Phantasy Star

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Phantasy Star
Phantasy Star logo.png
Genre(s) Role-playing video game
Developer(s) Sega, Sonic Team
Publisher(s) Sega
Creator(s)Kotaro Hayashida, Yuji Naka, Rieko Kodama, Chieko Aoki [1]
First release Phantasy Star
December 20, 1987
Latest release Phantasy Star Nova
November 27, 2014

Phantasy Star(ファンタシースター,Fantashī Sutā) is a series of console role-playing video games and other supplementary media created by Sega. The series debuted in 1987 on the Master System with Phantasy Star , and continues into the present with Phantasy Star Online 2 and other extensions of the Phantasy Star Online sub-series. Each of the games in the series features a science fantasy setting featuring a cross-genre combination of magic and technology.

A role-playing video game is a video game genre where the player controls the actions of a character immersed in some well-defined world. Many role-playing video games have origins in tabletop role-playing games and use much of the same terminology, settings and game mechanics. Other major similarities with pen-and-paper games include developed story-telling and narrative elements, player character development, complexity, as well as replayability and immersion. The electronic medium removes the necessity for a gamemaster and increases combat resolution speed. RPGs have evolved from simple text-based console-window games into visually rich 3D experiences.

Sega Japanese video game developer and publisher and subsidiary of Sega Sammy Holdings

Sega Games Co., Ltd. is a Japanese multinational video game developer and publisher headquartered in Tokyo. Its international branches, Sega of America and Sega of Europe, are respectively headquartered in Irvine, California and London. Sega's arcade division, once part of Sega Corporation, has existed as Sega Interactive Co., Ltd., also a Sega Holdings subsidiary, since 2015.

Master System video game console

The Sega Master System (SMS) is a third-generation 8-bit home video game console manufactured by Sega. It was originally a remodeled export version of the Sega Mark III, the third iteration of the SG-1000 series of consoles, which was released in Japan in 1985 and featured enhanced graphical capabilities over its predecessors. The Master System launched in North America in 1986, followed by Europe in 1987, and Brazil in 1989. A Japanese version of the Master System was also launched in 1987, which has additional features over the Mark III and other regional variants of the console, namely a built-in FM audio chip, a rapid-fire switch and a dedicated port for the 3D glasses. A cost-reduced model known as the Master System II was released in 1990 in North America and Europe.


The first four games in the series are set in or related to the fictional planetary system of Algol, and are single-player RPGs. Later titles bearing the Phantasy Star name are for the most part massively multiplayer online games. Phantasy Star Online and Phantasy Star Universe are set in other galaxies, sharing minor canonical links with the original series, mostly in the recurrence of common themes and antagonists.

Planetary system Set of non-stellar objects in orbit around a star

A planetary system is a set of gravitationally bound non-stellar objects in or out of orbit around a star or star system. Generally speaking, systems with one or more planets constitute a planetary system, although such systems may also consist of bodies such as dwarf planets, asteroids, natural satellites, meteoroids, comets, planetesimals and circumstellar disks. The Sun together with its planetary system, which includes Earth, is known as the Solar System. The term exoplanetary system is sometimes used in reference to other planetary systems.

A multiplayer video game is a video game in which more than one person can play in the same game environment at the same time, either locally or over the internet. During its early history, video games were often single-player-only activities, putting the player against pre-programmed challenges or AI-controlled opponents, which lack the flexibility of human thought. Multiplayer games allow players interaction with other individuals in partnership, competition or rivalry, providing them with social communication absent from single-player games. In multiplayer games, players may compete against one or more human contestants, work cooperatively with a human partner to achieve a common goal, supervise other players' activity, co-op. Multiplayer games usually require players to share the resources of a single game system or use networking technology to play together over a greater distance.

<i>Phantasy Star Online</i> 2000 video game

Phantasy Star Online is an online role-playing game (RPG) developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega in 2000 for the Dreamcast. It was the first online RPG for game consoles; players adventure with up to three others over the internet to complete quests, collect items, and fight enemies in real-time action RPG combat. The story is unrelated to previous games in the Phantasy Star series.

