In 2006 a small group of ROM hackers released a much-improved English translation for Phantasy Star, Sega’s groundbreaking Sega Master System RPG. Now, nearly 14 years later, the same group updated their patch to version 2.0, complete with a revised script and huge quality-of-life upgrades.
Yeah, Phantasy Star. One of the very first console RPGs ever, and a game that stood head and shoulders above the primitive competition back when the Japanese version debuted in 1987. This is the game that made that one SMS kid everyone knew strangely proud of their doomed choice of consoles.
You may be thinking, “Phantasy Star came out in English 32 years ago! Who needs a translation patch?”
After a moment of feeling very old, I reply: Phantasy Star did hit the States in 1988, but the translation was rudimentary to the point of sometimes being absurd. What a strange choice, for example, to change the healing items of this sci-fi RPG into “Burger” and “Cola.” It’s wonderful that Sega translated Phantasy Star at all, but the English version suffered from a localization typical of that virtually prehistoric era.
Also, have you played it lately? It can be a grind, no denying.
Enter the five-person ROM-hacking team of Z8O Gaiden, Maxim, Paul Jensen, satsu, and Frank “TheRedEye” Cifaldi. Their 2006 version 1.0 patch, when applied to a Japanese-region ROM, not only greatly improved on Sega’s original English translation (farewell, Burgers), but let players switch between the U.S. game’s tinkly PSG soundtrack and the vastly more listenable, previously Japanese-only FM-audio rendition.
Now, Phantasy Star Retranslation version 2.0 (from the same folks, along with newcomer Damien Guard) brings a yet more polished English script along with a bevy of much-appreciated quality-of-life improvements. Below the new sound test menu you’ll find options to increase
Alis’ Alisa’s walking speed, XP and money multipliers, an option to reduce battle frequency, and cosmetic choices for hair color and font (not sure I love the new one...).
Just like that—well okay, it did take ~14 years—the SMS version of Phantasy Star got far, far better. It’s in the running for the absolute best way to revisit Sega’s seminal role-player, though the fancied-up Switch version is pretty darn good too.
You can grab the new patch from its homepage over on SMS Power. Just watch out for those Wing Eyes, Androcops, and Dr. Mad, who is probably still a mad jerk.