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Video Game / Phantasy Star III

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Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom seems 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 development style of its day; today, with modern storage, larger development teams & management and a good long dev cycle, a multi-generational epic is possible (in fact, Agarest Senki is precisely that), but in 1990, with a small team who had a year to work on the game 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:

  • Abdicate the Throne: Rhys has to renounce his position as Prince of Landen if he wants to marry Maia, because the distances involved between Landen and Cille are too great to allow for a personal union, causing Lena's daughter Sari to eventually inherit both Landen and Satera. If Nial marries Alair, it's a two-fer: Nial moves to Dahlia and can't inherit Landen and Satera, and Lune abdicates in favor of Nial (who is now his brother-in-law).
  • 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.
  • After the End: The game takes place on one of the spaceships that escaped the destruction of Palm in Phantasy Star II. Unfortunately, the escape was mired by a cataclysmic war between the leaders of the ship that resulted in a Feudal Future.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Averted, as usual for Phantasy Star. Siren is not evil, and he can't even be called rogue; he's just programmed to fight a war that ended a thousand years ago.
  • Ambiguously Absent Parent: We don't know who Sari's father is. Sari's mother Lena died from heartbreak shortly after having her, but we have no indication that her father was involved in her life, and the game gives no indication of why Sari was in line to inherit Landen as well as Satera.
  • Ancestral Weapon: Orakio's black sword.
  • Anti-Villain: Lune and Siren are not evil, but they missed the memo about a thousand-year-old war being over.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Rulakir and the people of Lashute are happy to tell you how evil they are.
  • Changing of the Guard: Each generation starts with a new protagonist, son of the previous generation's hero.
  • Chest Monster: The final boss, Dark Force, is hiding in a chest.
  • 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).
  • Cult of Personality: Orakio and Laya are revered by their respective factions as near deities.
  • 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. She challenges Ayn to battle in Landen before joining his party.
    • All of Cille (in Rhys' time) and Dahlia (in Nial's era) are beaten into friendship.
  • Defector from Decadence: Ryan, a Layan rebel leader who opposes Lune.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • You can escape your prison cell at the beginning with an escapipe. You appear before the king, who tells you that would have been a good idea, except you've derailed the plot and need to reset the game now.
    • Unequipping Lyle affects his stats in his Duel Boss portion, making the fight much easier for you.
  • Dual Wielding: It's possible for characters to dual wield knives, needlers, slicers, claws, even staves.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: Depending on who your third-generation protagonist ends up being, gameplay can have a difference of several hours. To wit, Aron has the shortest campaign, since he starts on Dahlia and with Laya's Pendant and Kara in the party. Adan and Crys both start from Landen, but Crys has a bit more world-trekking to do to fetch Laya and the Pendant. Sean's route makes the game its absolute longest and starts him off in the middle of a desert, at level 1, with only two companions.
  • Early Game Hell: The earliest part of the game involves Rhys travelling alone with minimal equipment. At level 1, even the most basic Mook can make short work of him. It's only when Mieu and Wren join the party that the game's difficulty curve settles down. Also, the 2nd and 3rd generations always start the main character off with Mieu and Wren accompanying him (still equipped with whatever they had at the end of the previous generation), so it's never quite as bad as it was for Rhys.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: If Sean is your final protagonist, his homeworld of Azura is destroyed at the beginning of his story, killing Ayn and Thea with it.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Virtually a given in a Phantasy Star game.
  • 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 your 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 inherit 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.
  • Feudal Future: In spades, though most people aren't aware of it.
  • Flechette Storm: Considering their name, their official artwork and how they operate, Needles are implied to be this, being thrown at every enemy within a column, a feature the game doesn't really advertise. Royal Needles, the strongest kind, are available as early as Hazatak in the first generation, but they are prohibitively expensive for that time.
  • 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.
  • Forced Level-Grinding: Continuing the series' tradition from the first two games, expect to spend a LOT of time wandering around fighting random encounters.
  • Foreshadowing: Dark Force is mentioned by name early in Generation 1 when Rhys takes a ferry that travels by the shrine where Orakio's sword is kept.
  • 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.
  • Gambit Roulette: 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 Cille 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?
  • 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.
  • Global Currency: That'll be 200 meseta!
  • Going Down with the Ship: Ayn's fate should he choose Thea.
  • 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.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: The entire plot is Dark Force manipulating three generations of one royal family into performing actions that will release it.
  • 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.