Original series

Timeline of release years
1987 Phantasy Star
1989 Phantasy Star II
1990 Phantasy Star III
1992Phantasy Star Adventure
Phantasy Star Gaiden
1993 Phantasy Star IV
2000 Phantasy Star Online
2002Phantasy Star Online Episode II
2003 Phantasy Star Online Episode III: C.A.R.D. Revolution
2004Phantasy Star Online Episode IV
2006 Phantasy Star Universe
2008 Phantasy Star Zero
Phantasy Star Portable
2009 Phantasy Star Portable 2
2012 Phantasy Star Online 2
2014 Phantasy Star Nova

The original series takes place in the Algol Solar System, which consists of four planets: Palma, a fertile agricultural world; Motavia, a desert planet; Dezoris, an ice planet; and the mysterious Rykros, whose elongated orbit brings it within visible range only once every thousand years. Players travel to all four planets throughout the series, interacting with each unique set of inhabitants and discovering the secrets to the solar system's genesis, which is irrevocably tied to an ancient conflict.

A desert planet or dry planet is a theoretical type of terrestrial planet with a surface consistency similar to Earth's hot deserts. The concept has become a common setting in science fiction, appearing as early as the 1956 film Forbidden Planet and Frank Herbert's 1965 novel Dune, and more recently in the Star Wars franchise as the planets Tatooine, Geonosis, and Jakku.

An ice planet is a theoretical type of exoplanet with an icy surface of volatiles such as water, ammonia, and methane. Ice planets consist of a global cryosphere. They are bigger versions of the small icy worlds of the Solar System, which includes the moons Europa, Enceladus, and Triton, the dwarf planets Pluto and Eris, and many other small Solar System bodies such as comets.

<i>Phantasy Star</i> (video game) 1987 role-playing video game

Phantasy Star is a role-playing video game (RPG) developed by Sega and released for the Master System in 1987. One of the earliest Japanese RPGs for consoles, Phantasy Star tells the story of Alis on her journey to defeat the evil ruler of her star system, King Lassic, after her brother dies at his hands. She traverses between planets, gathering a party of fighters and collecting the items she needs to avenge her brother's death and return peace to the star system. The gameplay features traditional Japanese RPG elements including random encounters and experience points. All the characters have predefined personalities and abilities, a unique element compared to the customizable characters of other RPGs of the era.

<i>Phantasy Star II</i> video game

Phantasy Star II is a role-playing video game developed and published by Sega for the Sega Genesis. It was released in Japan and North America in 1989, and in Europe in 1990. It was later ported to a variety of different platforms. An updated remake, Phantasy Star Generation 2, was released for the PlayStation 2 in 2005 in Japan.

Sega Genesis Fourth-generation home video game console and fourth developed by Sega

The Sega Genesis, known as the Mega Drive in regions outside of North America, is a 16-bit home video game console developed and sold by Sega. The Genesis was Sega's third console and the successor to the Master System. Sega released it as the Mega Drive in Japan in 1988, followed by North America as the Genesis in 1989. In 1990, it was distributed as the Mega Drive by Virgin Mastertronic in Europe, Ozisoft in Australasia, and Tec Toy in Brazil. In South Korea, it was distributed by Samsung as the Super Gam*Boy and later the Super Aladdin Boy.

Compilations and remakes of the original series

<i>Phantasy Star Collection</i> video game compilation

Phantasy Star Collection is the name of two different compilations of Phantasy Star games. The first, released for the Sega Saturn in Japan in 1998, featured the first four games in the series, whereas the Game Boy Advance version, released four years later in North America and five in Europe, featured the first three. The North American and European versions were produced by Digital Eclipse. The Saturn version was later ported to the PlayStation 2 in Japan with more games added.

Sega Saturn video game console

The Sega Saturn is a 32-bit fifth-generation home video game console developed by Sega and released on November 22, 1994 in Japan, May 11, 1995 in North America, and July 8, 1995 in Europe. The successor to the successful Sega Genesis, the Saturn has a dual-CPU architecture and eight processors. Its games are in CD-ROM format, and its game library contains several arcade ports as well as original games.

