Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doomseems to be a radical departure from the first two Phantasy Star games at first; it doesn't even take place in the Algol system (although for good reason). It begins with the story of Rhys, a young prince of the Orakians, who is preparing to marry Maia, a girl from the rival Layans. When Maia is kidnapped, it sets events in motion that span generations. PSIII starts off as a classic Medieval European Fantasy, but the appearances of androids and obviously high-tech "caves" quickly clue them in to the fact that things are not as they seem. The game features a unique twist: at the end of Rhys' adventure, he is given a choice of two girls to marry. Depending on his choice, the game then continues through the eyes of the resulting child. This child's own story will then play out, again with a choice of whom to marry. This final child will play out the final act of the story.Generally, this game is considered the weakest of the original tetralogy, largely because its ambitious design somewhat outstripped the capabilities of the hardware and developers of its day; today, with modern storage and development teams, a multi-generational epic might be possible, but in 1990, with a small team and on a cart with a data weight of less than a megabyte, doing the concept justice proved... difficult. The location shift from the previous two games (which, among other things, left the ending of PSII unaddressed) also caused a large deal of discontent. While still remembered as being one of the most ambitious titles of the 16-bit era (and one of the only to attempt a generational shift), ultimately its sibling titles are remembered more fondly.
Provides Examples Of:
Ability Required to Proceed: Caverns connecting the worlds require special gemstones to travel through; some such caverns never get said gems, necessitating the use of Laya's Pendant to teleport through her temples. Even then, there's occasionally guards standing inside to prevent you from reaching the dais.
Action Girl: Sari of the second generation and Warrior!Kara of the third fit this trope.
Arranged Marriage: Rhys was in one of these before the start of the game. He broke it off when he fell in love with the mysterious Maia.
Badass Cape: All your primary heroes and Lyle. Aron gets an especially badass one, being the only protagonist with a unique set of sprites showing off his Dahlian attire.
Badass Mustache: Added to the portraits of Rhys, Lyle, Ayn and Nial to show they have aged up by the time of their sons' campaigns.
Batman Gambit: Apparently everything you did in the first generation was part of a set up by the people of Lashute. They wanted to restart the war, but this was impossible because of the ceasefire imposed by Orakio and Laya. They could have their second-in-commands restart the war, but both had been banished to the Alisa III's satellites, which were beyond the reach of any spaceships they had. Therefore they needed someone to bring them back into position using the satellite control system; so they kidnapped the Princess of Crille and placed her on a beach in Landen; which was a neighbor to Satera, whose royal family held the Moonstone, one of the keys necessary to make the satellite control system operate. Maia, the princess of Cille, was the cousin of Lyle, the prince of Shushoran whose royal family happened to have the Moon Tear, the other key needed to work the satellite control system. Then Lyle kidnapped Maia back and returned her to Cille, which just happened to be separated from Shushoran by a narrow strait which would turn into a land bridge if influenced by the two moons, if they were back in their original positions. Note that Lyle could have, at any time, turned into a dragon and flew the party to Cille, but instead they went with pretty much the most complicated solution of all, which is what the people of Lashute wanted. Wouldn't it have been easier for them to just kidnap Lena and Lyle (or blackmail them) and have them bring the satellites back for them?
Battle Couple: This is an option throughout the game; a minimum of one of your choices for a bride will have participated in your quest, making them a possible Battle Couple. Both of Ayn's potential brides fight alongside him, making this mandatory for him.
Changing of the Guard: Each generation starts with a new protagonist, son of the previous generation's hero.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard / My Rules Are Not Your Rules: The Tsu and Zan spells have different properties than normal in this game — Zan targets all enemies within a row (front or back), and Tsu targets enemies within a column (left or right). However, when used on the player's party, they both target everybody, no exceptions. Only Gra and Foi function like they're supposed to for both sides (targeting all and only one subject, respectively).
Damsel in Distress: Maia starts the whole game thanks to what appears to be this trope. It's complicated.
Also Alair in Nial's quest, and Thea in Ayn's. Arguably Lena in Rhys', depending on how serious Lyle was about holding her.
Defeat Means Friendship: Lyle in Rhys' quest. He temporarily leaves your party to challenge you to a Duel Boss battle at Shusoran castle before you can go on to defeat the King of Cille to complete your mission. Another example is Sari in Ayn's campaign.
All of Cille (in Rhys' time) and Dahlia (in Nial's era) are beaten into friendship.
Equivalent Exchange: Techniques are customizable. Grouped into four sets (Healing, Melee, Time, and Order), one technique's effectiveness can be boosted at the expense of another. It's actually a fairly robust system that allows for some helpful character specialization.
Evolving Music: The overworld theme grows more complex and triumphant as you recruit characters into your party. You'll never hear its solo and two-person variations past the first generation, as Mieu and Wren always accompany the hero permanently.
