ARCHIVE: Phantasy Star – Part 5

Day 7

So it’s the end of my Phantasy Star “week”, so to speak. With the helpful proddings of the walkthroughs, I found the hovercraft, and wondered if maybe I had listened to the man’s speech about it but just didn’t realize it was a hint about what to do (Editor: after all, in the original draft of these journals, I had a running problem of forgetting town and planet names!). I secured the hovercraft and almost immediately found a dungeon off the coast of the junk town where I had found Hapsby the Robot. Inside the dungeon, I found a Laconian Sword guarded by a Red Dragon at the top. You know, those Red Dragons I had wiped out en masse on the way to Noah’s master? Here we go…

I gave the Sword to Alis and kept searching the Palman oceans until I had found a microscopic, mechanical island somewhere south of the Peninsula Dungeon. There, I found a monster-free dungeon that had a shop in it (…why this layout, designers?) and was delighted to find that they sold “Gas Shields.” I bought one and used it to probe the gas town on Motavia, where I was told where to find a mystical shield. Not the Laconian Shield, mind (I already knew where that was, so I would be pretty bitter if that was the end result of all this fussing). No: they were talking about the Mirror Shield I bet I would need to beat Medusa. I found the Shield hidden on a nondescript square on a small island, classic ugly 80s. Only Odin could use the Shield, so I strapped it on and went off. No thanks, by the way, to walkthroughs all over the internet that can’t seem to agree on its location. It’s probably random.

After double-checking the walkthroughs, I confirmed my next destination had to be Dezoris. At this point, repeated mostly everything I had done on Day 5, without as much cowardly running, and death. I even got the Laconian Shield!

This is Horseman shit.

I also bought the Ice Digger and found, to my chagrin, that it can only dig through preset but indistinct patches of ice on the overworld. That’s just… I… listen here, 1987!

I returned yet again to the walkthroughs, and yes, I did come in to this promising I wouldn’t use walkthroughs, but I assure you that every path in the ice has absolutely zero indication that you should drill in that location, and yet there are whole mazes honeycoming the Dezoran overworld. I would have never found all the things in that world unless I had been at my most interested, which I most certainly was not, and even that’s not a guarantee. With the walkthroughs’ help, I explored three dungeons:

  • A morgue filled with zombies, which is a pretty cool idea to see in an 80s sci-fi game. The only hint that this is a morgue is the ridiculous line I made fun of days ago. “The dead Guaron Morgue have been called back to life! What fear!” From dialogue elsewhere, I learned that the Laconian Armour was in here, but frankly I would have found it anyway as it was barely hidden. I gave it to Odin, as Alis had a set of Diamond Armour I bought on Motavia before we left.
  • A cave (that I would have never, ever found), which held an Aeroprism. This could be used to make Lassic’s flying fortress appear when at the top of Baya Malay.
  • An Eclipse Torch held at the top of Corona Tower, the most obnoxious dungeon to date thanks to its perfectly identical intersections dotted with pit traps that had me “playing” the main menu more than the actual game.

At this point I was at a loss. I could make Lassic’s fortress appear, but had no way of getting to it. It was clear I would need to turn Myou into a flying monstrocity to reach it (hey, remember that? Also hey, remember when this game made sense?), the trouble was, I still needed a special nut to do that. The Dezorans claimed a special tree grew on the planet that could help me, but I couldn’t find it. And what on earth was I supposed to do with a magic torch?

Walkthrough time again, followed by screaming. First off, the tree could be found by tunnelling through a wall of ice I could only access from the middle of the Dezoran tunnels, thanks to Dragon Ball Z Capsule Corporation technology that lets you carry vehicles like the Ice Driller in your pocket. Next, the tree has to be melted with the torch, EVEN THOUGH the Dezorans made it perfectly clear I needed to use the Crystal from Baya Malay to get the nut, not a torch, to get it. Now, there’s a few things to say about that.

First, okay, yes, the Dezorans lie a lot. The trouble is, this isn’t like their easily reversed lies like “Go Left.” Without the Crystal hint, there’s really no hint that you’re supposed to use the torch on the tree. Yes, it’s frozen, but at the same time, this is an 80s game with a limited colour palette! And what if I had held out to get the Crystal? There’s reasonable way I could have had the Crystal at this point in the game. After all, I got it from Baya Malay, where I was not supposed to be!

About the only relief I got after I set foot on Dezoris, home of five-strong mammoth packs, each member stronger than any other enemy in the game so far, bosses included, was to Fly back to Palma, save and turn off the game. The whole section needs to be redesigned. What fear indeed.

Next time I play, I’m finally going after Medusa. Once that’s done, there’s nothing between me and Lassic except Baya Malay and who knows what else. We’ll see how it goes.

