It is no secret that major changes were made to the background, plot, and dialogueue of Phantasy Star while it was being translated from Japanese to English. It is also known that some changes, such as having the main character of Phantasy Star IV be named "Chaz" and not "Rudy," were done on purpose and were completely unnecessary. Why this was done we may never know, but the result is that the two versions of Phantasy Star are as different as they are alike.
The following is our attempt to document every known difference between the Japanese and English Phantasy Star titles. Some, like the above-mentioned name changes, are minor and make no real alteration to the games' plots. Some, like the origin of Algo, are incredibly major and are the changes most responsible for the two separate continuities we call The Two Phantasy Stars.
(Note: PSOPC stands for The Phantasy Star Official Production Compendium, a book published in Japan by Soft Bank and translated into English by Rebecca Capowski. All quotes attributed to the PSOPC come from Rebecca's translation.)
Date: Japanese PSI takes place in AW 342. English PSI takes place in Space Century 342.
This change seems minor at first, but when PSII's date is taken into consideration, the change becomes more profound. Japanese PSII's date is AW 1284, which means 942 years have passed since Japanese PSI. However, according to English PSII's opening narration, "over 1000 years have passed" since English PSI. While the change from "AW 342" to "Space Century 342" was obviously deliberate, we doubt that the change from a 942 year gap to a 1000 year gap was, as well. However, though unintentional, this is still a major difference which alone places the Japanese and English Phantasy Star series on different continuity timelines.
On a related note, regarding the AW calendar, in Japanese Phantasy Star, AW stands for "After Waizz," referring to Waizz Landeel, Alis's ancestor and the first to establish a fiefdom on Palma, some 342 years before Japanese PSI. However, the fact that Waizz Landeel is never mentioned in any English Phantasy Star game, along with the fact that the AW calendar does not debut in English Phantasy Star until PSII, raises the possibility that the origin of the AW calendar may be yet another difference between the two Phantasy Stars.
Lassic's Corruption: The PSOPC refers to the following events as having taken place a year before Japanese PSI: "La Shiec learns the secret of the Algol Solar System's genesis. Forming a space-time gate, he comes into contact with the sealed-away spirit-life form. As a result, he summons the projected body of the Profound Darkness, Dark Force, and becomes its loyal servant. That same year, a reign of terror begins."
This is much, much different than the explanation given for English PSI in English PSI's instruction booklet: "It started with a new religion which was rumored to have come from another galaxy. The dark priests of this religion, never seen by any mortal, promised immortality to all who joined. ... The idea of living forever appealed to him [Lassic] so he became the first to join. Then, he... changed. It started with the threatening suit of armor the priests made for him. The armor looked evil and corrupt, and that's how Lassic began to rule his people."
In other words, in Japanese PSI, the force that corrupts Lassic is something that he seeks out; in English PSI, the corrupting force seeks him out. This change is major because this implies that in English PSI there are other forces at work behind-the-scenes in Algo with a plan to corrupt Lassic, while no such implication exists in Japanese PSI.
Alis's fate: In Japan only, Sega released two Phantasy Star titles for the Game Gear, Phantasy Star Adventure and Phantasy Star Gaiden. It is noteable to mention that Phantasy Star Gaiden even featured the return of Alis Landale, and the introduction of her daughter! However, as these games were never released in America, they are not necessarily a part of the English canon (and their canonity in the Japanese Phantasy Star universe is also questionable).
Character Names: In order to accomodate English PSI's four character name arrays, certain Japanese names like Alicer and Tylon had to be changed to short, four-letters-or-less names like Alis and Odin. However, in Japanese PSI, the character known in the English version as Noah was named Lutz. Obviously, "Lutz" would have fit into a four character array, so this change must be considered deliberate. This name change would also contribute to a much larger difference between the English and Japanese games when, in Japanese PSII, Lutz from Japanese PSI returned; however, in English PSII, the resident of Esper Mansion who aids Rolf is named "Lutz," not "Noah," creating a situation where, unlike Japanese PSII, the Esper who aids Rolf is not necessarily the same as the Esper who aided Alis.
Further, Japanese PSI's villains also had different names. Darkfalz was Dark Phallus. This change was obviuously necessitated by English PSI's eight-character enemy name arrays. However, Japanese PSI referred to Algo's king not as "Lassic" but as "La Shiec." This change must also be considered deliberate, because "La Shiec" could have fit into PSI's eight-character enemy name array.
