Why I think Idola Phantasy Star Saga looks terrible

The other day SEGA announced their new mobile game Idola Phantasy Star Saga, in which I did a write up on the news where I said the game looked terrible. It seemed some people didn’t like the idea of me having a ‘hot take’ on a newly released trailer. Some people thought I was judging the game too early, but the issue is I’m not. When I said that Idola Phantasy Star Saga looked terrible, I meant that what we have seen so far has looked terrible. Of course, you don’t have to agree with my opinion and I’m always open to listening to people that disagree, but this is the long version of why I think Idola Phantasy Star Saga looks terrible.

But let’s get into it:

Type the words “Generic Anime Mobile Game” in Google image search and you’ll the above image. The game is known as Fate/Grand Order and the game literally looks exactly like the newly announced Idola Phantasy Star Saga. Fate/Grand Order is so alike that I had to do a double glance at the screenshots to make sure which was which. If I showed you the picture below and I told you it was a new update for Fate/Grand Order, most people would probably never question it:

I can see people that enjoy these types of mobile games telling me that it isn’t a big deal that its a clone game, which I understand. For regular mobile users, cheap clone games are a dime a dozen. I just think its weird to hype this as a celebration of the Phantasy Star series and just show some of the most generic mobile anime characters. Its sad because its just human characters and this whole change in direction has been an issue with me since Phantasy Star Online 2, which in my opinion has been a huge step back in terms of art quality for the franchise. But even Phantasy Star Online 2 featured more characters than just humans and the humans wore armor suits (even if they did dominate the franchise):

I really do feel that these changes and pushing more ‘cute females’ up front because its popular is a bad move for the franchise. I don’t mind having female characters in the game, but having these human female characters dominate the game does the opposite of what the franchise is suppose to do. I always thought it was great that they had robots, elves and other species never seen in other JRPGs (at the time). While SEGA is saying this game is to celebrate 30 years of the franchise, to me it feels like a cheap cash grab that exploits what the latest trends in Japan instead of being a genuine game to celebrate the long running franchise. The new game looks completely different to past games, they even dialed back on the heavy armor that was used in Phantasy Star Online 2 and went with basically regular anime type clothing (including a shirtless guy). Why bother using the IP on this? If someone showed you the character art from this game, I doubt it would scream ‘Phantasy Star‘ to you. That to me fails at being a game to celebrate the franchises history. Trust me I don’t hate video game companies trying something new…

For example the Phantasy Star Online reboot by Sonic Team had a good variety of art and its style stood on its own. While I do prefer the art of the original titles, this was a solid attempt at something new and wasn’t just copying the latest Japanese trends. Each class and race has its own feel and it really does make it seem like the world is more diverse for it. While some people will say that the Idola could feature more races and art styles when its released,its not something I’m arguing against. Anything can happen, what I’m talking about is what we’ve been shown.

I was actually looking forward to see what SEGA had in store for a mobile game, I liked the teaser sketch that was used to promote the announcement, but SEGA killed my excitement right away when it revealed it was just a generic waifu characte under a mask:

What was the point of the trailer to show past games in the series when they aren’t going to take basic staples of those games to design Idola? I mean they didn’t even get the basic battling in-game right, opting for a Final Fantasy side view instead of ‘behind the back’ view that became iconic with the franchise:

To me Idola Phantasy Star Saga seems like a mobile game that was in development to copy the highly popular Fate/Grand Order and then SEGA decided to use the Phantasy Star branding in hopes of gaining early traction. Its such a shame because the latest mobile game by SEGA, Shin Megami Tensei: Liberation Dx2  actually stayed true to the style of Shin Megami Tensei games and is better for it. With a franchise as iconic as Phantasy Star, it wouldn’t be too hard to show off some staples from the series but it seems this game isn’t really interested in all that. Doesn’t seem like people online are pleased with Idola either, if the YouTube trailer feedback is anything to go by.

[Now that you read a ton of me whining, let me know what you think of Idola Phantasy Star Saga in the comments below!]


13 responses to “Why I think Idola Phantasy Star Saga looks terrible

  1. Yamato says:

    Great write up, I too hated this lack of species variety, I know SEGA probably has numbers to say few people care about casts, just a quick look at every new outfits you see very few or none that look like something a cast would wear, but for me it’s a shame since it’s my favorite race.

  2. Blevin says:

    I agree that the art style is not in the tradition of Phantasy Star, and that it appears to be a step back in terms of originality. But I would also argue that, on its own terms, it looks fine — sort of like Odin Sphere. In terms of previous games, it seems to be closest to Phantasy Star Zero…which was not my favorite Phantasy Star in terms of art direction.

    What’s so puzzling is that they are clearly familiar with the source material, but they somehow thought that this was the way to go. Given the talent behind the game (Skies of Arcadia, Valkyria Chronicles, and PSO veterans), I think it should be given a chance

  3. Randr01d says:

    I would argue that the female lead in the reveal is completely in the tradition of a game which introduced female leads of sword based fantasy adventures.

    The fact that it looks like another game is relevant. Take any screen cap of any of the exploration parts of any phantasy star game 1-3 and it looks just as generic as any other jrpg.

    The one point I give you is the battle sequence. They should have gone with the rear third person view.

    Never cared about the species thing. Ultimately, all that matters is the story attached to the game. If it’s a Phantasy Star story, it’s a Phantasy Star game. The name IDOLA actually ties into the PSO while the style appears to be more fantasy than sci-fi like the originals, so it may be tying the two together which would be amazing.

    Again, we knew it was a mobile game. From that, the fact that we actually got a single player, story/battle driven game with what appears to be fixed characters WAY exceeds my expectations for the medium.

  4. Max says:

    Wow! Forcing diversity with an all female cast into a game makes it less diverse! WHO DA THUNK IT!?

    • TDixpix says:

      But are they really forcing diversity here, or is the design meant more for the teenage boner crowd than for young Japanese females who are looking for a role model.

      Also, keep in mind that the challenging gender norms are very very different in Japan than they are in the west, and have by no means seen the same level of transference in popular culture there as they have here.

      My bet is that it’s for the teen boner crowd.

  5. TDixpix says:

    George, your write up is on point. This is a fast cash grab that was built to emulate a trending game in Japan, but with a nostalgic title that might bright older audiences in.

    Sega obviously still needs a Nintento-calibur brand management team to tell them how to handle historic IP better.

  6. Jesus says:

    “Type the words “Generic Anime Mobile Game” in Google image search and you’ll the above image.”
    I mean, you’re right but that’s because it links me back to this article

  7. X.Q.Jonah says:

    Again with the “waifu” nonsense. I’m convinced you have no idea what that means.

  8. Ikagura says:

    Let’s hope they’ll use the money from the game to make an actual console Phantasy star game

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  11. Jean-Pierre says:

    You are correct. This game is awful and a disgrace to the Phantasy Star legacy.

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