• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.
  • The Politics forum has been nuked. Please do not bring political discussion to the rest of the site, or you will be removed. Thanks.

Working Designs almost published Phantasy Star IV, Sega of America wanted it to fail

ST2K

Member
Jun 14, 2013
1,573
0
350
Is Phantasy Star IV honestly considered the best of the original series?

I'm very ignorant on the consensus of those games, but it seemed to me those games kind of petered off as the (non-online) series went on.
 

Laevateinn

Member
Aug 7, 2013
6,510
19
335
Is Phantasy Star IV honestly considered the best of the original series?

I'm very ignorant on the consensus of those games, but it seemed to me those games kind of petered off as the (non-online) series went on.

It's nearly universal I think. I'm sure you'll hear debate about whether 1 or 2 are better but 4 is not only the best in the series but the best JRPG of the 16-bit era.
 

Man God

Non-Canon Member
Nov 2, 2007
70,821
1
1,260
This is actual Tom Kalinske's fault.

Which Sega of America chairman is most hated I wonder. Bernie "Saturn Killer" Stolar or Peter "Selling Out Shenmue" Moore?

It's really SoJ's fault for making the Saturn in the first place.
 

Sixfortyfive

He who pursues two rabbits gets two rabbits.
Dec 19, 2006
16,848
1
1,450
Atlanta, GA, USA
Is Phantasy Star IV honestly considered the best of the original series?

I'm very ignorant on the consensus of those games, but it seemed to me those games kind of petered off as the (non-online) series went on.

1 and 2 are archaic and tedious. 3 is universally considered to be "the bad one." 4 is one of my favorite games of all time.

(I respect the original PS a lot and think that it compares favorably to its contemporaries, but in general I can't say that I like any 8-bit RPG that much these days.)

Eh, I get the complaints about the length of PS IV. It was pretty damn short.

The length and--more importantly--the pacing of PSIV is why it holds up in the first place. I can tear through it in about 10 hours these days if I want to, without a single second of it wasted on filler.

It respects a key criteria for a good game more so than at least 90% of the RPGs that I've played: it doesn't waste my fucking time.

The walk speed is brisk. Teleportation spells and vehicles are acquired fairly early. You start with a competent party instead of a single under-leveled character like the first 2 games. The cutscenes are detailed enough but also don't drag on longer than necessary. Battle transitions and attack animations are super quick. You can set-up macros for all of your attack patterns instead of clicking through a ton of menus on every turn. There's never much downtime between major story events. If you know how to use your spells, manage your TP, and acquire all the loot laying around, you never have to grind, but the encounters are balanced such that you can't sleepwalk through everything either.

It's just well executed in all of the important ways.
 

timetokill

Banned
Oct 19, 2004
32,834
0
0
Los Angeles, CA
Don't forget... 99 dollars in '95 is like paying $160 today with inflation. Those $79 RPGs around '94 like FFVI and CT would be like paying $130 now.

At least for those prices today we get a statue or something included...

Even in those days if you were paying like $130 now, you were at least getting one of the best RPGs of all time.

Nowadays you're paying $60 for stories that have to be completed with patches later down the road.
 

Laevateinn

Member
Aug 7, 2013
6,510
19
335
1 and 2 are archaic and tedious. 3 is universally considered to be "the bad one." 4 is one of my favorite games of all time.

(I respect the original PS a lot and think that it compares favorably to its contemporaries, but in general I can't say that I like any 8-bit RPG that much these days.)

1 is still incredibly playable in my opinion. 2 requires a bit of preparation and willingness to deal with frustration but has some of the best atmosphere in any 16-bit game. I think if they had given it a few more months and a larger ROM, so that the battles could have backgrounds and a smoother interface, it would be perfect. The dungeons are nuts but that's part of the charm and isn't that bad (save the teleporter dungeon) with maps.
 

LiveFromKyoto

Member
Jul 19, 2006
25,249
0
0
Kyoto, Japan
This is actual Tom Kalinske's fault.

Which Sega of America chairman is most hated I wonder. Bernie "Saturn Killer" Stolar or Peter "Selling Out Shenmue" Moore?

