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Phantasy Star IV: What Did Critics Say Back in 1995?
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on June 06, 2014   |   Episode 52 (Show Archive)  

   

Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium (Sega Genesis)
Ever wonder what Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and other popular magazines thought of your favorite 8-, 16- and 32-bit games? Now you can find out, thanks to Review Crew! This is the only show on the internet that is willing to go back in time to find out what old school critics thought of retro games at the time. Did they pan your favorite game? Did they love something terrible? Find out every Monday, Wednesday and Friday as Defunct Games presents Review Crew!

Phantasy Star IV was not just the End of the Millennium, but also the final 16-bit entry in the role-playing series. And with a $100 asking price, the end came with a steep barrier for entry. Were critics able to get over the high price and enjoy Phantasy Star IV, or did they turn on this long-running series? We dig through old issues of Die Hard Game Fan, Electronic Gaming Monthly, Mean Machines Sega and Game Informer for the answers.

(NOTE: Although we occasionally cut for length, no other edits are made to the review. Defunct Games does not change any of the wording, grammar or punctuation use. Also keep in mind that our score is the average of all critics at the time, not just the sample that is reprinted on this page. If you still have more questions, I recommend you check out the Review Crew FAQ, where we address the review guidelines, converting scores, magazine covers and more.)

Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium
[ Company: Sega | Console: Genesis ]

DIE HARD GAME FAN (April 1995)
97% out of 100%

"The ultimate Sega RPG has finally arrived. Although it mis-translated and has little connection to the previous games because of this, the game itself is the same and is undeniably one of the greatest RPGs ever fashioned. The graphics are beautiful, the music is powerful, and the non-stop original ideas make this cartridge an absolute must-own for the RPG enthusiast, chintzy packaging or not." -NickRox

ELECTRONIC GAMING MONTHLY #69
8.5 out of 10

"Having blown through the second and third games, I awaited PS4 as a welcome challenge and was not disappointed. The new magic technique where you combine magic spells was a plus. Everything from the large quest to the many characters will keep you glued to the TV; I know I was. Or maybe it was the fact that the game costs almost $100. Ouch! It's a great game, but the price will frighten many players away." -Dano

MEAN MACHINES SEGA #33
88% out of 100%

"Sega haven't released a proper RPG since, oh the end of WWII. Soleil and Thor are all very well, but they possess more action than strategic elements. Even Shining Force is more strategy game than adventure game. Whereas, Phantasy Star is pure, fulfilling adventure at its very best, if you like that sort of thing. The best pure RPG for the Megadrive, but deemed fit only for the 'Land of the Free'. Denied!" -Steve

GAME INFORMER (January 1995)
8 out of 10

"Although this game may slightly (only slightly) disappoint fans of the series, Genesis owners should rejoice that another RPG is available on the Sega. However, the graphics are still mediocre and the control on the overhead view is sloppy. Overall, Phantasy Star IV is a good RPG that should pacify its fans." -Andy, The Game Hombre

GAMEPRO (February 1995)
4 out of 5

"Phantasy Star IV is the latest installment in the monster of all Genesis RPGs, yet it never gives you the sense that you're about to embark on something special. Ah, but you are! In the end, End of the Millennium is amazingly rich in detail and will keep your TV screen bright as you explore everything and everywhere long after the rest of the house slumbers." -Peteroo

ELECTRONIC GAMING MONTHLY #69
7 out of 10

"When I started PS4, it seemed I wasn't going to enjoy it at all because of how slow the story developed. Well, it took a while, but I found myself really getting into this game. The weapons, the magic, the potions, the characters and their abilities were all great. On the down side, I thought the graphics should have been cleaner and less dithered, and the music was a minor disturbance. All in all, a good game for the PS series." -Al

GAME PLAYERS (February 1995)
70% out of 100%

"How can Sega hope to compete in the RPG world with the top SNES RPGs like Final Fantasy III and The Secret of Mana if Phantasy Star doesn't evolve? Still, fans of the series are gonna find that the adventure is well worth the wait, if only to play the same game they fell in love with four-titles ago. And with the poor selection of decent Genesis RPGs these days, who's going to argue?" -Chris Slate

NEXT GENERATION #3
3 out of 5

"If you're one of the many RPG-starved Genesis owners who have been waiting diligently for this game, don't worry -- it's still plenty of fun. But with nothing that goes above or beyond the previous titles - including the same 'mysterious' end boss - the future of this series isn't very bright."

GAME INFORMER (January 1995)
6 out of 10

"I sat and played this game for about six hours, continually hoping that it would get better. The sorry part is that it never did. Unlike its preceding games, this game goes way too fast. To tell the truth, I will probably play Phantasy Star III, quite possibly, Shining Force II more than PS IV." -Ross, The Rebel Gamer
REVIEW CREW AVERAGE: 79% - Phantasy Star may not have gone out on a high note, but the expensive Genesis cartridge certainly had a few vocal fans. Mean Machines Sega called Phantasy Star IV "pure, fulfilling adventure at its very best," and Die Hard Game Fan said it was "ultimate Sega RPG." It seems that most magazines respected Phantasy Star's final 16-bit outing, even if they didn't give it high marks.

Unfortunately, respect alone couldn't keep critics from picking Phantasy Star IV apart. Game Informer complains it's "too fast," GamePro argues that "it never gives you the sense that you're about to embark on something special," and Electronic Gaming Monthly noted that the "graphics should have been cleaner and less dithered." And let's not forget about Next Generation magazine, which made this prediction: "The future of this series isn't very bright."

Of the three 16-bit Phantasy Star games, The End of the Millennium was the lowest rated. Even with Die Hard Game Fan's high scores, the game only managed 79%. On the other hand, this isn't far off from Phantasy Star II and Phantasy Star III, which averaged 81% and 82%, respectively. According to the old school critics, Phantasy Star III was the best in the series. I wonder how many fans agree.

ON MONDAY'S EPISODE: With Phantasy Star week all wrapped up, it's time to shake things up by returning to the Super NES. On Monday's episode of Review Crew, expect high-speed racing action when Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and more review F-Zero for the Super NES. Was it better than Pilotwings? Find out on Monday. Make sure and check out the Review Crew archive for more old school reviews, and don't forget to tweet me @DefunctGames to let me know what games you want to see next!

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