Platform: Sega Mega Drive
Phantasy Star was a success for Sega. The game sold well enough for a sequel to be made quite quickly, and while one would be forgiven for expecting it to be a direct sequel again starring Alis, it turned out to be something else entirely and just as important to the growth of Japanese Role-Playing Games.
Year: 1987 Genre: JRPG Developer: Sega Publisher: Sega Platform: Sega Master System
Phantasy Star has an odd legacy. The series is generally remembered for its (admittedly amazing) online outings. The original games Phantasy Star Online was spun-off from, however, are secretly very important to the evolution of Japanese Role-Playing Games as they are today – for better or worse.
On December 20, 1987 – just two days after SquareSoft bet the future of their company on a little game called Final Fantasy – Sega released Phantasy Star for their Mark III console, which would later come to other territories as the Master System. Phantasy Star begins on planet Palma (sometimes localized as Palm due to character limits) in the Algol star system. The heroine, Alis Landale, watches as her brother is left bloodied and dying on the pavement by Stormtrooper look-a-likes for attempting to meddle in the ruler, King Lassic’s affairs. With his last breath, Nero tells Alis to seek out a man named Odin and put an end to Lassic’s tyranny. The intro alone has a narrative both more in-depth and prominent that the contemporaries of the time, Dragon Quest I and II, which hardly had plots outside of “there is an evil thing, please end it”. Also notable is its use of a female protagonist. There had been a couple up to this point, namely Metroid‘s Samus Aran, but it was still rare.
Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Platform: Sega Mega Drive, Sega Mega CD, Commodore Amiga
Traveller’s Tales have an interesting history in that though they’ve been around since the early 90’s and have developed a lot of great selling games (i.e., the Lego series of games), they’ve never actually had their own intellectual property – they’ve always done work for other people. They started off working with Psygnosis (now known as Studio Liverpool and sadly made defunct by Sony Computer Entertainment) on Leander, an Amiga game similar to Shadow of the Beast and a game based on the movie Bram Stoker’s Dracula for the Mega Drive and Super Nintendo (other console versions were handled by Probe Entertainment or an internal Psygnosis team). Their third game, Puggsy, is something special.