Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium

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Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium

Phantasy Star IV - End of the Millennium, The - GEN - USA.jpg

Genesis - USA - 1st edition.

Developer Sega
Publisher Sega
Published 1993-12-27
Platforms Genesis
Genres Role-playing game
Themes Adventure, Cyborgs, Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction
Series Phantasy Star
Distribution Commercial

Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium is a fantasy sci-fi role-playing video game developed and published by Sega for the Genesis on 1993-12-17. It is a midquel which is takes place 1,000 years after Phantasy Star II, but 1,000 years before Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom. It is the last game that was made which takes place in the original Phantasy Star series. It often shows up in the top 10 of lists of the best Genesis games.

The game primarily follows Chaz, a member of the Hunter's Guild who makes money protecting people from the monsters that have become more common in the past couple years. The monsters and the ecological problems facing the entire planet seem to be the result of a cult leader named Zio who is growing in power and appears to be dead set on destroying everything. As you track down Zio you discover the history of the planet, how 1,000 years ago a group of heroes defeated Dark Force, but he appears to be returning.

Personal

Own?No.
Won?Yes, including all side quests.
Finished2024-05-08.

When I was in junior high, my friend Kevin had Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom for his Genesis. I thought the game looked and sounded amazing, but he got tired of it before getting that far into it. Years later, I remember talking to my friends about the game and one of them mentioned that III wasn't that great, and it wasn't until game IV that the series really picked up. I played and beat III in 2020, and, while I wasn't all that impressed with the game, I still had a fondness for it. Wanting to see what the next game in the series was like, I started playing IV. While playing it, I discovered even more that the series isn't very enjoyable when you aren't seeing it through rose-tinted nostalgia, and I found the game to be pretty boring. It's adequate for a 1993 Genesis title, but a far cry from a great game.

Review

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5 5 7 6 6

Best Version: Genesis

— This section contains spoilers! —

Good

  • The large graphics used in the cut-scenes look fantastic, the battle backgrounds are decent, and I like how, when you go inside houses, the exteriors match the terrain around them, only bigger. The background tiles, though scant, are sufficient, and sometimes quite nice.
  • Though I didn't like it as much as the third game, the music by Izuho Takeuchi and Masaki Nakagaki is still good and fits the theme.
  • Being able to talk amongst the party to remind the player where to go was a fantastic idea that makes it much harder to get lost in the game, even if it has been a while since your last play session. I wish more games of the time did this.
  • The various weapon types (boomerangs, claws, guns, etc.) make combat more interesting.
  • The macro system, which lets you can set up a script of actions for your characters to follow, is a useful addition. It makes it much easier to set up combination magic, and really speeds up grinding.
  • Unlike Final Fantasy games, death magic works frequently enough to be a viable option.
  • I like the optional side quests offered up at the Hunter's Guild.

Bad

  • The game isn't innovative enough for a 1993 game. Although the narrative is much stronger than a typical 8-bit RPG, the play mechanics are not. This is a bit embarrassing for a game released after Final Fantasy V and Secret of Mana.
  • I initially liked the idea of being able to inspect background objects, but it quickly grew annoying for several reasons:
    • If there isn't anything of note, you have to read the same text saying there isn't anything there. There is no need for this, if there isn't anything there, the game just shouldn't say anything. This comes up far too often because, a lot of stuff that looks interesting isn't, fast-moving NPCs aren't easy to catch up to, and the auto maneuvering makes you face away just before you hit the search button.
    • There is text for many things, which encourages the player to search them all, but most of the text is repeated throughout the game.
    • In the end, this whole addition was a waste of time for both the developers and players since you never get any useful information or items from the process.
  • I would have preferred descriptive names for techniques like fire and heal instead of the abstract names used. Also, the manual leaves out a lot of skill definitions, so you have to experiment with them to figure them out.
  • There is a bit too much grinding for my taste.
  • There are several juvenile sexual references at the expense of women ensuring female players will feel alienated.
  • I wish the NPCs were more interactive. In Nalya, you meet a couple who eloped from Aiedo, and the wife wants to see her parents again, but her husband thinks they will too mad at them. When you got to Aiedo, you discover her parents have gotten over them eloping, and just want to see her again. However, when you return to the couple, you can't tell them about her parents. This would have been a nice side-quest, but nothing ever comes from it. There are several other instances like this.
  • When buying weapons and armor, you aren't shown what you already have, or if what you're about to buy is better. To find out, you have to end the conversation, check your equipment to see the current strength, then talk to the seller again, buy the item, then leave the conversion again, go back to your equipment, equip the item, then talk to the seller again to sell your old stuff. This is a whole lot of busy work.
  • Combination magic is a pretty cool idea, but the game only tells you that it exists and gives you a single example, then tells you to find the other 14 through trial and error, a process about as exciting as doing your taxes.
  • The solution to the carnivorous forest is a bit out there. I stumbled upon it by accident after dying several times.
  • Having giant monsters only appear when riding in vehicles doesn't make sense. Why don't they attack when you're walking?
  • Experience seemed a bit miscalculated. Difficult foes frequently yielded less XP than more powerful foes.
  • The game tends to drag on a bit. I was pretty tired of it around the 3/4 mark, but there were still several hours to go.

Ugly

  • There isn't anything really wrong with the game, just a lot of little things that add up.

Media

Box Art

Documentation

Videos

Longplay - USA.

Play Online

Genesis (USA), Mega Drive

Representation

Strong female character?PassFour of the ten playable characters are female: Alys, Rika, Demi, and Kyra, and several of them grow in the story. Several damsels in distress though.
Bechdel test?PassThe women talk to each other several times in the cut scenes and chatter.
Strong person of color character?FailAlthough some NPCs are people of color, none of them are important.
Queer character?FailThere are no queer characters.

Titles

Language Native Transliteration Translation
English Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium
Japanese ファンタシースター ~千年紀の終りに~ Fantashi Suta III ~Sen'nenki no Owari Ni~ Phantasy Star: At the End of the Millennium

Note: The US and European boxes do not have the subtitle, but it is present on the in-game title screen.

Links

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