RPG Review #71: Phantasy Star III

NuMetalManiak
Another one done, in about two weeks tops too. Glad to have that going for me. Anyways, let's revisit an RPG franchise that I held off on for a rather long time. When was the last time I played a Phantasy Star game? That was like, #16 if I recall. Time does fly. So this is Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom, an interesting entry in the franchise that divided the fans quite a bit. It landed on the Phantasy Star Collection as the first two games did, but I decided to try this Genesis-style.

Gameplay: Let's get the obvious out of the way, this is obviously a turn-based RPG, typical dungeon-crawling, typical town interactions, and typical battle systems. There are seven worlds on the main area, and two satellite worlds, pretty cool, although tough without a map to navigate. As with other Phantasy Stars, this game has some expensive equipment, so I sadly had been grinding for money quite an awful lot. Dungeons weren't as complex as the second game, though, most of them are passages between worlds, with plenty of dead-ends. This game needed a dash button, because the walking speed was SLOW. Battles are incredibly frequent, which I hated.

Oh yes, the battles. I can say this is a better battle system than the second game, even though they are very similar. We now have five characters to use in battle, and this time it is now possible to ambush enemies instead of only them ambushing you (one of my bigger complaints about II). Also, there's no missing attacks this time! That's good. We also have two rows of enemies, the front row always consisting of small enemies, and the bigger ones in the back. It can get quite a hassle with a high encounter rate, a very possible ambush rate, and poison (the only status effect in the game although it just prevents healing) enemies around. Techniques are in this game, but attacking techiques aren't really that useful this time around. You'd rather use the heal and buff-ups, because many enemies in the game can be felled quickly. Maybe I like the difficulty drop after all, because this was much easier to deal with than its predecessors. Too bad the graphics aren't really that fun to look at. Grade: C+

Characters: Lots of characters, for a game whose subtitle is Generations of Doom, they'll be in different generations. Two factions, the warrior-like Orakians and the more spell-friendly Layans, in some sort of dispute. At the end of each generation, your main character can marry one of two girls you picked up, which goes to the next generation to produce a son which becomes the main character for that generation.

Rhys: The first character to play with, he's destined to marry this girl, who get's captured. He's an Orakian, meaning he's a strong fighter, but completely lacks techniques.
Mieu: This character is a cyborg that is found early in Rhys' quest. She fights with claws and has a few support techs. Being a cyborg, she lasts through the three generations in the game.
Wren: He's the other cyborg, and can wield strong guns for weapons. Also he's technically a plot item since there are parts to find in dungeons that transform him into vehicles. Like Mieu, he lasts through all three generations.
Lyle: Holds a secret power, and despite being a main rival for Rhys he joins him. A good spellcaster, but he's decent at regular combat if he dual-wields staves. He's the Layan prince in truth.
Lena: She's the one to rescue Rhys from the dungeon early on, but joins late. Only fights with knives and doesn't have techs.
Nial: If Rhys marries Lena, their son will be Nial, another pure-blooded Orakian who is a good fighter without techs.
Ryan: This cool guy with shades only is on Nial's quest, and helps him there. He wields staves just like Lyle.
Laya: She is also found on Nial's quest, and wields a bow. Interestingly, she is cryogenically asleep when the party finds her. Also, either she or her descendant (also named Laya, for some reason) exists in the third generation as a playable character, unless Adan is your main hero.
Ayn: If Rhys marries Maia, the Layan girl he wanted to marry, they will have Ayn as a son. He can use techs this time, but is still as good a fighter as Rhys.
Thea: On Ayn's quest, Thea is Lyle's daughter. Originally a damsel in distress, she can wield slicers in combat.
Sari: Assuming Ayn is the hero, Lena apparently gave birth to a really tough daughter by the name of Sari. She's fought as a boss at one point, but joins up immediately afterwards and is powerful with knives.
Aron: If Nial marries Alair (who is Lune's sister), Aron will be the son. He gets some good techniques and is decent overall.
Adan: If Nial marries Laya, they will have two children. Adan is one of them and is just a good fighter with some techs.
Gwyn: If Nial marries Laya, Gwyn will be Adan's twin sister (and Laya's actual replacement). She inherits pretty much all of Laya's traits.
Crys: If Ayn marries Sari, they will have a very tough son by the name of Crys, with some marginal techs, but a great fighter.
Sean: If Ayn marries Thea, Sean will be the son. He's 3/4 Layan, and has the most amount of techs of any hero.
Kara: She is Lune's daughter, and has two versions. If Aron or Adan is the protagonist (Aron is also her cousin), she will be of the princess variant, at low power but quickly gains. If Crys or Sean is the protagonist, she is more of a warrior instead, who has more offensive power. Both versions do use slicers.