Planet Names: Japanese Phantasy Star features the Algol Star System, with the planets Parma, Motabia, Dezolis, and Ryucross. Various translations of these names appear throughout the series. Parma is changed to English as Palma, Palm, and Parma; Motabia is changed to Motavia and Mota; Dezolis is changed to Dezoris, Dezo, and Dezolis; and Ryucross is changed to Rykros. If it's any consolation, the Japanese games couldn't keep it straight either, as "Dezoris" appears in the PSIV sound test, and "Motavia" appears in Hugh's PSII Telemodem game.
Gold Dragon: English PSI's Gold Dragon is instead called "Gold Drake" in Japanese PSI.
Hit Point Restoration: Japanese PSI features Perolimate, a candy bar type item that when used on a character restores 40 HP. (This same item appears as Perolymate in English PSIV.) In English PSI, 40 HP are restored by using a Burger.
Ruoginin restores 10 HP in Japanese PSI. In English PSI, Cola does the same thing.
These must be considered deliberate changes, as "Perolimate" could have been shortened into an eight-letter English PSI item name as "PEROMATE" and "Ruoginin" would have fit without change. Also, it's important to note that these are not mere name changes. One look at the items' pictures in their respective instruction books shows that the items share more differences than just name.
Perolimate and Ruoginin
Burger and Cola
Laerma: Japanese PSI features Laerma Berries which Myau eats to grow in size and become endowed with wings. In English PSI, Laerma Nuts have the same effect on Myau. This change must be considered deliberate. True, English PSI item names must be eight characters or less, but that doesn't stop the ten charatcer "Laerma Nut" from appearing on the Inventory screen. "Laerma Berry" could have easily been shortened to "L.BERRY" with room to spare.
Magic Lamp: Japanese PSI's version of English PSI's Magic Lamp is called the Light Pendant. This change becomes much more interesting when Phantasy Star Gaiden's Light Pendant, an item Mina and Alec later find is from Mina's mother, Alis, is taken into consideration. Changing "Light Pendant" to "Magic Lamp" takes a nice link to PSI out of Phantasy Star Gaiden.
Title: The full title of Japanese Phantasy Star II is "Phantasy Star II: At the End of the Restoration." English Phantasy Star II has no subtitle.
Great Disaster: In the original Phantasy Star, the order of the planets of the Algol system from the Algol star is Motavia, Palma, Dezoris. However, in Phantasy Star II, the order is Palm, Mota, Dezo. In Japanese Phantasy Star, we are told that a freak alignment of the planets with Algol caused Palm and Mota to switch orbits. This event is called the Great Disaster. In English Phantasy Star, however, no explanation for the orbit swap is ever given.
Death at Gaila: In Japanese Phantasy II, Rolf and his friends actually die at Gaila, but their bodies are recovered and cloned by Tyler. In English Phantasy Star II, however, Rolf and friends are rescued before death.
Character Names: Several character names were changed. Some of those changes were necessary in order for the names to fit into the four-letter character name displays. Many, however, were totally unnecessary. For example, Japanese Rudger became English Rudolph, which is shortened to Rudo, when the name could have been left as Rudger and simply shortened to Rudy. Japanese Anne and Amia practically swapped names, becoming the English Amy and Anna. And the Japanese Huey became the somewhat less silly-sounding English Hugh.
Last names were also changed. Saga became Sage, Reane became Thompson, Amirski became Zirski, Ji An became Kain, and Levinia became Gold.
Additionally, the title of the man we know as the Commander/Governor was the Governor-General/Viceroy in Japan, as it was in the original Japanese Phantasy Star.
Kain In Love: In Japanese Phantasy Star II, it is thought that Kain is in love with Nei, and this might be part of the reason for his joining Rolf's team. But not even the slightest hint of such a dynamic is present in English Phantasy Star II.
Ustvestia's Sexuality: In Japanese Phantasy Star II, the piano teacher, Ustvestia, is openly homosexual. When a male party member volunteers to be taught the Musik technique by Ustvestia, Ustvestia replies, "He looks cute." Ustvestia then proceeds to charge the male party member less for the lesson than he would charge a female party member.
However, in the English Phantasy Star II, Ustvestia simply says, "He looks smart." The gender-based disparity in the fee for learning Musik is left unexplained.