I mean, I hate Moore for the Shenmue thing (at least Europe came through) and for dancing on the Dreamcast's grave while calling himself a hero for killing it, but at the time the company hadn't made a profit in years and Okawa wanted out of hardware too. Taken on a career body of work I think Bernie's worse.

He not only killed the Saturn in the West - essentially assuring the DC would be DOA - he wanted Sega out of hardware before anybody else did, and even thought they should have sold the company to Microsoft. Toss in the 2D hate and you've got a winner imo.
 

JasonUresti

Member
Dec 3, 2007
2,359
0
0
Always sad to hear another example of how the Sega of Japan vs Sega of America dick measuring contest help sink the company as a hardware manufacturer.
 
Seems like it was actually a she who was bringing Stolar-like approval policies back to Sony, who Vic talks about earlier in the thread (page 4) but doesn't name. Apparently a lot of people got away with similar games in that era without having to do 2-in-1 packs or other bullshit because they had Japanese parent companies who could go over that person's head (NISA, for one example,) but WD didn't, so they got fucked. Just another example of Sony's problems in that era.

Found his comment on this:

The Growlanser problems were a different female exec, this time at Sony. Thank god she's long gone, she was really bad for them (and us).

And by the way, he is no fan of how Atlus handled Growlanser(and neither am I).

Regarding Growlanser 5:
Yeah, as a fan, I was just kinda pissed that Atlus did NOTHING to improve what was obviously a broken release. If you look at the Japanese GL2 and GL3 vs what we released, we spent a lot of time polishing the interface, status screens, etc to make it look and play better.

Atlus US could have done that if they really cared about the fans and weren't just trying to cash in on what we started with GL2 and 3 (and they took back to continue themselves in the US once we proved a market for the series, killing the market dead with virtually no effort in their releases of GL games).

He's not wrong. They did NOTHING to sell Growlanser 4 on anyone.

He's also said that they have not been cooperative with putting 2 & 3 on PSN.
 

Nuu

Banned
Nov 21, 2015
1,347
0
0
It's so sad what happened to Sega. Kalinske and his team knew exactly what they were doing. They were some of the smartest people in business around. Nintendo doesn't allow big third party publishers to publish their hit games on your platform? The solution is easy, just get a bunch of licensed games from movies and TV shows, and create games based on huge celebrities. Walmart won't carry your console? Advertise the living fuck out of your system at the CEO's hometown until he gets sick of it and is forced to accept. The team was ingenious. Of course they had fuckups, but by and by they knew the general direction of where to go. Even with hardware they were eyeing the same design as the Nintendo 64, just with a disc drive. However, SOJ didn't allow it.

Once the traditional SOA team left and the new wigs came in, the company was doomed. It's so sad because Sega had so much talent and a very clear philosophy with gaming. Personally I line up much more with Sega's philosophy and attitude toward games than Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft.

Like what? Lunar and Vay are pretty easy.

Popful Mail. Working Designs gave all the enemies double health and it made exploring the overworld very tedious and the bosses take far too long and were far too hard. The game seemed to be really good besides that.

Their best selling console in Japan...

That isn't saying much at all...
 

Jay Sosa

Member
Dec 6, 2008
13,928
1
680
will read it later, just wanted to say thanks for posting fascinating stuff about one of my absolute favorite games
 

Morrigan Stark

Arrogant Smirk
Jul 23, 2010
30,991
13
720
www.metal-archives.com
There's bits of perversion here and there in the series. It's pretty tame though. In Shining Force 1 you can find sexy outfits for Tao (bikini) and Anri (daring dress).

In Shining Force 2, you stumble across Sheela as she's bathing and for some reason she does a ridiculous dive out of the pond showing off her tiny naked sprite.

In STHA and SF3, there's a thong item. In Shining Force 3 you dig through people's drawers which occasionally results in "WOW there is some amazing underwear in here!" Also, Hedva is practically naked with a spell animation that is designed to show off her panties.

All in all, it's extremely minor compared to what came after.

