Game Ramblings #12 – Phantasy Star 3: Generations of Doom

More info from Wikipedia

  • Platform: Sega Genesis
  • Genre: JRPG

Going back to old JRPGs is something that I do from time to time, and usually end up regretting.  I can’t go back to the PS1 Final Fantasy titles without getting annoyed at the amount of time waste because of loading that happens during battles.  Games like Dark Cloud, which were so revolutionary at release have lost a lot of their luster.  Even more recent titles like Lost Odyssey have simply been surpassed by the latest and greatest.  So, going back to play a game that I’d never played is usually an even bigger risk.  The question then becomes, was it worth playing?  In this case, it’s reserved, but a yes.

The story generally plays out over multiple generations of a single family, including the option of who you are marrying at the end of a generation.  While this does mean you lose party members you invest in, they are replaced by generally stronger characters.  There are also a pair of cyborgs written into the story that maintain their level and gear across generations, so the party’s power curve never suffers from the transfer between generations.

The game also greatly benefits from largely being quick and focused.  Battles are fast, leveling is fast, gear is generally easy to find and purchase, and the story is there and is well written, but does not get in the way.  I got to the end of the game within about 20 hours, so unlike a lot of modern JRPGs, I didn’t ever reach the point where I was bored.  There’s a lot to say about the over reliance of fluff in modern JRPGs, and PS3 offers a good show of focusing the experience for the player to get the most out of more limited hours.

That’s not to say everything has aged well though.  While it is interesting that you can customize the relative strength of character’s magic spells, I never really dove into the  system beyond heavily leaning towards the strength of single target heals.  The shop and inventory system is also simply bad at this point.  Items give no description, gear shows no stats, and also doesn’t show what characters it can be equipped to.  This is nothing that an item list from Gamefaqs couldn’t solve, but is definitely a little strange to have no information in the shops.  Purchasing and selling is also one item at a time, inventory is capped per character at only 15 items, and items can’t be stacked.  It’s just kind of frustrating, and not even something that even games of similar age tended to do.

So, I wouldn’t say this game has aged that gracefully, but end of the day it had enough going for it, and a length short enough that it didn’t grow old.