Game Review Data
Game Title
Phantasy Star Collection
1 Player. Battery Save. 3 Different Games.
Andrew Blanchard



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Yet another aging classic makes its way to the GBA thanks mainly to SEGA's seemingly endless library of games. Phantasy Star was arguably SEGA's first real hit making it one of the first "must have" titles for their own Master System. Unbelievably, the game was actually released in Japan in 1987 only days before Square unleashed its own RPG, Final Fantasy.

The conversion duties have gone to GBA experts Digital Eclipse and while they're generally unbeatable with original titles, I'm sure there's a huge temptation to enhance these conversions in some way. Obviously, this will appeal to the more modern audience but annoy the gaming enthusiasts who wish to enjoy the game just as it was all those years ago. Do we have a pleasant trip down Memory Lane then or a collection of games that should have remained in the past?

Screen Shots


Outside of the story the ingredients of the average Role Playing Game are pretty standard: wander around chatting to some people, battling others (and the odd monster) and collecting/trading items and skills. Now, armed with that information, imagine the Golden Suns of this world brought to their simplest level and you'll have some idea what Phantasy Star Collection is all about. That's not to be critical because quite simply that's how it was all done then. This does make for a rather menu-heavy experience though as almost everything your character does requires an interaction of some description. With even battles fought using this system, some gamers may become frustrated by the lack of on-screen action when performing virtually any task. It's still a reasonably entertaining story though with the designers clearly letting their imaginations run wild producing some rather weird and wonderful (if occasionally a little spaced out) plot twists.


By today's standards it's all pretty basic stuff with the interface to each of the three instalments becoming slightly more complicated. It's kept to a minimum though and as everything is concentrated on the standard layout, you'll never even approach the shoulder buttons. Most actions are carried out by a simple button press with a lot apparently happening automatically, which does at least mean you're unlikely to hit the dreaded 'brick wall' as occasionally happens with modern RPGs. As you'd expect, it's all pretty responsive too with nothing really demanding the type of split second timing that most modern titles require.


Before we even touch on the visuals in Phantasy Star Collection, you have to remember that these graphics were created some ten years ago and although gaming ideas were just as imaginative as they are today, 8 bit graphics just weren't up to the job. With that in mind, get ready for an exercise in 'how things used to look'. Before any notion of a 3D environment was developed, this is how games were illustrated. It's not all bad though and the majority of on screen characters are well drawn and the various areas they encounter are simple but effective. These early games definitely don't have cluttered environments, which is actually refreshing, and it should be remembered that when visuals were this basic the designers had to put much more effort into the gameplay.

Sound & Music

If graphics were minimalist back in the 1980's, then audio was even more so and in the name of authenticity, Digital Eclipse have ported over the various audio elements to the GBA version too. Like most of the sounds from this generation of video games, this is less than impressive and listening to such a bland collection of beeps on the GBA's superior sound chip is a little painful. There are some highlights but not enough for you to justify turning up the volume.

Final Comments

It's difficult to come to any concrete conclusion as to just how good or bad Phantasy Star Collection is. While it's a faithful conversion of the original, it pales in comparison when put against the modern and significantly more sophisticated RPGs. It really is all down to personal preference but I would suggest that this is far more appealing to gamers who recall these titles from the first time around and no longer own the carts or indeed a Master System.

While as a GBA owner you have to welcome any new release, you can't help but be a little cynical about all these re-releases and rather like the movie industry, you have to question whether the creative element within interactive entertainment is starting to lose its edge. If after all this you discover that this collection is for you, then there's a lot of gaming to be had here and it's ideally suited to a long trip of any kind. A really long trip.

@ EAGB Advance 2002. All rights reserved.