I need this.
Man that's not even... anything at all. You can play the whole games without ever noticing any of these things. In fact while I did hear about those "sexy outfits" they were so well hidden I never even found them playing the game a million times. And the drawer joke is just that, a joke. So yeah, I really wouldn't even compare that to the Tony Taka stuff whatsoever.
 

ViewtifulJC

Banned
Oct 14, 2010
66,814
1
0
Beaumont, TX
www.neogaf.com
I always feel like the story between SoA and SoJ is very one-sided. We get all of SoA/Kalinske talking about how great they were and how they would've been amazing if SoJ didnt stop them. Would love to hear both sides of the story one day.
 

Voliko

Member
Sep 16, 2013
2,135
3
345
Found his comment on this:



And by the way, he is no fan of how Atlus handled Growlanser(and neither am I).

Regarding Growlanser 5:


He's not wrong. They did NOTHING to sell Growlanser 4 on anyone.

He's also said that they have not been cooperative with putting 2 & 3 on PSN.
We are lucky enough to have gotten 4 at all.
 

DangerMouse

Member
May 27, 2013
20,089
1
500
I want to believe Vic, because he definitely played an important role in increasing exposure on niche games in the west, but this just seems to be yet another case of "we would have totally been successful with this thing if it wasn't for other parties than me."

Which, yeah, is clearly true in some cases, but still comes off as trying to throw all the blame elsewhere.

I don't think that's the case for this because even in the thing he says that PSIV was successful since he says that it proved his point that SoA's expectation was wrong as it still sold out for SoA even at a crazy high price.
 

kswiston

Member
Mar 25, 2005
35,134
2
0
Canada
yeah, I bought both of those at launch. they weren't $100US. I remember closer to $79.99.

I think some of the confusion might come from some old mid-90s ads from Toys R Us Canada that are floating around the net. Our prices were routinely in that $90-100 range (before tax) at the time.

 

Vamphuntr

Member
Dec 5, 2008
13,792
0
0
QC
I agree, but let's be real: they gave it the shittiest treatment imaginable. No voice over AT ALL, little to no marketing, they just tossed it out to die.

This is not true though. There was a thread here few years ago about a massive leak of Sega prototypes and among which were several Phantasy Star IV rom with differencse in the localization. It appears they actually did many pass and refined the translation for it. A gaffer posted screenshots of some of them and it was hilarious with wrongly translated names and puns. Can't seem to find the thread it's been a while. If they had sent it to die they wouldn't have bothered and would have pulled a Breath of Fire II.

Victor Ireland brought over many classics over here but you have to take with moderation some of the stuff he says. It's always everyone doing a terrible job but him.
 
This is not true though. There was a thread here few years ago about a massive leak of Sega prototypes and among which were several Phantasy Star IV rom with differencse in the localization. It appears they actually did many pass and refined the translation for it. A gaffer posted screenshots of some of them and it was hilarious with wrongly translated names and puns. Can't seem to find the thread it's been a while. If they send it to die they wouldn't have bothered and would have pulled a Breath of Fire II.

Victor Ireland brought over many classics over here but you have to take with moderation some of the stuff he says. It's always everyone doing a terrible job but him.

I'm talking about Growlanser IV.
 

Sojiro

Member
Oct 20, 2012
903
1
0
Really interesting read, thanks for posting it! Also, mind blown that Phantasy Star IV was $100 bucks at release! Never knew that, as I played through it by renting it back then. Really unfortunate that person was as stubborn as he was, and caused so much shit for Sega :(.
 

Nairume

Banned
Jan 19, 2010
7,343
0
0
I'm talking about Growlanser IV.
That said, the evidence of them doing multiple passes through localizing PS4 shows a lot more effort than you would expect from something they supposedly only took on out of spite to intentionally tank.
 
That said, the evidence of them doing multiple passes through localizing PS4 shows a lot more effort than you would expect from something they supposedly only took on out of spite to intentionally tank.

I agree, but it's still fascinating that they were going to pass on it until he pursued it. Sega probably realized it was a first party title, it had to be done right.
 

massoluk

Banned
Dec 19, 2011
22,032
1
0
Wow, dude is like the real archvillain pulling string of an empire in an RPG that only the main party knows about
 
Oct 19, 2011
1,728
2
480
Honestly, my biggest problem with Phantasy Star 3 is I really hate the battle theme and given that the game's an RPG, you hear it all the time. Wonder if there's a mod for that.

