After a 4-year hiatus, Sega has announced the return of the long-running Phantasy Star series with a new mobile entry. Idola Phantasy Star Saga is the first of the franchise since the 2014 Phantasy Star Nova on the Playstation Vita. A couple days before, Sega hinted at the announcement of a new title with a countdown site for a mobile RPG to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the series.
As the announcement trailer and various gameplay screenshots have shown, Idola looks like a return to the standard turn-based combat system of the old PS2 days with which players are familiar. Sega promises a unique spin to the command-based system, but details will be released at a later date.
This refreshing take on the standard JRPG is a great change of pace from the Phantasy Star Online titles, as a return to form is always a welcome one. As the trailer has shown, the story takes place in the ravaged world of Vandoll, where giant monsters called Idola threaten to destroy mankind. With main characters Stella and Yuri, players join the Aries Knights in order to combat the creatures and bring peace back to the land. All the while, the god of destruction “Dark Falz” has been resurrected. The game is drawn in a beautiful 2D art style that adheres strongly to the smooth, pastel aesthetic of classic JRPG titles.
The development staff consists of key individuals that have worked on the Valkyria Chronicles and Phantasy Star Online series such as producer Shuntaro Tanaka and director Tomomasa Chin. As this is a mobile game, microtransactions naturally revolve around the gacha-system that most smartphone titles are based on. Similar to games like Fire Emblem Heroes, recruiting other playable characters revolve around a random “luck of the draw” system where rarity is dependent on starred ratings. We can only hope this system does not detract too much from the core gameplay or the accessibility of the title.
Idola Phantasy Star Saga will launch in Japan later this year on iOS and Android. There is no word of a western release for now. Pre-registering is now available for Japanese players.