This is the oldest game on my list by far. It’s a DOS-based RPG. It was like no other game I had played at the time, but I spent a lot of time on it and still play it, thanks to a little program called DOSBox, which allows you to play old DOS games on modern computers.
In Phantasie, you create characters and assemble them into a group. There is a surprising amount of customization in the character creation. It’s old-school DND rules, so you “roll” your character and get random stats. Don’t like them? Roll again. And again. And again until you have stats you can live with. For example, you’re not going to want a fighter with only 4 starting hit points and you’re not going to want a wizard with 2 intelligence points. Once you have your team assembled, you leave your starting city.
Once you are out of the city, you enter the scary world. You just kind of wander around, kill monsters and bad guys, gain experience and money, go back to town to train and do it all over again until you are high enough level to handle some of the more challenging areas of the map. The map consists of multiple screens and is all blackened out until you explore it. Exploration is always one of the more fun elements of a game for me, and this was my first intro to that.
There are also dungeons to be explored. These are large concentrations of mobs and have good gear just lying around. There are copyright checks built into the game, however, and can ruin a game if you don’t have the online manual readily available. Sneaky early developers. There are often specific tasks to complete in a dungeon, but since there’s no explanation of this in-game (I’m sure there was in the manual), you are left to your own devices to figure out what to do.
I’m sure we all have these really old and nostalgic games that we still play from time to time. The simplicity of it is refreshing and the lack of awesome graphics and sound leaves you to focus only on the good game play. This is an RPG at its most basic and is a lot of fun as a result. There were a couple of follow-ups to this one and I did play the second for a bit, but I only play the original now.