The Greatest Game I Ever Played

I’d played role-playing games before…

The first was Lagoon for SNES. This game introduced me to experience points.

The second was Faxanadu for NES. This game showed me the importance of the judicious use of healing items.

The third was Dragon Warrior, also for NES. This game introduced me to random encounters.

The fourth was Final Fantasy, an NES classic. This was the first game in which I controlled a whole party, instead of a lone hero.

The fifth was Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest for SNES. This was the first game I played in which the hero truly communicated with the rest of the people in the world.

The sixth was Phantasy Star III. This game showed me the joys of mandatory backtracking.

All of these games were fun, and–with the notable exception of Lagoon–I’ve beaten them all. However, RPGs still represented a small proportion of my gaming repertoire. I would play other genres, particularly sports, 2D fighters, and platformers. I wasn’t a raging fan for RPGs… yet.

Then, there was lucky number 7.

A game came into my life that would change everything. This game had it all: a compelling story, memorable characters, epic battles, outstanding music, climactic moments, comedy, tragedy, beautiful visuals, and practically oozing with replay value (I’ve played through it at least 4 times). It was only after this game that I would officially, and with conviction, jump aboard the RPG bandwagon, forsaking nearly all other genres in my devotion to it:

Phantasy Star IV

Phantasy Star IV

Yes. This was the game that completely sold me on role-playing games. It has everything an RPG fan could ever want. In traditional RPG fashion, you have an unlikely hero with less-than-heroic beginnings. Soon, this diamond in the rough emerges as the protector of the entire solar system.

Our hero, Chaz Ashley, starts out as a hunter–a mercenary monster-slayer for hire–called to Motavia Academy to investigate a monster outbreak. Faithfully following his mentor and partner, Alys Brangwin, he proceeds to the Academic City of Piata.

Alys & Chaz

Alys & Chaz

What would occur after is a sequence of events that makes up one of the greatest stories ever told in video game history. As Chaz grows from a dagger-swinging neophyte into a seasoned, sword-wielding, intrastellar guardian, he experiences all the things in life and work that builds the heart of a hero:

Intrigue…

The horrors of black magic.

The horrors of the black arts

Magic…

Flaeli!!

Flaeli!!

Lessons of history…

Alisia III or Neo Palm?

Alisia III or Neo Palm?

Adventure…

Across the sands of Motavia

Across the sands of Motavia

Drama…

Zio, the Black Magician

Zio, the Black Magician

Conflict…

A useful combination attack

A useful combination attack

Tragedy…

Paying final respects

Paying final respects

Light-heartedness…

Rika has no fear

Rika has no fear

New friends…

Raja, a priest on planet Dezolis

Raja, a priest on planet Dezolis

A way to get from here to there…

The Landale

The Landale

Otherworldly powers…

It's blindingly bright!

It’s blindingly bright!

And what hero would be complete without…

A weapon of supreme good…

+6 blessed holy burst keen vorpal bane (evil outsider) bastard sword

+6 blessed holy burst keen vorpal evilbane bastard sword

This is how legends are forged.

The game’s penultimate scene, in which your friends return to lend you their power for the final battle, is both invigorating and heart-warming.

Time for the final showdown

Time for the final showdown

Then there’s the final battle, which I will not spoil. Suffice to say, it’s an epic fight. When it’s over, you are given closing scenes, in which you hail your victory and bring the story to a satisfying end. Additionally, you’re rewarded with an honest-to-goodness epilogue, something even some modern games are sorely lacking.

So, in closing, I shall simply say that Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium is the best game I ever played. It showed me everything that an RPG should be, and propelled me into a new outlook on video games that no game since has achieved.

...for reading what's in my heart.

…for reading what’s in my heart.

Steve Schoen

Live to game; game to live. Nominal Christian from birth; practicing Christian since 2002. I love to talk all things gaming, from console classics to Dungeons & Dragons.

1 Comment

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