  • Info Dump: New Mota in Frigidia is an Info Dump town, as the name might suggest; it's home to several sages who explain how the Alisa III took off from Palma before its destruction.
  • Interface Spoiler: Using the Monitor gives you a view of all the worlds currently available for you to explore; as Rhys, you only have Landen, Aquatica and Aridia visible, leaving a great deal of the screen empty for more worlds to be inserted later. Even when you get to Ayn or Nial's quest, a good chunk of the screen remains black, giving a good indicator that you have one more descendant of Rhys to control.
  • Item Caddy: Mieu and Wren's position in every generational party means you can use them to carry weapons, armor and items forward to the next protagonist.
  • The Load: Lena in the first generation. Her starting attributes are so low that there's a very real possibility that it's a bug. She levels pretty fast, if you can keep her alive long enough (giving her two Emels will give her good protection and force her to auto-parry every round, making her nearly impossible to kill.) This is especially hilarious considering how powerful her daughter is.
  • 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.
  • Mascot Mook: This game debuted the bird enemy "Chirper", which would later reappear in Phantasy Star IV and every Phantasy Star title after it under its more iconic name, the Rappy.
  • 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.
  • Multiple Endings: Has four third-generation protagonists. This does not only influence the playable characters, but they also go through different plotlines and the endings are very different, though each does end with the defeat of the Dark Force:
    • In Aron's ending the generation ship passes through a black hole and is transported through time and space to Earth.
    • In Sean's ending the ship encounters its sister ship Neo Palm and receives a friendly hail.
    • In Crys's ending the ship narrowly avoids being fried by flying too close to a sun, and heads towards a planet which is implied they will colonize.
    • Adan's ending is identical to Crys's, except the ship avoids a black hole instead of a sun before heading towards the planet.
  • 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.
    • The third-gen character's removal of Orakio's Sword frees Dark Force.
  • Not So Different: Both Orakio and Laya made "kill no living thing" a law in their societies; none of their subjects realize this, the fanaticism is so ingrained.
  • Oddball in the Series: The setting being outside the Algol system and the Generational Saga nature of the plot as well as differences in graphical style make this almost seem like a Gaiden Game.
  • Ominous Floating Castle: Lashute, of course. In a subversion, Skyhaven is very friendly.
  • 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 (the daughter of the second Laya).
  • Palette Swap: Several of the characters' overworld sprites are palette swaps of each other, and not just Rhys and his descendants. Princess!Kara is a palette swap of Maia, Warrior!Kara is a palette swap of Alair, and Laya and Gwyn are a palette swap of Thea.
  • Planet of Hats: Or Starship Biome, anyway. Aridia and its single town, Hazatak, is entirely populated by cyborgs except for the shopkeepers, and one assumes that even they would be cyborgs if the shopping interface allowed it.
  • Prelap: As in Phantasy Star II Dark Force is contained inside a chest. The sound effect of the chest opening echoes for several moments, and the screen fades into the final battle. The echoing of the chest opening sound becomes the backbeat of the final boss theme.
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: The weapons are called Slicers in this version. Lune, both Karas, and Thea all use this in combat.
  • Progressive Instrumentation: Each time a party member is added, a new instrument is added to the overworld theme. What's more, whenever someone dies the corresponding instrument is removed. This can result in some really strange sounding versions of the theme (for instance if the fifth slot party member is the only one left alive, there's just a drumbeat.)
  • Robot Girl: The leotard-clad redhead Mieu and her older counterpart Miun.
  • Royal Blood: Only one party member can be considered a commoner. Everyone else is descended from Orakio, a princess, or an android.
  • Shoulders of Doom: Orakian royalty have a tendency to go this route, although a higher degree of Layan blood causes them to be less fashionable
  • Single-Biome Planet: Aridia and Frigidia.
  • 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.
  • Teaser Equipment: The city of Cille at the end of Rhys' campaign sells endgame-caliber equipment. The lack of worthwhile Money Spiders in any of the three worlds you visit means that players would have to grind obsessively to afford them, but if you put the work in, Mieu and Wren could be outfitted with most of their best gear before even learning Rhys will have a grandchild, and their ability to take items across generations means your protagonist could always start with an amazing sword as well.
  • 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.
  • Time Travel: Aron's ending involves traveling through a black hole, crossing time and space.
  • Transforming Mecha: Wren has three alternate forms that allow the character to travel more quickly across the worlds.
  • Trauma Inn: One in every town. They all charge 5 meseta per person in your party, and restore all health and technique points unless a character is poisoned or "has lost the will to fight".
  • Unto Us a Son and Daughter Are Born: Adan and Gwyn are opposite-sex twins. Adan is one of the third-generation protagonists, and his sister Gwyn joins him in his quest.
  • Unwinnable by Design: Do not, under any circumstances, use an Escapipe to escape the castle dungeon at the beginning of the game. The game will outright tell you that you need to reset now. Mercifully, this is right at the beginning of the game. It also counts as Unwinnable by Insanity, since the only way to get an Escapipe at this point is by selling all of your starting equipment.
  • 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 Lune's family.


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