Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom is the black sheep of the Phantasy Star series.
Phantasy Star III – Generations of Doom Review
Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom is one of the most unfairly lambasted games on the Sega Genesis. It was originally released on April 21st, 1990 in Japan, then later localized for North America and released here in the Summer of 1991 after a very long wait for fans of the series. It was the first Phantasy Star game to be developed without any major involvement by Yuji Naka or Rieko Kodama, who were both busy with other projects. Instead of waiting, Sega decided to hand it off to new leads, who produced a different kind of Phantasy Star game.
It is of my opinion that fans of the first two games were so quickly thrown off by it’s different setting (medieval instead of sci-fi) that they didn’t give PSIII much of a chance to begin with. Often, people will write about it being completely disconnected from it’s peers that it presents you with one fact: they didn’t play this game for very long at all. I won’t go into a lot of detail about this so that I might spare some plot details to uncover on your own.
My first experience with the game came from a rental store in early 1992. I bought it for $10 a handful of months after it’s release and took it home. By that time, I was a hardcore console RPG junkie. I had played every RPG released for the Genesis, Master System, or the NES that I could get ahold of. I had seen PSIII in magazines before and was looking forward to my first hands-on experience.
I then proceeded to play the game for the next few weeks and enjoyed it the whole time. There ya go, fellows. Living proof that playing Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom for the Sega Genesis is not guaranteed to give you AIDs, kill your parents and pets, or provide Chevy Chase with a new talk show that will fail within five weeks. Oops. Perhaps I can’t prove that it didn’t cause the last accused crime, but I digress.
The first thing anyone mentions when writing about PSIII is the diverging plot lines. Eventually, as you make progress through the game, you are given an option of potential mates. This affects the offspring that you get to play as. Ah, you say — this is where the whole “generations” thing comes into play. Right you are, Watson! Ultimately, this provides you with four different endings for the game, as well as other effects on the game world.
The battle system in the game is… much different from the other games in the series. When it’s time to input commands for your party, the cursor defaults to an option where your party auto-attacks for one round. It’s fitting, as you will be selecting it the overwhelming majority of the time. Techniques play a very diminished role in comparison to the other Phantasy Star games.
You can still select individual commands for your party members or even set the entire battle to auto-attack if you wish. Most random battles will be a joke, so the ease of not going through 4-5 individual selections is actually welcome. It’s only when you confront the major encounters that you have to employ any serious strategy.
One of the most unique aspects of Phantasy Star III is it’s music. If I were a proper music critique, perhaps I could explain to you how it makes me feel or what’s particularly interesting about it to me. Unfortunately, I do not possess the knowledge to do so. I don’t think I’ve ever heard any other Genesis games producing some of the sounds you hear in PSIII’s compositions.
Phantasy Star III’s biggest flaw, in my book, is it’s somewhat weak presentation and translation. The graphics weren’t very impressive compared to other releases at the time. The cutscenes were few and far between. The script is very basic. Sometimes, there are few clues as to what you should be doing next. When held up to it’s predecessors and other games released at the time (Final Fantasy IV, for example), PSIII is just not on the same level.
So there you have it, my hastily thrown together defense for a game that the world seems to loathe. Granted, there are some things that bug me when I go back and play PSIII today, nearly 20 years later. However, I think the fact is that the game really isn’t as terrible as most people say it is. It just isn’t as polished as PSIV, as big as PSII, or as groundbreaking as the original Phantasy Star… and that’s okay. A lot of games don’t measure up to the other entries in this phenomenal RPG series that graced consoles that needed them.
Phantasy Star III Screenshots
Phantasy Star III Videos
Phantasy Star III Wallpapers
Check out our Phantasy Star III wallpapers collection below.
Phantasy Star III Scans
Here is the North American print ad for the game.
Phantasy Star III Merchandise
Sega of America made a Phantasy Star III Hint Book available through mail order. Purchasers of the game received a pamphlet letting them know one was available. The cost was $14.95. If you click the cover below, you can download the 74MB PDF scan of it! I recommend right-clicking it and saving it to your harddrive to view.
A set of two “Attack Manuals” were published in Japan by Sega in October 1990. Luckily for Western fans, the walkthrough sections of the book are essentially identical to the North American hint book. The first book on the left covers Rhys and Ayn’s quests, the second book covers Nial’s and the third generation.