Day 8

I’m done! Well, what can I say… Medusa’s Tower was simple, considering I was massively overlevelled, and was ultimately a pointless side-trip as I barely ever used the Laconic Axe that served as its only prize. See, the game’s unbelievably shoddy math encourages the fixed-damage Laser Gun over the variable damage axe. Even though the Axe is Odin’s best weapon, I was still doing less than the Laser Gun’s 20 damage on most monsters, though it would rarely go as high as 60! All in all, it was better to use the weapon that always did 20 to every monster in a group at all times than to switch in the Axe at the right moments. Hell, I wanted to use it on single-target bosses because it was just more reliable against their heavy armour that nerfed the axe. For whatever internal reason, the Axe hated armour so much that it really just took up space!

I returned to Baya Malay, which took a long time even though I had been there before – plus, I was being more cautious now that I knew the final boss was waiting on the other end. I also got confused, because I travelled down numerous sets of stairs despite the fact that I was supposed to be going up to a sky palace!

When I reached the top, I used the Aeroprism and the nuts to head to Lassic’s floating fortress, but was attacked by a Gold Dragon along the way. The Dragon didn’t stand a chance against me, though in hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have used any of Noah’s magic to defeat it, as it compromised my fight with Lassic later on. Sorry, Noah, I had to assume that bosses from this point on would be threats, you know? The only way to recover MP in this game is with Inns, and I can’t imagine Lassic was going to fluff my pillow now that I had killed his guard dog.

The next part of the dungeon was Lassic’s manor, which involved a fight against his shadow (a Dr. Mad recolour) and ended with a fight against the man himself. I started the fight by trying to use the Crystal, repeatedly, each time to no effect, except the loss of my turn! I had to check a walkthrough to understand that the Crystal was weakening Lassic just by its presence. I can’t think of any other game that had passive enhancements stored in the common inventory. Yet another way in which Phantasy Star suffers for going in a different direction than the rest of the genre over the intervening decades!

(Editor: I later discovered Mother / Earthbound Zero doing the same thing, but that was released two years later. Any other examples?)

Lassic actually attacks your characters’ info boxes, it’s a neat touch.

Lassic threw me around a few times, game overs and all, esepecially thanks to my trying to shake a Crystal in his face over and over. I beat him on the third try, if I didn’t mess up my count. The game then enthusiastically reminded me that I promised to tell the Governor of Motavia that I was done with Lassic. You know, the one who offered me a bed for the night and I was attacked by demonic nightmares? Oh game, you so sneaky.

I went to Motavia (my last fight in the wild was against a Scorpion of all things) and took advantage of the free inn outside the manor before entering. I was only steps inside the manor before they dropped me into a pit trap.

The Governor’s manor was mostly straightforward as a dungeon, except for a secret door in the third-last room. It ended with a fight against Dark Falz, the central villain of the Phantasy Star series (“Dark Force” in later games). Falz, with his invisible health bar, attacked twice a turn, each attack taking full advantage of the broken math system running behind the game: he would do 10 damage in some blows and 60 in others. I was soon wondering: would this entire fight come down to luck. The answer… as disappointed as I am to admit this… was yes.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out this game’s true final boss: a door that doesn’t show up unless you face a random stretch of wall.

I probably could have used Myau’s attack-boosting Help spell a bit more than I did, like the walkthroughs suggest, but all-in-all there was nothing I could do to win the final boss fight but pray Falz would take out my party members in inverse order of usefulness, which eventually happened. Most useless was Odin, whose Laser Cannon did less damage on an average turn than Alis’ Fire spell and whose Axe was not doing any damage at all. Next was Noah, who was fine while his magic lasted, the trouble was that it eventually ran out, after which point he may as well wave his arms and cluck like a chicken to keep Dark Falz distracted. Alis was passably useful, but to my disbelief she proved incapable of hitting Falz in combat. Even Noah managed a few hits off of it! Stupid RNG. As a result, I needed her to use magic just like Noah, and the only reason I consider her more useful than him is because she served as a better meat shield. No, the party’s only real hero was Myau the space-cat, whose astronomical attack stat just stood on its own, and who eventually dealt the killing blow just before Alis died.

In the end, the Governor appeared and was like: “Oh, I must have been possessed,” and I don’t know about Alis and friends, but I wasn’t buying it. Thankfully, not only does the game seem to imply that he truly was innocent, but the Governor knows how to make a bribe for his life like no one I’ve ever seen. He promised Alis the throne of the entire star, the Algo System, and you even got to choose if you wanted to take it. I had her take it, and we were taken to a brief epilogue at Baya Malay, followed by a cool credits sequence with the credits written on the walls of a dungeon as the camera walked through it. The credits were spotted with the usual 80’s credits nonsense (“Story: April Fool”?), and that was it!

Now that I feel safer checking out background stuff, I’ve learned that “Lassic” would more literally be “La Sheic” from the translation. Interesting!

Phantasy Star 1 Complete! Now it’s time for me to un-learn first person dungeon crawls (unless I do Shining in the Darkness, I guess) and move on to the traditional RPG madness of PS2!

Prev: Phantasy Star – Part 4
Next: Phantasy Star 2 – Part 1

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