Spell Names and Descriptions

I’ve run through Phantasy Star IV for the past day and a half or so. I’ve never had the pleasure of encountering the actual cartridge, but I have dabbled in the game via ROM. Never got farther than the first hour or so, though.

Anyway, it’s a great game, for all the reasons I mentioned in my last post — it’s quick and dirty. The visuals are interesting enough while being informative non-disruptive. I can speed through text bubbles and menus with impunity, and be anywhere in the world in under a minute.

But it does illustrate a problem that I’ve always had with some older, more established franchises and their spell names. Final Fantasy has updated their spell names over the years to make the more ‘obvious’ (Blizzard/Blizzara/Blizzaga is pretty self-explanatory), but other games like Dragon Quest and Phantasy Star maintain a few peculiar names like Zoom from DQ or, uh … stuff like Foi and everything else from Phantasy Star.

Normally, this isn’t a problem, except that even Phantasy Star IV doesn’t offer up any descriptions on the spells within the context of the game. I mean, I’ve gotten pretty far just by attacking and rationing my heals, and through some trial and error with some spells (particularly the group-buff ones). Still, the lack of information (and equally useless spell names) makes it frustrating at times. I’m playing Phantasy Star IV on the Genesis Collection for the Xbox 360, and I don’t have any game manuals as reference … So if I want to find out what a spell does, I have to either cast it and try to deduce its effect, or come online and do a search, which kind of ruins the ‘retro’ mood for me.

Spell descriptions would just be perfect. I know with older games it wasn’t always a possibility, especially with storage constraints and the bloated character usage of the English alphabet … I mean, I still remember watching Working Designs struggle with compression of their text blocks on the limited edition making-of CDs.


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