<i>Sega Ages</i> Sega video game compilations

Sega Ages is a series of video game ports, remakes, and compilations published by Sega. It consists of Sega arcade games and home console games, typically those for the Sega Genesis and Master System. The series was launched on the Sega Saturn in 1996. Entries were published for the PlayStation 2 as Sega Ages 2500, a reference to its bargain ¥2500 price point. The series later came to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 as Sega Ages Online, and finally to the Nintendo Switch as simply Sega Ages. The name Sega Ages is a palindrome, with "Ages" being backwards for "Sega" — this was previously used by Sega in European marketing strategies from the late 1980s to early 1990s.

Spin-offs to the original series

1992 has seen many sequels and prequels in video games and several new titles such as Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, Art of Fighting,Super Mario Kart, and Mortal Kombat.

Game Gear handheld game console

The Game Gear is an 8-bit fourth generation handheld game console released by Sega on October 6, 1990 in Japan, in April 1991 throughout North America and Europe, and during 1992 in Australia. The Game Gear primarily competed with Nintendo's Game Boy, the Atari Lynx, and NEC's TurboExpress. It shares much of its hardware with the Master System, and can play Master System games by the use of an adapter. Sega positioned the Game Gear, which had a full-color backlit screen with a landscape format, as a technologically superior handheld to the Game Boy.

Sega Meganet, also known as the Net Work System, was an online service for the Mega Drive in Japan and later Brazil. Utilizing dial-up Internet access, Meganet was Sega's first online multiplayer gaming service, and functioned on a pay to play basis. The system functioned through the use of a peripheral called the Mega Modem and offered several unique titles that could be downloaded, and a few could be played competitively with friends. In addition, it shared technology and equipment with more serious services such as the Mega Anser, used for banking purposes. Though the system was announced for North America under the rebranded name "Tele-Genesis", it was never released for that region. Ultimately, the Meganet service would be short-lived, lasting approximately a year before it was discontinued, but would serve as a precursor to the Sega Channel and XBAND services, as well as a predecessor to online gaming services for video game consoles. Retrospective feedback praises the attempt by Sega to introduce online gaming, but criticizes the service for its logistical issues and lack of titles.

Phantasy Star Online

Promotion of Phantasy Star Online 2 at Tokyo Game Show 2017 KEN00140 (37230358692).jpg
Promotion of Phantasy Star Online 2 at Tokyo Game Show 2017

Other video games

Promotion of Idola Phantasy Star Saga at Tokyo Game Show 2018 Tokyo Game Show 2018 (TGS) (44799615461).jpg
Promotion of Idola Phantasy Star Saga at Tokyo Game Show 2018

Common elements

The plot, setting, and themes of the Phantasy Star series vary dramatically from the franchise's early installments to the multiplayer titles of today. Phantasy Star, Phantasy Star II, and Phantasy Star IV all deal with the concept of evil as a living, sentient entity that takes an active interest in galactic events.

A being known as "Dark Force" plagues the Algol planetary system every thousand years, resulting in mass destruction and loss of life. It begins its campaign of terror in subtle ways, usually subverting others to its will. Only once its pawn has either been eliminated or is no longer useful does Dark Force ever reveal itself. With each incarnation of Dark Force, a group of protectors arise to suppress it, ushering in a period of recovery and prosperity for the Algol system. This cycle of complacency and destruction continues every millennium. In Phantasy Star IV, the source of this being known as the Profound Darkness appears as well.

The original series takes place in the Algol system, with three major planets: Palma, Motavia, and Dezolis. Palma is destroyed during the events of Phantasy Star II, when the prison satellite Gaira crashes into the planet. Several colony ships fled from the disaster, and one of those ships, the Alisa III, is the setting of Phantasy Star III. Other locations within the series include several artificial satellites and Rykros, a planet with an extremely elongated orbit. Phantasy Star Online and Phantasy Star Universe take place in different planetary systems.

Fictional races that re-occur in the series include sentient androids created by humans, called CASTs in the spin-off series and portable games, and Newmans, previously called Numans, elf-like humanoids created by genetically engineering DNA from humans and other, genetically engineered "biomonsters".


