bet anything that there is some sort of connection between these incidents.
Well, it is true that there's something fishy about the principal's behavior.
Given the circumstances, I feel compelled to investigate the basement myself. But come to think of it, it is a bit dangerous...
So, you were just waiting for us to arrive?
Well, ah, yes. You catch on quick!

We'll take you with us for 100 Meseta. I hope you weren't thinking of asking to tag along with us for free?
Er... I can't get that kind of money from the principal...
That's not my problem. Now, what are you going to do?
...OK, I'll pay...

The first of many acts of extortion to come.


Anyway, we have a new party member.

Hahn Mahlay, the scholar. He's a bit on the weak side physically, with low HP and only being able to wield daggers and shields. However, he does have some decent offensive and support magic.

Useless trivia: He's one of the only two playable characters whose name is the same in both the Japanese and American versions of the game.


Down in the basement, we quickly spot a lone monster that runs off, and get into our first random encounters.

They're pretty standard early game fare; they can't really do more than single-digit damage and one or two solid blows will fell them. The two-headed ones are a bit tougher, but still nothing to worry about. Working our way through two floors full of these guys and a few minor treasures, we come to this:

Some kind of freaky genetics lab.

With a freaky monster on the loose!

Igglanova, the first real boss in the game. It's actually a pretty easy fight, as the boss will only create more Xanafalgues, and won't attack unless there are two alive when its turn comes up. So just have Alys use her Vortex skill to inflict heavy damage on Iggy, and Chaz and Hahn attack the Xanafalgues, and this fight should be over in a few turns.


We did it!
Chaz! You need more practice. Your swing is too slow!
What? But we destroyed the monster...
With my help...

Alys, ya buzzkill.

Now, Hahn? Come over here.
What are these glass containers for?
Hey, are you by any chance breeding monsters here? If that's the case, this monster business is no mystery after all!
I... I don't know anything! It's the first time I've been in this room! I've only just learned that such a thing exists at the academy!
Really, it's the truth!
I believe you... for now.
The principal must know about these containers!
He must also know the connection between this and the disappearance of Professor Holt.
Yes, let's see the principal again. C'mon Chaz!
Hey! Don't leave me here!


Wh..what's wrong? You seem upset. Were you able to defeat those monsters?
Yes, but there is something I want to ask you.
Is it just my imagination that I saw some strange things in the basement?

Someone keeping information from me is the sixth most dangerous thing in this world!
All right already... I'll tell you what I know. You are aware of the recent outbreak of a new breed of monster?
Oh yes. Thanks to the outbreak, I'm not hurting for work.
Three months ago, Holt identified Birth Valley as the origin of the outbreak, and he went to investigate... he says he discovered the remains of an ancient and advanced civilization! The investigation team brought back the monster breeding capsules, and immediately set forth on their second investigative mission. But...
Not one of them came back...
Yes, that's right Hahn.
And despite all this, you didn't send out a rescue team and banned entry to Birth Valley!
No, no! I... I was trying to send out a rescue team! But...
Something happened?
At that moment, a man who called himself 'Zio' appeared before my eyes...
Zio! I've heard of him. That fake magician!

how are you doing?
Who... who are you!?
My name is Zio. Zio the black magician. Do not intrude on Birth Valley.
What do you mean!?
In the future, if you ever let anyone set foot in Birth Valley...

Let me make something clear... there is no need for you to go to Birth Valley!
It's related to the research team!
So that's why the Birth Valley situation wasn't announced, and also why you tried to keep a lid on the monster situation. But... what is all this about? Remnants of an ancient advanced civilization and Zio?
It seems like these are signs of something to come.
I need to help the Professor! I'm going to Birth Valley!

This is egg-laying season for sand worms, so be careful.
Ah... Alys?
We'll tag along for 300 Meseta plus expenses.
Ah... deal! Birth Valley is to the northeast! Let's hurry!


Looks like Alys isn't going to let go of this nest egg, so we're off to investigate Birth Valley. That's it for this entry.


So far we've been introduced to Chaz Ashley, the central protagonist of our story, a fledgling Hunter and a bit of a putz. We've also encoutered Alys Brangwin, his mentor skilled in the art of extortion, and Hahn Mahlay, the rather wimpy scholar. We've also got the number of a shady character named Zio. Coming up next time, we'll encounter two new playable characters, including the first and only instance of a Motavian being a playable character in the series. Stay tuned!
 rawks  §  rad comments, dogg.
 ~Spoony Spoonicus  §  at 07:47pm 02/02/09
Bonus vid of the Zio scene:

 ~Spoony Spoonicus  §  at 02:56am 02/05/09
Update tomorrow if the Devil Cat doesn't keep trashing my room while I'm trying to sleep again.
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