Another Japanese hint book was published by Sega in Japan as well. It is 84 pages and contains a 4 page comic chronically the opening of the game. The guide only covers Rhys’ quest.
Here’s a book from Futaba (ISBN #9784575761597 ), released on September 12th, 1990 for ¥ 451. This is a cool book similar to the Western “Choose Your Own Adventure” series of books. They published books for Phantasy Star I, II and III. If you click on the cover below, you can download the 70 MB PDF scan of the book! I recommend right-clicking it and saving it to your harddrive to view.
The game’s Chief Character Designer Toyo Ozaki has published doujin books for the game. First up is Phantasy Star III Character Book, with two versions existing. These books contain character sketches and original comics by her and her husband Masaki Segawa.
The first on the left is the original, published in January 1999 with 126 pages. The second on the right is the “Diet” version, which was published in October 2002 and sold for ¥ 800. It is printed on cheaper paper and lacks one full color page. I believe you can still order them from her here. Some fan translations of some pages can be found here.
In April 2011, Toyo Ozaki published another smaller doujin comic called Another Royal for ¥ 100. It is 8 pages in length and features additional story from the game. You can still order it from her here
Obviously, you can find some PS III art and information in the Phantasy Star compendium book (also known as Phantasy Star Koushiki Settei Shiryoushuu (ファンタシースター公式設定資料集)) produced by Sega and published by SoftBank in late 1995. You can find some scanned translations of the book here.
There is a little bit of PS III content in the 25th Anniversary Phantasy Star Visual Chronicles book (ISBN #: 4047288853) released on March 30th, 2013 by Enterbrain. A good bit of it’s 192 pages are devoted to the more recent Phantasy Star Online 2, though. Since the book is fairly recent, you can actually still order a copy from Play-Asia!
Released in Japan during December of 1993, The World of Phantasy Star is a 130 page book focused primarily on Phantasy Star I and II, with only a few pages devoted to Phantasy Star III. It was released to help promote Phantasy Star IV.
You can find a number of scans from it here.
Music from Phantasy Star III (as well as PSI + PSII) is available in Phantasy Star Collection Sound Collection 1 album from Rock-Za (Catalog #RS-1). It was published in November 1993 for ¥ 3,700 and is a 2 disc set. The first contains music from the games and the second features arranged versions. A second release from Rock-Za features music from PS IV only.
And, finally, I’ll close this out with a video of the S.S.T. Band performing the PS III main theme at 1990´s Game Music Festival.
Ports & Remakes
-Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom has been ported to many different platforms!
It was released in the Saturn’s Sega Ages: Phantasy Star Collection (SEGA AGES ファンタシースターコレクション) in Japan on April 2nd, 1998 for 4,800 yen. It has all four of the main Phantasy Star games with a bunch of enhancements and options. You can play the games in katakana or hiragana and there’s an optional speed increase for party members in PS III. Some omake features were included on the disc, with arranged music, art galleries, and Japanese commercials for the games.
It’s also in the GBA Phantasy Star Collection released in the US on November 26th, 2002 and in Europe on March 7th, 2003. This compilation features the first three main games in the series. This compilation has an exclusive feature the others do not: the chance for Phantasy Star 1 to crash when saving. Yuck.
The PS2 saw the release of Sega Ages 2500 Series Vol. 32: Phantasy Star Complete Collection (SEGA AGES 2500シリーズ Vol.32 ファンタシースター コンプリートコレクション) on March 7th, 2008 in Japan for 2,500 yen. The game would later be available on the PS3’s PSN service on December 19th, 2012.
This compilation features all four main entries again along with the Game Gear and Mega Drive side games, all emulated and collected on one disc. It has some additional options, like speeding up the walking of your party in the first Phantasy Star.
The PS3 and Xbox 360 saw the release of Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection in North American, Europe, and Australia; all released in February of 2009.
Phantasy Star III can also be found on the Wii’s Virtual Console service and Steam.
Credits – Credits for the game.
Walkthrough – Voltron’s walkthrough for the game.
Secrets – Secrets and cheats for the game.
-Some of the wallpapers come from ShinForce.