Phantasy Star Memories!
Back in 1987 I bought a used Sega master system because all my favorite arcade games were Sega. Then in 1988 I remember all the hype about an RPG game called Phantasy Star. All the magazines had reviews. I remember looking at dungeon screen shots and comparing them with Ultima 1 and 2. The more I saw the more I wanted it. That is until I saw the $75 dollar price tag. I don't remember any game back then being over $50. Then all the praise continued from people that had it and 2 months later some store had it on sale for $56 (strange how I remember this exactly:) so I bought it.
The next 5 weeks of my life were spent in front of a TV with this game playing on it. I wouldn't even let the kids play Alex Kidd :) I made maps, took notes, kept a journal which I can't find :( and basically lived the game.
the last week I was at the end of the game. But I was stuck. I was maxed out in money and points. But the final battle eluded me. I had forgotten a tip about a hidden door. I finally called the hint line. It was free (well a ld call anyway) I waited on hold for 45 minutes and had the answer in 10 seconds. A look at the map, a slap on the forehead :) and then a triumphant finishing of the game. It actually felt ok to know I wouldn't be playing this game again.
So all the hype was justified. I think about this time the word on the mega drive was starting to come out. And talk of a sequel. I guess that influenced my decision to get a genesis when they first came out. That Christmas my parents bought me and the kids a genesis. The following Christmas my parents bought Phantasy Star II. I made a deal with my mom for her to keep the hint book until Easter that year and not to let us see it until then. I was playing this game off and on for those 3 months and hadn't even gotten half way through it. I started keeping track of the hours I spent playing after I got the hint book. It took me 118 hours from that point. Well over a year and a half after I started playing it. I think I had tears in my eyes watching the ending.
When Phantasy Star III came out the reviews didn't look so good even though Sega was full of great things to say about it. I did rent it and my son beat it in like 2 days.
I have not seen number 4 yet but have heard it's closer to number 2 in quality..
I think a Phantasy Star 5 on Sega's new game machine (Katana? Dural?) at the time of release would put them back on top of the video game world.
Update 2001. Phantasy Star Online. Waiting to get one for $20 or a trade so I can report on it :)