4.2 Phantasy Star II
I was going to move on to number three, but then I remembered this saucy little cartridge who got her fingers into me and wouldn’t let me go for almost a year.
When Sega ruled the world and the Genesis was as ubiquitous as M.C. Hammer explaining how none of us were worthy of fondling “this” I was in college and had nothing of value save my gaming console and D&D books. I could have gotten along just fine without anything else, up to and including food, as long as my plastic molded master was hooked up to the giant 14″ color TV. (And the D&D books, I needed them to a degree that’s embarassing to recall.)
Into this strange bubble of self-sustaining geekery came Phantasy Star II. My very first RPG of note and the first long-term relationship of depth and constant exploration. With a game. The wiles of that electronic entertainment were many.
Fistfulls of characters to level up. Specialized weapons with specific strategic uses. Huge dungeons, unending monster encounters, and the need to farm mobs for cash in order to afford the best gear. Sensing familar themes? Days upon days were spent with the rounded black controller in my hands, wandering the lands of Mota and delving into its mysteries with my expanding group of adventurers. It was hard to choose between them but we could only be a party of four at a time. I would actually feel bad for a character if I hadn’t had them in the party for a while. They were my friends and I was…going a bit crazy, I suppose, but damn it was fun.
The odd thing is that this love of Phantasy Star II ruined me for RPGs. I was so enamored of her that nothing else could hold up to my ideal. When I found Phantasy Star III I was flush with excitment. But I couldn’t play more than a third of it before it was too painful to continue. They had attempted to improve the mechanics but instead ended up with a hulking mess. In comparison to II’s sleek and polished gameplay, PSIII was the ugly sister with a gladular disorder and club feet.
I was crushed and turned my back on not just Phantasy Star but on all RPGs. Because of PSIII I avoided Final Fantasy. Seriously. I still have only played one installment of that venerable series because my heart belonged to Phantasy Star and it had turned out to be a video-game-genetics dead end.
I have loved again (thank you Shadow Hearts: From the New World) but never as wholly or innocently. I no longer weep tears of sweet remembrance when thinking of my time with Phantasy Star II but I do get misty whenever I see the Genesis logo.