Retro Thursday: Phantasy Star

Welcome to Retro Thursday, Leviathyn’s spotlight on retro gaming. Join us as we take a stroll down memory lane and pay homage to our roots by highlighting the classics of yesteryear.

Thursday, May 22

Phantasy Star

Hitting US shores before the likes of Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior, Phantasy Star is considered one of the first true RPGs of the NES era. Debuting on the Sega Master System, the game sported 8-bit graphics, a battery-backed RAM for in-game saves, and a litany of innovative conventions used in RPGs today.


In a deep and expansive tale, Phantasy Star told the story of Alis, a girl out for revenge after witnessing the death of her brother by the hands of a corrupt king. Throughout her travels, she is joined by three others; Noah,  a magic-wielding wizard; Odin the warrior; and Myau, a feline-type companion.  Spanning throughout four worlds, players found themselves embarking on a quest far longer than the typical shooters and platformers of the era. The game blended both traditional fantasy and sci-fi elements, departing from using strict classic fantasy lore already used by so many RPGs and introducing laser guns and space travel in the gameplay. It also featured a female protagonist (a rarity for the time), a four-person party system, turn-based combat, animated enemy sprites, and even allowed players to traverse maze-like 3D dungeons in a first-person perspective.

 Phantasy Star dared to do what no other previous game in the genre had by giving strong backstories to the main character and supporting NPCs. Even in all its pixelated glory, it still felt as epic to its players as a game like Mass Effect does now.

Despite its age, Phantasy Star remains relevant today for all the innovative elements it introduced into the genre. Because of this, it is considered one of the first and greatest RPGs in gaming history.