Phantasy Star

Last updated
Phantasy Star
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.


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.

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.

Compilations and remakes of the original series

Spin-offs to the original series

Phantasy Star Online

Phantasy Star Online is a series of online RPGs originally released for Dreamcast in 2000, and continuing on the Xbox, Nintendo GameCube, and Microsoft Windows. Phantasy Star Online started a new adventure, centering on the plight of a colony of spaceships called Pioneer 2, in another star system. Players fight through a number of levels spread over four distinct areas, finally facing off against Dark Falz, a nod to the original series. In addition to the main story, players can also take the Hunter's Guild sidequests, which explores the lives of Pioneer 2's citizens, and further delve into the backstory behind the game. In the tradition of MMORPGs, these sidequests reward players with Meseta, the chance to explore the stories behind Pioneer 2's NPC residents, and the opportunity to obtain special weapons.

Phantasy Star Online 2

Phantasy Star Online 2 is an MMORPG first released for Microsoft Windows on July 4, 2012, and later PlayStation Vita, Android and iOS. A PS4 version was released on April 20, 2016. A Nintendo Switch version was released on April 4, 2018.

Action role-playing games

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]


Game Books




  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)
  2. "Sega Ages 2500 Series Vol. 32: Phantasy Star Complete Collection". Sega Retro. Retrieved 2018-03-25.
  3. GameSpot staff. "Phantasy Star at GameSpot". GameSpot . Retrieved 2010-01-26.
  4. 1 2 Editors of Nintendo Power: Nintendo Power February, 2009; issue 2 (in English). Future US Inc, 39-42. Retrieved February 1, 2010.
  5. 1 2 Tierny, Adam (2003). "Phantasy Star Collection". IGN . Retrieved 2010-01-27.
  6. Next Generation 21 (September 1996), p.47.
  7. Montgomery, Chris (2004). "History of The Phantasy Star Series". Sega-16. Retrieved 2010-01-27.[ permanent dead link ]
  8. 1 2 3 4 "Time Machine: Phantasy Star". January 2, 2011. Retrieved 15 May 2011.
  9. John, McCarroll (August 20, 2002). "RPGFan Previews - Phantasy Star Collection". RPGFan. Retrieved 15 May 2011.
  10. 1 2 Fudge, James (2000). "GameSpy Hall of Fame: Phantasy Star". GameSpy. Archived from the original on 2013-03-23. Retrieved 2010-01-27.
  11. Lesser, Hartley; Lesser,Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (August 1990). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (160): 47–52.
  12. "Phantasy Star II". Nintendo Power . Nintendo of America. 246-249: 21. 2009. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
  13. Kasavin, Greg. "The Greatest Games of All Time: Phantasy Star II - Features at GameSpot". GameSpot . Retrieved 2010-09-13.
  14. Kaiser, Rowan (July 22, 2011). "RPG Pillars: Phantasy Star II". GamePro . Archived from the original on 2011-11-30. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  15. "Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom Review". IGN. April 25, 2008.
  16. Conrad, Jeremy. "Phantasy Star Online: Introduction". IGN. Archived from the original on August 31, 2010. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
  17. "Phantasy Star Online Episodes I & II". Metacritic . Retrieved 2010-01-27.
  18. "Phantasy Star Zero". Metacritic . Retrieved 2010-01-27.
  19. Parish, Jeremy (February 2010). "Phantasy Star Online". The Decade That Was: Essential Newcomers - We close our look back at the the[ sic ] past 10 years with five revolutionary new games. p. 2. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  20. Capowski, Rebecca. "Translation and Analysis of the Phantasy Star Compendium". Archived from the original on 2008-02-10. Retrieved 2010-01-26.
  21. "Phantasy Star Memorial CD translation" . Retrieved 2010-01-26.