Sega has done it. On April 1st, 1998 Sega released Phantasy Star
Collection, a disc for the Sega Saturn that contains the games
Phantasy Star, Phantasy Star II, Phantasy Star III, and Phantasy Star End
Of The Millenium (PSIV in the United States.) The disc also contains
artwork from the series and television commercials for the games.
It seems very unlikely now that the game, which was released only in
Japan, will ever be translated for the American market... or any other
market, for that matter. Click on any of the thumbnails below to view
the larger image. You can find Gameshark codes here.
Included in the box, which is shown above, is a thick manual covering all
fours games, and the collection itself. Also included are three maps
covering Mota of PSII, a portion of Landen from PSIII, and Motavia from
PSIV. On the back of each map there are respective technique and item
charts. These maps are exactly the same as the ones originally included in
the games. Finally there is the jewel case with the Saturn disc itself,
labeled as part of the Sega Ages series. The entire packaging is enough to
bring a tear to the eye of anyone who bought PSI a decade ago, for as you
can see above it abounds with class and style that befit its designation
as a true classic.
Once you place the disc in your Saturn (assuming yours can
discs) you are greeted with the title screen shown above. A brief but
majestic and ethereal version of the first few seconds of the PSI
wilderness theme plays. After a short while, if you do not press Start,
the systems displays some animations.
First, it pans across a huge version of this
pic while "Phantasy Star Dec. 1987" float across the screen. Next, it
pans across a huge version of this
pic and "Phantasy Star II Mar. 1989" floats across. Next it pans
across a huge version of this
pic and "Phantasy Star III Apr. 1990" floats across. Finally, it pans
across a huge version of this pic
(without all the text and screenshots) and "Phantasy Star IV
Dec. 1993" floats across the screen. During all of this, one of the
super-techno songs from PSIV plays.
After that the four Japanese PS television commercials will play. Pressing
Start takes you to a menu with the following choices, in English. As you
select each choice, a voice announces your selection in English.
-----Selecting Option simply allows you to choose between stereo and mono
-----Selecting Art Gallery takes you to another selection screen that
you to choose between Movies and Illustrations. These choices are in
Japanese text, but the voice-overs are still English. Selecting Movies
takes you to a screen with the four PS titles displayed. Selecting any of
the titles plays the appropriate commercial.
Selecting Illustrations takes you to another screen with the four titles,
but this screen has a background image of Nei, Myau, Mieu, Rika, and a
Chirper. A version of this pic with added background elements
(clutter) can be seen
here. On this screen, a light and
airy high-tonal version of the PSI town song (the song I most associate
with PSI when I think about the game.)
Choosing PSI leads you to a navigable set of ten images, one per screen.
Most of the images are available at this site. An up-tempo pseudo-rock
version of the PSI dungeon theme plays (the creepy and intense one.)
Choosing PSII leads you to a navigable set of 15 images, one per screen.
About ten of these are available here.
Choosing PSIII leads you to a navigable set of 23 images, one per screen.
Fifteen of these are available here. I believe that the music is that of
when you are flying Wren around in PSIII, but I am not sure (shows how
much I've played it!)
Choosing PSIV leads you to a navigable set of 167 images, one per screen.
Many of these images are available here, many are not. I cannot place the
music here, though it is definitely from PSIV (obviously.)
Of these 215 images, almost all of them are in the PS Compendium book.
However, some are not in the book or at this site... and
most of those are incredible ... I'll look into someway getting
snaps of them.
-----Selecting Game Select leads you to a screen that displays the cover
image to the PSI box, sans logos and text. You can move right or
left to bring up images of the other three box art images. A very soft and
mellow tune plays in the background... it's sounds like most of the PSIII
title theme, but I may be wrong.
Each of the games is in Japanese, though some of the title elements and
credits are in English. You wouldn't be able to play these unless you knew
Japanese, or were so familiar with the games that you knew each of the
menus by heart. The video quality is sharper than anything you'd get out
of a Master System or Genesis, assuming you have an RCA, S-Video, or RGB
setup for your Saturn. If you have a Saturn and use an RF-modulation unit
(coaxial cable) then I expect that the video quality would be comparable
to a Master System or Genesis. Sound quality is better only due to a
better connection (RCA vs. RF mod coax.)
When you start each game, the traditional respective boot-up sequences of
the machines (Sega Mark III and Genesis) come on. At any time during the
games you can exit back to the PS Collection title screen by pressing
The system checks your available RAM when starting each game, and provides
you with a message if you do not have enough. Amounts suggested for the
games are: 129 blocks for PSI, III, and IV, and 65 blocks for PSII. I
don't know if these are minimum requirements or optimum requirements. I
believe that you would need that amount for each saved game, so it
can really add up.
Selecting PSI allows you to choose between hiragana or katakana font for
the game. It runs in a window (!) that doesn't quite
fill the whole screen. Once the game starts, it is for all intents and
purposes identical to PSI. I did notice, however, that the sound has
lower tones than my American SMS version... I don't know if that is due to
an intentional change, of if the original Japanese version sounded the
same. Makuchan, a PS fan from Japan, told me that it is the FM sound
version (not available in America) and not the PSG sound version (both FM
and PSG were available in Japan, I believe.) There is no option to switch
to PSG sound. Also, it seems as though the colors are more subdued than
both the SMS and ROM-emulated PC versions.
Selecting PSII allows you to choose between normal walking speed and a
very fast walking speed (which appears to be at least as fast as, if not
faster than, PSIV's walking speed.) The speed of other features, including
the battles, is unaffected. PSII runs full screen, and the music and
colors seems exactly the same as I remember them from the Genesis.
Selecting PSIII allows you to choose between normal walking speed and a
very fast walking speed (which again is at least as fast as PSIV's walking
speed.) What's funny here is that since PSIII had the most realistic
walking animations of any of the games, the characters actually seem like
they're power-walking! Colors and sound are as I remember them. One
nice feature is that there are now four saved game slots instead of
Selecting PSIV takes you straight to the game, without any options.
Everything seems identical to the Genesis version.
- - - - - - - - - -
Overall this is a wonderful item for PS fans seeking the ease of use of
having all four games in one place, as well as more save positions for
PSIII-- if you can handle the Japanese text. It also makes the inevitable
battery loss of the originals irrelevant. The four commercials and 200+
pics are a nice touch as well... though I really wished they had added
some FMV intros to the games.
As it stands, unless you are a die-hard Japanese game player, this package
only serves as a product of nostalgia... exquisite nostalgia, but
nostalgia nonetheless. If this was a final endnote to the PS series I'd
say that they could have put a grander effort into it... but since it
seems that this disc is a bridge to a relaunch of the series on the next
Sega console, I'm very pleased with the final product. I tend to think of
it as a fond recognition of the triumphs of the past, just as a bright
future begins to loom ahead.