I'm a big fan of the Phantasy Star series. I've played through all the main Phantasy Star games (aside from PSO and Collections) and I've enjoyed every single one of them, even Phantasy Star III. I'd never met a Phantasy Star game I didn't like… until I played Phantasy Star Adventure. This text adventure for Game Gear has got to be the most novel attempt at making a spin-off game I have ever seen, except that it suffers completely from the fact that it's only 15 minutes long and has no replay value.
While I could give you the entire story of the game in a single paragraph, I'll be kind and only give you the background. You're an agent from Paseo, the city of learning on Motavia, and you've just gotten a letter (what, no e-mail in AW 1268?) from your friend, professor Ken Miller, asking you to go to Dezolis and see his new invention, so you do. He gets kidnapped and you have to save him. I've just ruined a whopping 5 minutes of the game's story, meaning you now are 1/3 of the way through the entire game. My apologies.
I'm not kidding when I say that this is the shortest game I've ever played. It literally took me a half hour to complete, and that's with getting stuck a couple times. There is almost nothing to do in this game aside from moving around and looking at things.
When you do get the chance to take an action, you get to choose from seven menu items: move, look, talk, take, use, drop, and system. You move from screen to screen using the move command, and the most exciting part of that is when you actually get to choose which direction you want to go. Why, one time I not only had the choice of moving south, but down as well! Ah, memories.
Most of the other commands are just as straightforward: the look command gives you a description of whichever one of the preset items/locations you wish to look at (and there ain't much, lemme tell ya), talk lets you talk to people (not many), take lets you take items you find (again, not many), use allows you to use the item on something, and drop lets you drop an item you're holding.
The system command is the odd one out, as it opens up another menu giving you the option to check the "map" (a diagram of squares interconnected with lines to show you where you can move in the game), set the text speed (fast, normal, or slow), access a password (the game's not long enough to require a password, trust me), and check your HP/Meseta.
Now, you may be asking, if this is a text adventure, why do you have HP/Meseta values? It's because there's actually fighting in the game! Yes, much like in Sword of Hope, every now and then you'll meet up with guards and robots and have to fight. Don't get too excited, though, as these battles are dull. When you encounter an enemy, your menu switches to display four new commands: move lets you go back the way you came, look lets you look at your enemy or the area, fight lets you use a weapon (one of four, total, in the game), and HP lets you see your HP/Meseta status.
If you choose to attack, little dice tumble down to show how much damage you do. Then your enemy attacks and the same thing happens. If you win you get Meseta (sometimes), if you lose you go back to the last preset location. There's not a big penalty in this game for losing a battle.
Meseta can be used to buy one of the three things in the one store, or to bribe a cop to give you something. Woohoo. The sad thing is that the gameplay is pretty good for a text adventure, but the game is literally too short to make any good use of it.
Similarly, the graphics are just fine for a Game Gear title. Nothing moves, true, but the still pictures are well drawn and don't look terrible. Very 8-bit, but nothing horrible.
Music, on the other hand, was horrible. The one song that plays through almost the entire quest made me glad that the game was only a half hour long. I don't think I could have played the game any longer had I been forced to listen to that jaunty, repetitive tune any more. There was a separate tune for "regular" battles and one for the "boss" battle, but that's about it.
The sound effects were also extremely limited, maybe two in the entire game: the menu beep and the "shuff" of an attack. The menu beep was grating, to say the least.
Control was pretty rancid as well. The directional movement was oversensitive, meaning you could easily take a turn fighting with a useless Radio when you really wanted to use the Axe. Very, very sad.
The bottom line is that Sega could have made this a really enjoyable Game Gear title if they had managed to make it longer. Instead, the game seems as if it was created to be played quickly on a TI-85 during statistics class. I'm sorry to say that this is one of the worst games I've ever played, and Sega should be ashamed of them selves for associating it with the Phantasy Star name.