The third Phantasy Star game, subtitled Generations of Doom, was released for the Megadrive by Sega in 1990.
I’ve already covered the other two Megadrive Phantasy Star games, but not this one, because it is something of an anomaly in the series.
While it still uses familiar Phantasy Star conventions such as turn-based combat, random encounters, “monomate” (a healing item, equivalent to a medical kit or health pack), and “escapipe” (a spell that allows you to escape a dungeon), Phantasy Star III is quite different to the previous two games. Too different, some believe.
If you know the previous games, a cursory look at Phantasy Star III will indicate that something’s up. The graphics are sparse and scrappy. The combat is… basic at best; poor at worst. The story and dialogue (initially at least) don’t seem to have much bearing on what came before, and the game seems a little empty by comparison.
That’s not to say that Phantasy Star III is a terrible game. It isn’t. It’s just not as good as parts one, two, and four. It’s the runt of the litter.
The aim of the game is – as a character called Rhys – to find your kidnapped bride, Maia, and defeat her kidnapper, the dragon Layan.
One excellent feature of Phantasy Star III – that is new to the series – is that the story spans three generations of characters. In the first act the main character, Rhys, is given the option of choosing to marry one of two different women. The choice affects the gameplay in the subsequent act as the resulting child may be of differing abilities, depending on their bloodline. In the final act there are four possible branches and which one you choose will determine the game’s ending.
This generational element of the gameplay is worth the entrance fee alone, although playing Phantasy Star III after playing the other games will no doubt lead to some disappointment as it certainly doesn’t have the high quality combat and presentation that we’ve come to expect from the series.