Submitted by: Andy Bolsover
Phantasy Star III is considered by many to be the ‘black sheep’ of the series, so much so that even calling it the ‘black sheep’ has become a bit of a cliché these days. The storyline and setting are seemingly unrelated to it’s predecessors, and the graphics can almost be considered a step back. The battle backgrounds and animations in particular are woefully inadequate. Hilariously, enemy attacks are often signified by innocuous looking actions such as a finger wagging or a nose wiggling. And yet I love this game, it has a sense of the epic that only the very best RPGs can give you.
The story is set over three generations, and at the end of the first and second you can choose a bride for your main character, giving you different offspring to control, and thus creating several possible stories and endings. This narrative conceit gives license for more drama than an average series of The Colbys.
Whilst graphically leaving a lot to be desired, the music in PSIII is uniformly excellent, and memorable enough that I could still whistle the world map theme today, a good ten years since I played it to completion. It cleverly adapts to events in the game, so if you gain a party member or someone dies it will change accordingly. Its certainly the best part of the presentation, the graphics in the exploration sections can be a little drab, but are functional, and there is some nice artwork in the intro sequence. The game itself is fairly standard RPG fare, but it all works as a framework to hang the generally excellent plotlines on. It is incredibly easy however, a seasoned RPG pro will go through it like a blowtorch through butter.
Phantasy Star III was the first RPG I ever played, so accusations of bias would probably be accurate, but it’s a worthwhile experience. Don’t be put off by the buzz about it.