I'm one who actually rather likes PS III.

I liked that the battle music was dynamic based on how well your fight rounds were going. Its a shame the music in that game was so hit or miss.

Final Boss theme was great.


Concerning the prices of various games:

I bought PS IV from a video rental store in my town of 5k (a couple miles from a city of 40k, and 1/2 hour away from Madison WI...but still). I'd rented it twice, and had been the only person to rent it. So they let me buy it for $79.99.

I know I paid 69.99 for Final Fantasy III, because when I bought it I also picked up AH-3 Thunderstrike for the Sega CD (pretty good game, by the way). The game was 29.99 new at the time. I know this because I paid $100 for the two games.
 

Vamphuntr

Member
Dec 5, 2008
13,792
0
0
QC
For Growlanser the problem was that they weren't coding the game themselves like WD did. You have the advantage of being able to fix and improve the game at the cost of being stuck with any mess you could create (trying to fix that dumb Goemon game probably helped kill the company). The latter seemed to happen a lot with WD and their trademark delays. Some of their enhancements like discussed in posts in this thread

With Growlanser V a big problem was that the game wasn't that good to begin with. The pacing is pretty poor with the intro stories at the beginning. The game is ugly as sin for a PS2 game and the coding is fairly shoddy during battle with all the jank going on. Atlus US is definitely at fault for that embarrassing LE though. A power point slideshow on a disc with boring and ridiculous trivia like " Oh we changed the name of the main character from Zionsilt to Haschen because I like rabbit and it means rabbit in another language", some useless buttons, an ugly keychain and some art pamphlet. It tanked pretty badly AFAIK. WD was known for their extremely nice LE back then and this wasn't one for sure.

But fans keep asking for Growlanser IV and I on the doomed PSP. I think they were pretty nice to do 4 with all the cuts they had to do. They obviously didn't make money on it and Atlus is bigger than WD, they have to keep releasing more than 1-2 game every two years to survive. I kind of like to think they did it for fans. They had a bunch of riddles back them to announce games and everyone kept saying Growlanser IV. The very last announcement was for Gungnir but the hints worked for Grownlanser IV until the very last picture. Then they announced haha we're doing both. I guess they felt they had to do it at that point.

It's probably the last big fan request Atlus did. Then they kicked everyone in the face with Persona 2 EP PSP then they started to localize these terrible borderline hentai games.
 
For Growlanser the problem was that they weren't coding the game themselves like WD did. You have the advantage of being able to fix and improve the game at the cost of being stuck with any mess you could create (trying to fix that dumb Goemon game probably helped kill the company). The latter seemed to happen a lot with WD and their trademark delays. Some of their enhancements like discussed in posts in this thread

With Growlanser V a big problem was that the game wasn't that good to begin with. The pacing is pretty poor with the intro stories at the beginning. The game is ugly as sin for a PS2 game and the coding is fairly shoddy during battle with all the jank going on. Atlus US is definitely at fault for that embarrassing LE though. A power point slideshow on a disc with boring and ridiculous trivia like " Oh we changed the name of the main character from Zionsilt to Haschen because I like rabbit and it means rabbit in another language", some useless buttons, an ugly keychain and some art pamphlet. It tanked pretty badly AFAIK. WD was known for their extremely nice LE back then and this wasn't one for sure.

But fans keep asking for Growlanser IV and I on the doomed PSP. I think they were pretty nice to do 4 with all the cuts they had to do. They obviously didn't make money on it and Atlus is bigger than WD, they have to keep releasing more than 1-2 game every two years to survive. I kind of like to think they did it for fans. They had a bunch of riddles back them to announce games and everyone kept saying Growlanser IV. The very last announcement was for Gungnir but the hints worked for Grownlanser IV until the very last picture. Then they announced haha we're doing both. I guess they felt they had to do it at that point.

It's probably the last big fan request Atlus did. Then they kicked everyone in the face with Persona 2 EP PSP then they started to localize these terrible borderline hentai games.

