Phantasy Star Collection
The GBA is pretty well covered for RPG games. Golden Sun has been out a long time and is rightly hailed as a classic, Zelda has now arrived (although you could argue that isn't a true RPG), and with a Final Fantasy game on the way and Golden Sun 2 and the new Pokemon games almost upon us it's looking good for RPG fans. Phantasy Star Collection gives you the chance to enjoy some old SEGA RPGs on your GBA. In fact you get three games, Phantasy Star I, Phantasy Star II and Phantasy Star III. Let's see how they shape up in the 21st century.
The first thing you're going to notice is how bad these games look and believe me they do look bad. I know a lot of people are in to retro games but it's a real shame that these games weren't given a graphical facelift to take advantage of the GBA. Of course fans of the series who want a carbon copy of the games they played all those years ago will probably be thrilled to bits. As you would expect Phantasy Star I looks the worst and rightly so because it's an 8-bit game where as the other two came out during the 16-bit era and look noticeably better. Of course poor graphics are going to keep the eye candy enthusiasts away but those who are more concerned with the gameplay will be able to look past the aesthetics.
Each of the three stories are completely unrelated but much like the Final Fantasy series they all share common elements. Combat is turn-based and although it's a poor turn based system you can see the roots of modern console RPG combat emerging, especially in Phantasy Star II. In Phantasy Star I you play Alis. She attempts to take revenge on the evil King Lassic for the death of her brother, Nero. Nero had discovered Lassic's evil plans before he was silenced. The game begins with a dying Nero telling Alis to seek out a man named Odin. Phantasy Star II follows the story of Rolf, a government agent who must rid the Algo Star System of the oppressive Mother Brain. Finally Phantasy Star III sees you playing as Prince Rhys who, as he is about to get married has his bride-to-be kidnapped by a demon. Rhys has to try and get her back. The quality of the games' stories is actually not that bad. I would say that the second one is a lot better than the other two though.
All of the games in this compilation will cause no problems for deaf gamers. In actual fact the games' sounds are even poorer than the graphics. All information is text and you can read the conversations at your own pace as they require a button press to continue. Phantasy Star III features a scrolling text introduction but asks you what speed you would like it to scroll at before it commences, a nice touch.
The Phantasy Star Collection is really for retro fans and old time gamers alike who want to replay the first three games in the series. Gamers looking for style as well as (or indeed instead of) content will be disappointed though, especially with the first game, as the graphics look poor and the menus can seem unrefined if you've played any of the modern releases such as Golden Sun. Still the pack represents good value for money with around 80 hours of gameplay on offer, which is exceptional for just under £35.
Game Rating: 7.5/10