I like the massive amount of characters this time around. Not a whole lot of character dialogue or character development, which I guess is fine for the Phantasy Star series anyways. Grade: A-

Plot: And now for the plot, which is quite traditional. In fact, if it wasn't for the title, I would have been bamboozled into thinking that it was in a medieval setting, but then, I mentioned the world in this one. Truth be told, this game's world takes place on a flying spaceship consisting of seven biodomes. Who the heck is flying this thing anyways? And what's the main connection between this and the other Phantasy Star games. Further more, why are two factions, the Orakians and the Layans, always at odds with one another? Why is the name Laya always used for the daughters of that generation? So many questions to ponder. That being said, the game is divided into three generations, so that means there's some room for different endings depending on which third-generation protagonist you decide to play as.

Let's start with Rhys, our only first-generation protagonist. He's destined to betroth Maia, a girl who was found on some beach in the Orakian world. Without warning, Maia gets kidnapped as the wedding proceeds, apparently by none other than a Layan dragon, which was simply trying to take her back home. Of course, our protagonist hates this, demands action. You know what the king does? Lock him up in the dungeon, WHERE HIS CELL HAS JRPG EQUIPMENT. Rhys then escapes and finds clues to Maia's whereabouts, recruiting both cyborgs Mieu and Wren along the way. He also meets Lyle a few times, who decides to join the second time he's met until deciding to briefly betray Rhys and fight him because he's a Layan prince. Except that betrayal is completely short-lived and he rejoins right afterwards. Lena also joins on Rhys' quest, where he rescues Maia from King Cille, and then we have the first branching point. Who to marry? Lena, or Maia?

Marrying Lena produces a son named Nial, and Rhys is king of Landen (the Orakian hometown). Lena's hometown is apparently ransacked, and some psychopathic Layan guy named Lune is responsible. Nial sets off to fight him, recruiting Ryan (a rebel leader) as well as Laya (except again, it's confusing as hell because each generation of Laya has the EXACT SAME NAME as the Laya of legend). They then defeat Lune on a satellite planet, and then it will be decided on whether to marry Alair (Lune's sister who for some reason got imprisoned) or Laya. On the other hand Rhys could marry the girl he was supposed to, Maia, and produce a son named Ayn as well as becoming the new king of Cille. This is when cyborgs attack (yes, Phantasy Star III differentiates between monsters and cyborgs) and Ayn's supposed to investigate for his father and Lyle (who now has a daughter, Thea, who of course gets kidnapped early on). Ayn rescues Thea eventually and runs into Sari, fighting her before she joins. At some point, Lyle reveals a secret about himself and dies shortly after, and then Ayn's group fights off Siren (who is a Wren clone). Then you can marry either Thea or Sari.

If Nial marries Alair, they have a son named Aron, while Lune has a daughter named Kara who immediately joins then. If Nial had married Laya, they would immediately be back at Landen with twins Adan and Gwyn, and they have to go to where Kara is. If it's Ayn you had beforehand, and he marries Sari, they have a son in Landen named Crys, while if Ayn marries Thea, they have a son named Sean, who unfortunately has to escape the satellite planet before it gets blown up, meaning both Thea and Ayn die in Sean's arc. From Crys' and Sean's arc, they both have to find Laya (again, another descendant) and Kara who is more of a warrior-type than the one in Adan's or Aron's arc, and from then on, the four main protagonists will have very similar final moments.

The final parties all find out the truth about their spaceship, as well as some of Palm's descendents (remember that planet got blown up). They each seek legendary weapons, have those weapons upgraded, then fight off Rulakir, who is Orakio's brother, then of course, Phantasy Star's very own Dark Force. The endings for each character are a bit different, Crys manages to avoid setting the ship towards a sun, while Adan avoids a black hole. Aron's ending involves a message from Earth, yes Earth, while Sean has a similar-looking ship give a friendly hail. For an RPG with little dialogue, the different branches are quite interesting. Grade: B

Music: This music is quite organic, with a number of interesting tunes throughout. It would be nice if the encounter rate wasn't so high, because I heard battle music more than the other ones. There's a couple different dungeon themes, a few endgame themes, and the droning overworld themes. Interestingly, the battle music differs, and I think it depends on whether or not you can defeat your enemy in a single round of combat or not (or if you're ambushed!). It's alright, I guess. Grade: B-

Overall Grade: B-

Well, it isn't THAT bad I guess, but I mean, there's always better ones out there. It's typical, easier than the last two games (which is fine), but boring on the onset.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT
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So you are probably aware about the net neutrality repeal that is gonna happen on December 14, and how we are pretty much all powerless to stop it. I quite frankly don't want to stop with reviews (or the full-fledged list analyses either), but I have a feeling that this or the 72nd review may be my last review on this site. I don't know, maybe this site will be fine, but I'm not sure if I can even find any ROM files for whatever obscure/non-obscure RPG games after the repeal is done. We'll see what will happen and hopefully there isn't any worst-case scenarios and I can at least continue for as long as I can
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