IroIro Retro Emporium Logo\\

Phantasy Star II

While lots of other developers were creating RPGs with a fantasy theme in the late 80s, Sega decided to go in a different direction. Sure, there were Dragon Quests and Final Fantasies with dragon slaying a-plenty, but Sega gave us Phantasy Star and embraced the world of science fiction instead. The first game turned a lot of heads on the Master System. It was very well put together with interesting monsters to fight, multiple planets to explore, and an engaging story. There was a lot to like about it. So, when the game got a sequel on the Mega Drive, people paid attention, as folks were curious what it would be like on this next generation system.

What resulted was an even grander adventure with a large cast of characters as they travelled the Algo Star System. Taking place 1,000 years after the events of the first Phantasy Star, this game followed the adventures of Rolf and his companions. Their mission was to figure out what was wrong with Mother Brain, the computer controlling most aspects of daily life for citizens of the star system. It was malfunctioning, and this caused environmental hazards to erupt as well as strange bio monsters to emerge on the various worlds. Not good. With that, Rolf was joined by his friend Nei, and later six other characters on a huge journey to deal with all of these problems. As time passed, more mysteries emerged, and players began to see more and more connections between this sequel and the original game.

It had a very engaging story for the time between all that was happening and the game’s ability to shroud the past in an air of mystery. Meanwhile, the large cast of characters allowed players to become attached to each of them, especially Nei for very specific reasons. Even the ending had a neat surprise that got people talking after they finished it. While the original Phantasy Star had an engaging, elaborate story, its sequel managed to do even better.

Meanwhile, Phantasy Star II looked and sounded great. Being Sega’s first RPG on their new 16-bit console, the company went out of its way to wow players. The over world, cities, and dungeons all had vibrant colors that caught the eye. Also, battles featured detailed artwork for the enemies and party members. The game looked really good for the time. On top of this, it had a catchy soundtrack. Music had a futuristic feel to it thanks to the tones that the Mega Drive’s sound chip was capable of making. As a result, the music felt very appropriate for the science fiction setting of Phantasy Star II.

Revisiting the game today, one will quickly notice that combat is very much rooted in the era that Phantasy Star II came out in. The game has frequent random, turn-based battles. When a fight breaks out, it’s the typical menu-driven system one would expect from a JRPG of the late 80s or early 90s. Give each character a command between simply attacking, using magic (“Techniques” as they’re called here), using an item, defending one’s self, or running away. It’s straightforward stuff, but happens constantly. Couple this with huge, labyrinthine dungeons and players are going to spend a lot of time repeating similar battles over and over again.

Things are slightly streamlined by a simplistic auto-battle system whereby players choose to “Fight” rather than going with “Strategy”. The former simply has everyone perform basic attacks with their weapons until enemies are dead or the player interrupts the process. The latter takes players into the sub-menus to manually input commands. “Fight” basically gives players the option of putting down their controller and letting the computer do the battles instead. However, it does nothing to speed up the battles that players are constantly engaged in.

If players can get over the wave upon wave of battles, Phantasy Star II is a wonderful RPG. Science fiction themed RPGs have always been less common than their fantasy counterparts, and this game is one of the better ones to come along from the 16-bit era. Those who have never played a game in the series and want to give it a try could do worse that start out with this game. It’s a lot of fun.

- IroIro
March 21, 2019

Platform: Genesis / Mega Drive
Genre: Role-Playing
Developer: SEGA
Publisher: SEGA
Released: March 21, 1989

Phantasy Star II Image 1
Phantasy Star II Japanese Box Art

Phantasy Star II Screenshot 1
Opening town

Phantasy Star II Screenshot 2
The game's battle screen

Phantasy Star II Screenshot 3
Lutz was a recurring character in the series