I got done playing more Super Paper Mario just a little while ago. The game is fantastic, and the art style is just so charmingly well done. I’ve been a sucker for old-school Mario platformers, and this is a real winner. Between that and the Virtual Console’s Punch-Out!!, I’ve been in mini-gaming Heaven.

I enjoy browsing Wikipedia for old game news and franchises. There are so many links that lead from one page to another, that I end up browsing for quite some time if I don’t catch myself. I’ve been looking at a lot of Sega stuff lately: Any new tidbits on NiGHTS (the game looks amazing), and the “glory days” of the Genesis and Dreamcast. I will always be in that camp of Dreamcast should have survived at least 3-4 years longer. It was a remarkable system.

I’ve also been looking up a whole wiki devoted to Phantasy Star, one of my favorite RPG series of all time, in many ways, the only RPG series that could come close to toppling my irrational love for Square-Enix games.

I was probably the only kid on my block to own both a NES AND a Sega Master System. I bought the Master System mostly for their version of Ghostbusters (which is still the best port of the original game, in my opinion), but also Space Harrier, as I thought it was cool. I was also the kid who sent away for the Nintendo Fun Club (Doc Louis’ sage boxing advice paid off), and Sega’s newsletter. Free stuff, but it tipped me off to Phantasy Star. Outside of my Apple IIc, this was my first entry into the console RPG world.

Phantasy Star was unique, even by today’s standards. If you’ve never played it, you owe to yourself as a gamer to play this one. Sure, the text was laden with “Engrish”, but it was a marvel to behold. The swords and sorcery meets lazer guns and space travel was Sega’s own Star Wars. It had some of the best dungeon scrolling around (beating out even many 16-bit titles), and was so good, even my parents got into it. I loved my NES, but I couldn’t understand why people weren’t screaming from the rooftops about the greatness that was Phantasy Star. It’s still one of my Top 10 for my personal “Best Games of All Time”.

Then came the Genesis, and Phantasy Star II, III, and IV. Again, I was pulled back into the world of the Algol Star System (the second game didn’t quite have the fantastic look of the first game, but I still liked the cut scenes). Part 3 was “the odd one”, but I still liked it enough, and the fourth game brought out the best of the entire series. They always said Phantasy Star IV was the end of the series, and I kept hoping they were wrong.

The Saturn didn’t do much to change that, releasing a compilation set only available in Japan, and then they announces a new game in the series was coming out for the Dreamcast. And it was to be online. And my world was about to be changed once again.

Back in the days of dial-up, I spent so many college nights reunited with my real-world friends (who I convinced to all buy Dreamcasts), as we set out in this amazing world known as Phantasy Star Online. It had very little to do with the Master System/Genesis games, which was a little frustrating, but having three of my friends tromp out on a several hour adventure was just mind-numbingly cool at the time. Like most MMORPGS, I became addicted. Not freakishly so, but I did look forward to that time of day where all of us could go out and kick butt. To date, it still remains one of my fondest gaming memories. And then Playstation 2 crushed Dreamcast, and my dungeon tromping days were over.

The time since hasn’t been to kind to my beloved series. They released the series on Gamecube, but Nintendo’s irritating lack of online support ruined any real potential in getting the old gang together to raise a ruckus on the next generation consoles (I did love the remixed music, though). They did updates for the first two games of the Phantasy Star series for Playstation 2, but again, Japan only. I haven’t attempted Phantasy Star Universe as I’ve read mixed reviews. Me, I just want a single player RPG experience again.

It’s hard to say if Sega will do this anytime soon. Splitting up Sega’s games across all the platforms has been a little frustrating as a Sega fan, and many of their games just lack that certain “something” since the Sega-Sammy merger/buyout, that something that made me fall in love with Sega all over again after E3 of 2000. Sega went insane that year at their booth. I may have to share that story sometime.

But as for Phantasy Star, I’d love to see the series return to its roots, with space travel, and green-skinned Dezorians, and Musk Cats, and Laconian weapons and armor. What struck me as weird about Phantasy Star Online is that many of the races (with the exceptions of Numans), items and locations were lost or never referenced again. I’d like to see Sega put out some epic adventure bringing back the foundations of the series, but also something new. The online aspects are great, but I’d like to a game given the same attention as one of the Final Fantasy games.

For those who have never played the series, do a little research on it, and perhaps play the games themselves. Even the weirdly out of place third game is enjoyable to the overall story.

By the way, “hello” to all my newer readers. It’s nice to see some people checking out my ramblings.

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