Phantasy Star IV Disarmed

It recently came to light that Rieko “Phoenix Rie” Kodama passed away in May of this year. Kodama was a pioneer among women in the game industry as well as an incredibly talented designer, artist, and director. Just about all of her games, from early Sega arcade titles to the more recent 7th Dragon series, are well work playing. If you’re unfamiliar with her work and want to start at the pinnacle, however, I’ll point to Phantasy Star IV as the best game that involved Kodama—and perhaps Sega itself. 

Phantasy Star IV is a sci-fantasy RPG of rich of constant spectacle, a quest that spans a star system and rarely lacks for some cool new discovery. There are spaceships, sandworms, mutant conspiracies, tragic deaths, monstrous forces lurking behind other monstrous forces, and vast tributes to the previous Phantasy Stars. An even if you go in completely unfamiliar with the series, it’s easy to get caught up in the well-paced storyline and the case of bounty hunters, androids, aliens, sorcerers, and other oddities for the player to recruit.

One standout party member is Rika, a genetically engineered bestial Numan with an upbeat, mostly innocent worldview and big pointy ears. She’s also the subject of a little false advertising.

The back cover of Phantasy Star IV’s Japanese release shows Rika front and center with a giant mechanical arm. It’s something that would fit right into the game’s particular vision of space opera, where wizards and swordfighters could easily join up with a beast-girl armed with an unwieldy bionic appendage.