While SEGA and Microsoft finally made it possible for North American players to play Phantasy Star Online 2, there are other games in the series that many players haven't played. Either due to them not knowing about them or that they're considered old-school and being lost to the ages. Either way, the original Phantasy Star games were not only single-player affairs, but they rivaled anything from Square Enix and should be played by anyone who's a fan of RPGs.
So I did what any loyal fan of the series would do, I've compiled a list of the original four games, from best to worst.
These are my recommendations if you've never played the original, single-player Phantasy Star games and if you don't care about the continuity. Keep in mind that while this list includes sequels, each game takes place thousands of years later. As such while some events and heroes from previous games are mentioned, they serve as a reference point more than anything. No significance what so over otherwise.
Though, if you do care about playing them in the right order, it would go Phantasy Star 1, 2, 4. The 3rd game doesn't even matter.
If this list gets you interested in the series and you want to play them, then the easiest way is via SEGA's SEGA AGES Phantasy Star for Nintendo Switch and Sega Genesis Classics, which is available for the PS4, Xbox One. PC (Steam) and Switch.
Alright, on to our ranking of the Phantasy Star series, from Worst to Best!
Phantasy Star III
I'm sure by now, many of you are asking me why did I list Phantasy Star III as the very last game to play in the series. Mind you, I haven't played this game in decades, but when I did play it, it came across as the absolute worst game in the series. It's barely connected to the prior games, and even then if you don't talk to the right people you wouldn't even know it. I don't even consider it a Phantasy Star game, it just feels like it was originally going to be another game and SEGA decided to slap Phantasy Star on it. The graphics and animation felt like a step backward from the second game and what the hell happened to the sci-fi setting? I also wasn't a fan of the marriage system, but carrying on in another generation was a nice touch.
Is it an enjoyable RPG? That's debatable, but I'll leave that up to you. As a Phantasy Star game, it simply doesn't work and I'll die on that hill.
Ah, Phantasy Star II, a game that will always be near and dear to me. Great graphics, an enjoyable story, lots of locations to visit, the music is stellar, and damn if I didn't love the combat system. It's also soul-crushing hard, and will never ever extend its hand to help you. The dungeons will confuse the hell out of you, the enemies, even at lower levels will chew you up and spit you out. Then there's the constant grind as there are so many characters you get to play as. This is the first and only game in the series that I had to make my own maps for because I was always got lost. But don't let this put you off, this is a great game and is a must-play.
Oh, it also had the worse box art in history. I mean, what the hell is up with Nei and those horns sticking out of her head?
If I'm being completely honest here, the only reason this game is second in my list is due to the first game establishing everything in the universe. If that doesn't mean anything to you or if you don't care, then this gem would be the first game to play, and dare I say it, the only game to play. Ironically, this game ends the original Phantasy Star story and even to this day, it stands the test of time. The combat system is great, the graphics were ahead of its time then and still look good by today's standards. It also fleshes out the characters more than any game in the series and I feel it is very accessible, even for the casual player. It's the total package, which is why so many consider it to be the best in the series.
While the first game in the series isn't exactly the best game, and even then that's subjective. I firmly believe that this needs to be the first game played by everyone. The reason for this is that this game sets up the events and the history that will be present throughout most of the games (See: Phantasy Star 3), including the spin-offs and MMO games. Sure, it has its weak points, some of which may turn of today's gamers. Yet this was a groundbreaking title when it originally released on the SEGA Master System so many decades ago.
Seriously, if you're starting out, play this game first and stick with it.