Obviously, this change was completely unnecessary. Sega most likely had the change made so as to avoid the possibility of offending gamers with strong opinions about homosexuality. But the Ustvestia character is so minor and so innocuous that it is hard to believe anyone could ever be offended by him.
Item Names: In the Japanese Phantasy Star II a number of regular one-use items had different names and, therefore, some of them become different kinds of objects. The traveling pipes were called the Journey, Warding-Off, and Stealth Ocarinas. Star Mist and Moon Dew were the Star and Moon Atomizers. Antidote was called Antipoison.
Equipment Item Names: A handful of items had their names needlessly changed during translation. Bandannas became scarves, for example, and while "bandanna" may not fit in the item window, the "band" abbreviation used in Phantasy Star IV would have. Capes were called Fibliras in Japanese Phantasy Star II, which is what women's capes are called in Phantasy Star III, and the Bar items were called Claws, like in Phantasy Stars III and IV. Similarly, all the Fiber items are known as the Glass items in Japan.
There are a few other changes. Shoes and Boots are Leather Shoes and Boots, the stronger Boots have different names (Helitham, Schnera, and Guarder, respectively), and the Neicape is the Neifield.
Title: While English Phantasy Star III is called "Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom," the Japanese version is called "Successors of Time: Phantasy Star III."
Dates of the Devastation War and Rhys' Quest: Arguably the most profound change made to English Phantasy Star III was the date of the Devastation War being bumped back a full thousand years.
In Japanese Phantasy Star III, the Devastation War occurs one thousand years after the exodus from Palm, which occurred during Phantasy Star II. Since the events of Phantasy Star III begin one thousand years after the war, Japanese Phantasy Star III begins two thousand years after Phantasy Star II.
In English Phantasy Star III, however, it is said that the exodus from Palm took place only one thousand years ago. This means that the Devastation War also took place only a thousand years ago -- at right about the same time as the exodus itself.
This drastically changes the setting of the game. It means that Orakio, Laya, and the other legendary figures of the Devastation War were all natives of Palm who lived under Mother Brain. It also means that there has never been a lasting peace on Alisa III, for the war broke out at right around the time the ship was launched. While these changes might not affect events in-game, they do profoundly affect the way the characters and setting are perceived by the game player.
This is significant because the change was completely unnecessary! The man in the town of New Mota who says that the flight from Palm took place one thousand years earlier could just as easily have been made to say that it was actually two thousand years ago, thus keeping English Phantasy Star III in step with the Japanese version. One wonders whether this was a deliberate change or a simple error. And if it was a deliberate alteration, why was it done?
Date of Ayn's Quest: In Japanese Phantasy Star III, Ayn is eighteen years old when he sets out to find Satellite. But in the English Phantasy Star III he is only fifteen years old. There was absolutely no reason for this alteration. In fact, the game would have made more sense had this change not been made, as it would have placed both second generation quests in the same year (thus making it unnecessary to try to explain why it took Lune three years longer than Siren to restart the war).
It seems likely that, since Thea is known to be fifteen years old during Ayn's quest in Japanese Phantasy Star III, the translators simply goofed and thought Ayn was fifteen as well.
Character Names: First, in Japanese Phantasy Star III, each Palman character had a last name, with most of the last names acting as references to the characters' countries of origin. These last names do not exist in English Phantasy Star III.
Secondly, many first names were also changed unnecessarily. Player characters with four-letter names were given different four-letter names, and non-player characters also had names changed. Here is a complete list: Kane became Rhys, Marlena became Maia, Lann became Thea, Lynn became Sari, Lane became Nial, Luise became Alair, Laia (elder) became Laya, Laia (younger) became Laia, Laia (daughter of younger Laia) became Gwyn, Noin became Crys, Fuin became Adan, Ruin became Aron, and Luna became Kara (which is actually quite a suiting name for her, seeing as she is the princess of the moon).
Cyborgs vs. Androids and Robots: In the Japanese Phantasy Star III, Mieu and Miun are said to be androids, just like Demi and Wren in Phantasy Star IV. Wren (Shirren), Siren, and the lesser AIs of Alisa III are considered robots. In English Phantasy Star III, however, the entire group is known collectively as "cyborgs."
Age of Mieu and Wren: In English Phantasy Star III, Mieu and Wren, though of uncertain age, are both around a thousand years old. We know for certain that both predate the Devastation War.
