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Sega AGES Phantasy Star review for Nintendo Switch


Platform: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: SEGA, M2
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E

Here’s Phantasy Star on the Nintendo Switch, the latest in the Sega AGES releases and the first Master System game. Now if you’re old enough like me to remember when the Master System came out then you probably also remember how totally groundbreaking Phantasy Star was! Some people might still find it groundbreaking!

And if you don’t know then it’s a little like Final Fantasy but with mind blowing first-person dungeons in 3D perspectives starring an awesome cast. You play as Alis who is out to avenge her brother and kill the evil lord Lassic before he takes over whatever he can get his hands on. It was cool on the Master System and it’s still cool today.

But in this day and age people expect a little more from their RPGs and may not be interested in how older games used to play. Games like Phantasy Star, an old but great RPG. Well luckily the team at M2 has been updating the AGES releases with unique features that help each title feel a little more up to date. Phantasy Star is no different with the addition of an always present dungeon map that can be enabled or disabled if you just want to draw on grid paper yourself. And if that is your style then good luck!

Another welcome tweak is that you can adjust the game mode to reduce the overall grind. Now this doesn’t make the game battles themselves easier but like the addition of the map it’s a quality of life improvement that for people like me adds to my enjoyment of the game. This is the AGES mode in the menu screen, and when playing with it on you will encounter less battles but be rewarded with more experience and gold between them. In an unscientific test I fought a Were Bat in original mode which gave my party 11 experience points , then fighting the same Were Bat on AGES mode gave 44 experience points. So it’s in the ballpark of a multiple of x4 and I’m too lazy to check any further.

This greatly reduces the time spent battling enemies and for those looking just to revisit the game it’s a great way of taking that walk down memory lane without having to walk the whole way. More like taking a bike, or a wheelchair.

Luckily the AGES mode is independent from the map option, which is more of a display choice along with typical screen settings you can choose. Not sure which mode you’re using? Just look at the top of the screen like I do!

Can you tell the difference?

I also like how the Sega menus allow you to view equipment stats charts so you know if you’re getting a good deal on armor or what things like the TRANSER item does. It takes you to the last church you visited. Who’s supposed to know by that name?

Other options include the ability to play the Japanese version if you can read Japanese, and the ability to use FM audio which we never got over here. Granted some features like the grind rebalancing have been available in a previous release of Phantasy Star in a 2500 collection, but it’s nice to see them carried over.

But besides all that this is another quality port from M2 with just the right kind of additions to make playing an aged classic more tolerable and also more fun. The only thing missing is something like an auto-battle feature which would’ve been nice, but I’m also getting old and lazy. If you’re into first-person dungeon crawlers or just stopping by to revisit an old classic then it’s an easy recommendation.

Sega provided us with a Sega AGES Phantasy Star Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: A-