To be fair, Growlanser V's art book is very nice, a far cry from the cheap crap we get nowadays.

It also got two things Growlanser IV didn't: a good voice over, and a good font.

 

Ooccoo

Member
May 12, 2011
3,891
10
720
It seems like SOA still has a grudge against Phantasy Star because they won't release PSO2 here despite saying so years ago. What a shit company.
 

jay

Member
Oct 25, 2006
9,198
0
1,000
A lot of this reads like those forum posts where people say Nintendo would be winning again if only they released another F-Zero or whatever.

I don't think it's crazy fanboy nonsense to suggest terrible management can have a detrimental affect on a company. People in the thread are mostly lamenting how Sega destroyed itself, not suggesting they would have put Nintendo and Sony out of business if only Grandia had come out on it's native platform.

Or are you specifically talking about what Ireland said and not the posts in the thread?
 

GillianSeed79

Member
Jan 8, 2009
8,633
0
0
I didn't eat lunch at school for like 6 to 8 weeks back in the day because I pocketed my lunch money to buy PSIV. It was worth every penny of the $100 price tag. Lunar Sega CD from WD is still probably my favorite RPG from that era though
 

Qwark

Member
Apr 22, 2014
1,890
0
0
Can someone give a summary of the Goemon situation? I have never heard about that drama.
 

CrichtonKicks

Member
Nov 6, 2004
4,354
0
1,130
Victor Ireland brought over many classics over here but you have to take with moderation some of the stuff he says. It's always everyone doing a terrible job but him.

Yeah, I'm sorry but I flat out don't believe that the game was priced at $100 simply out of spite and an intentional to make the game fail.
 

orthodoxy1095

Banned
Dec 15, 2013
25,270
0
0
twitter.com
Their best selling console in Japan...
And started their worldwide downfall...
I always feel like the story between SoA and SoJ is very one-sided. We get all of SoA/Kalinske talking about how great they were and how they would've been amazing if SoJ didnt stop them. Would love to hear both sides of the story one day.
I guess it's one-sided that we haven't really heard an SoJ version, but I think the reason that many people accept the narrative of Kalinske and Co. is that it fits the narrative we've heard from other Japanese brands. i.e., situations where the Japanese branch tries to domineer the non-Japanese branches without properly understanding what they're doing. Even if you take ignored any Japanese business aspect to the story, the idea of an original branch getting jealous over the success and meddling of a child branch is also a pretty typical business story. Which is to say, people accept the narrative because it seems to fit what we saw happen to Sega, what we've seen happen to other brands and none of it sounds particularly crazy. And it's not as though Kalinske and Co. were without any regard for SoJ, Nakayama was very important to their ability to succeed, at least in the beginning, and we know that SoA made their own mistakes too.

But maybe the narrative wrong and there's more to it. I dunno. Doubt there's much that can ever paint SoJ in a great light though.
 

Nairume

Banned
Jan 19, 2010
7,343
0
0
The other weird thing here is Ireland suddenly talking about trying to do PS4 is how it was a cart based game released long after WD started passing up on working on carts.

...unless his plan to make the game more successful was to port it to the SegaCD, which I suppose wouldn't be surprising after the weird insistence on porting Lunar 3 to the Dreamcast regardless of what platform gamearts put the game on.
 
Oct 19, 2011
1,728
2
480
The other weird thing here is Ireland suddenly talking about trying to do PS4 is how it was a cart based game released long after WD started passing up on working on carts.

...unless his plan to make the game more successful was to port it to the SegaCD, which I suppose wouldn't be surprising after the weird insistence on porting Lunar 3 to the Dreamcast regardless of what platform gamearts put the game on.

I seem to recall hearing (I don't recall where) that PS IV started life as a Sega CD project.
 

Syril

Member
Mar 28, 2008
7,438
0
0
I seem to recall hearing (I don't recall where) that PS IV started life as a Sega CD project.

There were reports of it starting on the Sega CD and being deceptively titled Phantasy Star IV: The Return of Alis, but the only thing left over from it seems to be an early screenshot showing first-person dungeons like in the original game.