In Japanese Phantasy Star III, however, Mieu is in her 500s and Wren is in his 800s. That difference is notable in and of itself, but it also means that the story of how Mieu and Wren came to be who, what, and where they are is also changed. For if neither is quite one thousand years old, neither could have had any affiliation with Orakio.
Twin vs. Elder: In English Phantasy Star III, it is said that Rulakir is Orakio's twin brother. However, in the Japanese Phantasy Star III, he is the elder brother of Orakio.
Item Names: Virtually every item has different names in Japanese Phantasy Star III. The Japanese names are much more colorful and interesting. Although some are too long to fit in the item name slot if written in English, many would have worked just fine (especially if the item type, such as Sword or Knife, was abbreviated). Here are a few examples: Knight Sword, Emperor Sword, Sorrow Knife, Princess Knife, Glory Staff, Disguise Staff, Time Slicer, Sadness Slicer, Lynx Claw, Chaos Claw, Bow of Order, Delight Bow, Sunrise Helmet, Fog Bandanna, Eclipse Armor, Galaxy Mantle, and Birdkill Needle.
Also, a number of special equipment items from Phantasy Star II also appear in Japanese Phantasy Star III. These include the Green Sleeves, Aegis (Holy Ark Shield), Storm Gear, Snow Crown, and Sword of Ango (Anger Sword). One wonders why these item names were changed when they would have made for a nice direct link with Phantasy Star II.
Title: Japanese PSIV isn't exactly "Phantasy Star IV" at all. Japanese PSIV is actually called "Phantasy Star: The End of the Millennium" (or, when written in Japanese, "Phantasy Star: At the End of the Millennium). This subtitle does appear on English PSIV's title screen, but elsewhere, all box, book, and cartridge art refers to the game as "Phantasy Star IV."
Algo's Origin: English PSIV explains the origin of Algo through the words of Le Roof: "Many billions of years ago... a spiritual life form split into two lesser beings, who eventually began to fight... After a long and terrible battle, there was finally a victor. The winner banished the enemy spirtual life form to another dimension. We call the victorious side The Great Light and the defeated one The Profound Darkness."
However, Japanese PSIV has a different take on the events, according to the Chronological Table in the PSOPC:
Several Hundred Million Years Ago - In an unspecified solar system, a civilization of spirit-life forms divides, and an interplanetary war breaks out.This change -- obviously deliberate and not necessitated by character limits -- is staggering. In Japanese PSIV, the split of an entire race of beings is ultimately responsible for the creation of The Great Light and The Profound Darkness, while in English PSIV, these beings are brought about by the split of a single being. On the surface, this change is trivial, but the fact that we are dealing with the very origin of the Algo system makes it quite a huge difference, indeed.
2,000,000 Years Ago - The war is settled. As a result of the victorious side sealing the defeated side away, one fixed star and four planets are created, "Protectors of the Seal" are made on the four planets, and one kind of sentient life form is allocated to each.
300,000 Years Ago - The entire race of victors is wiped out. Except on the fourth planet, Ryucross, the beings of the other three planets, with the passing of each successive generation, begin to forget the mission of those made Protectors. Meanwhile, in their inter-dimensional prison, the sealed-away spirit-life forms transform into a wicked being, the accumulation of spirits of hatred and vengeance, and, at its core, a profound darkness is formed.
The Great War: English Phantasy Star IV's instruction booklet refers to an event taking place some 2000 years earlier, The Great War. While the English Phantasy Star series in no way elaborates on what this Great War was, the Japanese series never mentions it at all, so it must be considered an event that takes place exclusively in the English continuity.
Soldier's Temple: In Japanese PSIV, Soldier's Temple was called Soldier's Sanctuary.
Images: Some of English PSIV's images were not in the game's Japanese release.
Character Names: In order to accomodate English PSIV's four character name arrays, certain Japanese names like Freyna and Thray had to be changed to short, four-letters-or-less names like Demi and Rune. However, Japanese PSIV also features four characters whose Japanese names were already four letters or less, and thus, whose names did not have to be changed: Rudy (Chaz), Fal (Rika), Lyla (Alys), and Pyke (Gryz). These changes must be considered deliberate.
For the record, the other character names changed between Japanese and English PSIV are: Thray (Rune), Forren (Wren), Freyna (Demi), Shess (Kyra), and Su Raja (Raja). In both games, Hahn is Hahn, but in Japanese PSIV, he is given the last name Mahlay.
But please listen, I don't know if you're aware of this, but... Mags are intelligent.
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