About Phantasy Star IV

History

Genesis box front  Genesis box back US box front & back
Japanese scan of Genesis box Japan box back, spine, & front

Phantasy Star IV is an RPG by Sega, released in Japan in December 1993 for the Sega Mega Drive. In February 1995, it was released in North America for the Sega Genesis. It retailed for around $90-$100 US!

This release is the fourth and final game in the original Phantasy Star series, concluding the story of the Algol Star System. The battle system carries the same style as Phantasy Star 2 with the backs of your characters in view. They added a unique feature to this game that no other RPG has: manga-style panel illustrations that accompany the narrative. It's really cool!

The dungeons were originally intended to be in full 3D, like the mazes in Phantasy Star 1. Click here to see how it looked! Unfortunately, they encountered memory limitations and decided to purge 3D dungeons in favor of traditional top-down view dungeons.

Phantasy Star IV was ported to a bunch of systems:

1998-2008
Phantasy Star Collection Sega Saturn JP: February 4, 1998 Game Boy Advance NA: November 24, 2002 EU: March 7, 2003 PlayStation 2 JP: March 27, 2008
Sega Genesis Collection PlayStation 2 NA: November 7, 2006 EU: February 2, 2007 AU: February 8, 2007 PlayStation Portable NA: November 16, 2006 EU: February 2, 2007 AU: February 8, 2007
2009-Current
Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 NA: February 10, 2009 PAL: February 20, 2009
Sega Genesis Classics Microsoft Windows January 26, 2011 (Vol. 4) Linux, macOS, PlayStation 4, Xbox One May 29, 2018 Nintendo Switch EU: December 6, 2018 NA: December 7, 2018
Sega Genesis Mini WW: September 19, 2019 EU, ME: October 4, 2019

The latest console release on the Sega Genesis Classics collection has neat features. It has all the comforts of fan-based video game emulators: fast forward, save states, quick save states, rewind, and screen filters. You can also disable the background wallpaper and have just a black screen.

Prelude Story

The Algo solar system, somewhere in space... Once a brilliant civilization flourished here. The citizens devoted themselves to art and the sciences, and life was prosperous and good. Then a series of disasters struck. The system-wide management system, 'Mother Brain,' was destroyed. So was the first planet, Parma. Over 90% of the system's population died, and the advanced technological culture was lost. The society declined, spiraling downward until at last only a few scattered groups even remembered there once were better times. A thousand years passed. At last, civilization is once more on the rise across the Algo system. People are again turning to thoughts of an easier life. Old knowledge is being rediscovered. But just as things look brighter, beyond a threshold long thought closed, a dark and very ancient evil stirs...

Battle System

A first battle

As a traditional RPG, its battle system should be self-explanatory, with a few unique features. The spells are called “Techniques” or “Techs”. And they have unique names. For example, “Foi”, “Gifoi”, and “Nafoi” are Fire 1, Fire 2, and Fire 3. Similarly, item names are just as eccentric - “Monomate”, “Dimate”, and “Trimate” are the standard names for common healing items.

Selecting a macro during battle

The battles have a feature not found in any other RPG: macros! By default, the first macro has everyone attack (an auto-battle). In a macro, you can preset the move of each character.

You know how in boss battles we always select the same strong attacks? Well, you can preset those attacks in a macro so that in a turn you only need to select that macro to automatically execute those attacks. This saves you the trouble of manually selecting their strongest attacks at every single turn. Or maybe you want to set a macro for random battles to have characters use their weak special attacks to conserve tech points (magic points).

Around a quarter into the game, you can begin learning Combination Attacks (or Spell Combos). This is probably the coolest feature of the game! When characters repeatedly execute certain attacks, they eventually begin combining the attacks for a single, strong attack.

My Opinion

There's no question about it, Phantasy Star IV is the best traditional-style RPG on the Sega Genesis. The graphics are gorgeous. The battle animations are so cool. The soundtrack is great. There are several songs I still casually listen to even today.

The manga-style storytelling (skipping dialogue)

The manga-style storytelling is my favorite feature. It really adds to the progression of the story and pulls you in. I just wish there was more of it because the manga-style storytelling tends to be heavy at the beginning of the game then dwindles in frequency.

Phantasy Star IV is a challenging game! The difficulty creeps up on you. Just when you think the game is smooth sailing, it hits you with a tough boss battle you can't beat. So spending time level-grinding is a must! Speaking of tough boss battles, one cool (and confusing) aspect of the game is continually fooling you into thinking you've reached the final battle. Dark Falz has always been the final boss in previous Phantasy Star games. In Phantasy Star IV, you fight him multiple times! The game kept making me think, “Oh! I already reached Dark Falz! What a short game.” - only to learn that was just one of his many forms.

I can't recommend Phantasy Star IV enough. It's a staple RPG that every fan of the Sega Genesis must play. Every time I purchase a new Genesis games collection, it's a game I always come back to and replay again. In particular, I love playing Phantasy Star IV on my Switch with the Sega Genesis Classics Collection.