The background music in battles will also change depending on your status. If you're party is in normal condition against enemies appropriate to your current level, you get the normal battle theme. If you're up against enemies above your current level, if your party is in bad shape, or if you're ambushed, the music is dark and sinister. If you're up against weaker enemies or if you're close to winning, the music is upbeat and cheerful.
Facial Markings: Laya has a bright red dot in the middle of her forehead. Adan and Gwyn inherent smaller ones.
Fake-Out Opening: Appears completely unconnected to the other games in the tetralogy at first.
Fantastic Racism: A plot point. Orakians and Layans have been at war for over a thousand years, the former utilizing cyborgs and raw strength to fight, the latter controlling monsters and able to use techniques.
For Want of a Nail: Lune's daughter Kara. If Nial is your second-generation protagonist, his and Lune's final battle will help Lune come to terms with the war finally being over, and a Kara will be born that grows up to be a rather sweet princess who specializes in healing. If you went with Ayn's route, this fight obviously never occurred, and Lune will have had to come to terms with the war on his own; in the meantime, a Kara will have been born that has grown up as more of an embittered warrior, specializing in attack spells and sporting a much more armored appearance.
Four-Star Badass: Siren and Lune are both explicitly named as the generals under Orakio and Laya, respectively, and will pound you into fine paste if you make a single mistake during their boss fights.
Functional Magic: The "Inherent Gift" type. Only those of Layan descent and cyborgs can use techniques; pureblood Orakians are limited to melee weapons. Since Megid figures into the plot, you will end up marrying at least one Layan by the third generation.
Generation Ships: The Alisa III is just one such model that escaped the destruction of Palma. Ayn or Nial discover this for themselves when they take off to Azura or Dahlia, respectively. Another ship, the Neo Palm, still exists as well; they're the only two left of the fleet that first left Palma.
Generational Saga: Albeit a fairly shallow one, given how limited the available technology was.
Good Old Robot: Mieu and Wren, who Rhys recruits and who continue to serve his son and grandson as party members.
Great Offscreen War: The Devastation War between Laya and Orakio creates the setting for the whole game.
Human Popsicle: This happens to Laya. The wake-up time varies between generations. She can even be woken up twice if Aron is your third-generation protagonist.
Love Hurts: Rather obvious given the Love Triangle bride choices, but in at least two circumstances, the bride not chosen is single the rest of her life.
Alair and Sari both remain single. Thea and Maia are never seen again. Lena marries someone else (producing Sari), and in all likelihood dies in Lune's attacks. Laya returns to stasis if you marry Alair, but later joins the third-generation party (or if you exploit an oversight by giving Laya's Bow to one of the cyborgs before completing the second generation, you don't need to get her at all... meaning she remains in stasis forever). So yes, the one rejected tends to not get much of a Happy Ending.
Magic Knight: Ayn and every third-generation protagonist, though how strong their magic will be depends on their ancestry.
Mecha-Mooks: Orakian warfare have depended on these for over a thousand years.
Mighty Glacier: Orakians are slower than Layans and don't level up as fast, plus they lack access to techniques. However, they make up for it by being very sturdy and strong.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Rhys' moving of Dahlia and Azura into their old positions frees the greatest generals of the Devastation War to resume their fight. Also the third-gen character's removal of Orakio's Sword.
One Steve Limit: An aversion. There are two Layas in the game. One is only referenced in past tense and was the being who eventually headed Layan society; the other is her younger sister who is eventually roused from cryostasis. The Japanese version adds a third, who became Gwyn in the translation.
Stable Time Loop: One ending shows how Dark Force could have gone back in time to corrupt Earth, which may have lead to the Earthmen becoming the secret antagonists of Phantasy Star II, and causing the events that resulted in Dark Force hitching a ride to Earth.
Of course, this all falls pretty firmly into fanon territory.
Strong Family Resemblance: Every generation's hero takes after his mother, inheriting her hair color, eyes, and some of her facial features. In Gwyn's case, she inherits her mother's coloring and looks, and a bit of her grandmother's facial structure. Crys is the lone exception to this, as his hair color doesn't match Sari's perfectly.
Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Gwyn fills the bow user role that Laya occupies in the other third-generation storylines, given that Adan and Gwyn's parents are Nial and Laya; she even shares the same sprite with just a slight difference in hair color.
In the Japanese version, she was even named Laya.
Theme Naming: Most of the worlds: Landen, Aquatica, Aridia, and Frigidia refer to their climates, Elysium and Draconia are their map appearance, and Terminus is where the game ends.
Voluntary Shapeshifting: Lyle is known as the Dragon Knight. He kidnapped Maia at the beginning of the game, and later on he uses his dragon form to transport Ayn and his party to Techna before passing away.
Warrior Prince: All of the male chief protagonists for all of the generations, plus Lyle.
Witch Species: The descendants of Laya's clan are the only humans able to use techniques.
You Gotta Have Blue Hair: You better believe it. The most egregious would be the famous use of a color best described as "electric laser limeade" as the hair color of five different characters.