The original Phantasy Star was released for the Master System in Japan on December 20, 1987. [3] It was one of the earliest cartridges to include battery backed RAM for saving game positions. The game featured 3D maze-like dungeons, which players traversed in a first-person mode. Phantasy Star, along with Dragon Quest , and Final Fantasy , distinguished itself as a pioneer of what came to be defined as console role-playing. [4] The first four games take place in the same universe, as opposed to many RPG series such as Final Fantasy, wherein successive game settings are unrelated, or, at most, superficially related. Each major Phantasy Star game adds onto the series' overall story, culminating in Phantasy Star IV which ties all of the series' plot elements together.

Both Phantasy Star Online and Phantasy Star Universe are their own series based on the original Phantasy Star games. They continue the theme of a persistent game universe, but are set in different planetary systems than the original games.

Reception and legacy

Games in the Phantasy Star franchise have overall been well received by critics. The original four games in the series are typically regarded as classics for the RPG genre. [5] Upon its initial release, the series was praised for its unique futuristic setting, something that had not been done yet in the genre. [5] In 1996, the series was ranked as the 72nd top game of all time by Next Generation , even as "there really isn't anything especially innovative here - the titles just have good, solid gameplay." [6]

Phantasy Star is recognized as featuring one of the first female lead characters, Alis Landale, alongside Samus Aran of Metroid . [7] It was also one of the first RPGs to feature animated monster encounters, [8] and to allow inter-planetary travel between three planets. [9] The game was inducted into the GameSpy Hall of Fame in 2000. [10] James Fudge of GameSpy said of the game that "everything about Phantasy Star was uncommon, fun, and strange." [10]

Phantasy Star II was considered one of the best role-playing games of its time, [11] and is regarded as "a game of many firsts" according to Nintendo Power . [12] It is regarded by many as the forerunner for certain aspects of role-playing video games, such as an epic, dramatic, character-driven storyline dealing with serious themes and subject matter, and a strategy-based battle system. [8] [13] The game's strong characterization, and use of self-discovery as a motivating factor for the characters and the player, was a major departure from previous RPGs and had a major influence on subsequent RPGs such as the Final Fantasy series. [14]

Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom featured an innovative and original branching storyline, which spans three generations of characters and can be altered depending on which character the protagonist of each generation marries, [15] leading to four possible endings. [8] Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium introduced the use of pre-programmable combat manoeuvers called 'macros', a means of setting up the player's party AI to deliver custom attack combos. [8]

Nintendo Power's staff has praised the original games, saying that Phantasy Star "was the first RPG to break out of the Dragon Quest / Dungeons & Dragons mold of generic Arthurian fantasy by introducing sci-fi elements. Among its many other accomplishments were the inclusion of characters with actual personalities, the introduction of event scenes, and the presentation of pseudo-3-D dungeons that were a technical marvel at the time." [4] IGN writer Jeremy Conrad stated that "anyone who played video games through the 8 and 16-bit eras would know that name [Phantasy Star]" and called the first four main series games "epic". [16]

Many of the series' spin-offs, including Online Episodes I & II and Phantasy Star Zero, have generally favorable scores on Metacritic. [17] [18] Phantasy Star Online in particular is recognized as one of the most "revolutionary new games" of the past decade, for its impact in taking "consoles online" and defining "small-scale multiplayer RPGs," paving the way for larger-scale MMORPG efforts such as Final Fantasy XI , setting the template for small-scale online RPGs such as Capcom's Monster Hunter series and some of the later Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy games, and giving rise to "an entire pantheon of multiplayer dungeon crawlers that continue to dominate the Japanese sales charts." More generally, Phantasy Star Online made "both online gaming and the concept of fee-based services a reality for consoles," paving the way for the online gaming services later provided by all three of the seventh-generation consoles. [19]

Other media

Game books



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<i>Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium</i> video game

Phantasy Star IV, released in Japan as Phantasy Star: The End of the Millennium, is a role-playing video game released for the Mega Drive/Genesis in Japan in 1993 and Europe and North America in 1995. It is the fourth and final game in the original Phantasy Star series, concluding the story of the Algol Star System. It was the last Phantasy Star game until Phantasy Star Online (2000), which has a mainly unrelated story.

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<i>Phantasy Star Universe</i> 2006 video game

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<i>Phantasy Star Online 2</i>

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<i>Phantasy Star Nova</i>

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  1. The World Of Phantasy Star / ファンタシースターの世界 ~ファンタシースターを作った人たち~. 1993. (Translation, archived)
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