After a string of text adventures based off of Phantasy Star II for its short-lived Game Toshokan service, Sega produced two more spin-offs in 1992, this time for the Game Gear. The first to be released was Phantasy Star Adventure. In most ways a continuation of the text adventures, it reprises their mechanics and general design, with, of course, a major exception: there is art depicting every scene and location this time around. Though we don’t know exactly who worked on it as they aren’t credited, some of the characters bear a strong resemblance to Toyo Ozaki’s designs for Phantasy Star III, in a slightly more manga style.
As before, you interact with NPCs, solve basic inventory-based puzzles via menu commands, do a bit of shopping, and occasionally fight dice-based, turn-by-turn battles involving more luck than skill. You don’t level up – there aren’t enough battles to justify it – but you do get a few different weapons, which affect the number of dices you throw per attack and the multiplier applied to their sum.
There are some minor quality-of-life improvements, such as a map which is accessible from the start and a password system. They aren’t especially necessary, as the game isn’t any longer or more complicated than its text-based counterparts, clocking in at about an hour and a half to two hours the first time around. As before, there is one main theme playing throughout which occasionally gives way to another track for a specific scene or situation.
Like the text adventures, its story takes place shortly before Phantasy Star II. You take on the role of an agent from Paseo on the planet Motavia, just like Rolf / Eusis, who decides to take some time off work to visit a friend on Dezoris. Said friend, a young, eccentric scientist by the name of Ken Miller, recently sent you a letter requesting your presence. He has invented a machine capable of doubling a person’s physical abilities. Shortly after showing it to you, he’s abducted. Asking around town, you quickly find out that the president of a powerful local corporation is responsible, as he wants the power of the machine for himself. Follows a rescue operation; you must find a way inside the factory on the outskirts of town, liberate Ken and confront his abductors. Near the factory lives Luceno, a surprisingly friendly hermit; he will help you in times of trouble, even becoming playable for a time.
And that’s about all there is to it. It’s very much a small game, maybe even a minor one, but that doesn’t mean it’s without worth. If anything, its brevity is refreshing, and fans of the Japanese-style adventure genre – the visual novel’s more interactive ancestor – will likely enjoy it. It’s also the Phantasy Star spin-off that comes the closest to the feel of the mainline series, featuring space travel, Dezorians and androids, all shown through nice, colorful illustrations backed by cheery, up-tempo music. Like Gaiden and the text adventures, it remained in Japan, but received a fan-translation courtesy of Aeon Genesis.