If I had a top 10 list of favorite games for the Sega Master System Phantasy Star would be #1. And despite the English version still being the amazing game that it is I know for a fact that it’s not everything that the Japanese version is.
After discovering a fan translated version of Phantasy Star by SMS Power I knew right away I wanted a dedicated cartridge of this creation for my Sega Master System.
What exactly is the SMS Power Phantasy Star?
It’s still Phantasy Star that you know and love for the Sega Master System. The graphics and engine are identical. But many names/labels have been lengthened now that character limit restrictions have been removed and some names have been changed to their original version or renamed to something that fits better into the Algo Universe. But when it comes right down to it this SMS Power re-imaging of Phantasy Star offers two primary changes that I could not resist.
1) FM (Frequency Modulation) Sound hardware was only installed in Japanese Sega Master System consoles and as a result the English Phantasy Star had it’s FM software code removed from the cartridge. So even if you have a modified Sega Master System console capable of playing FM sound there was still no English version of Phantasy that supported FM. ** The PowerBase Mini FM is also a great way to get FM Sound without modding. **
2) There is nothing wrong with the original English version of Phantasy Star. It is awesome as it is. What SMS Power have done to breath a bit of new life into the game is fill out the story and dialog. With the SMS Power re-imagining of Phantasy Star we get what I personally feel is a fuller richer telling of the story. By expanding on what we already know this SMS Power version makes the characters and NPC’s feel more alive and engaged with each other.
** Before you read any further know that purchasing a Flash Cart for your Sega Master System or Sega Genesis (or using Emulation) will make all the crazy work below entirely unrequired. Search http://www.aliexpress.com for inexpensive Flash Carts or http://www.stoneagegamer.com if you’re willing to spend more. **
The first thing I did was to admit to myself that I had no idea how to replace the original Phantasy Star software on an original Sega Master System cartridge with this SMS Power version. So I went to the experts and asked for some help. Below is a link to a thread I started at smspower.org about this little project:
The people over at the smspower.org forums are excellent. They knew I didn’t have a clue and they kept on helping and in the end I got my little victory 🙂 Thank you!!
Above is the finished project. The IC (integrated Circuit) with the silver label with ‘PS’ written on it is an EPROM with the SMS Power Phantasy Star written to it. The IC just to the right is the original Phantasy Star ROM that I had to remove. I will keep it and cherish it always.
Above is a close-up of my work. It doesn’t look like much but it was a long road getting here. I had to learn a lot of new tricks to get this done. And anyone who solders I’m sure will agree that the job I did is pretty messy. I believe both my Soldering Iron and Solder were too large for the job. Next time I think I can do better.
Preparing the EPROM is where I had a lot of trouble. The two tools I needed to purchase were an EPROM Ultra Violet Eraser and an IC programer. I also bought two IC’s (chips) to write the SMS Power Phantasy Star ROM to (I wanted a backup in case I broke one). Both of these ICs could not be read by my MiniPro IC Programmer (and some others I had could be read). I suspect that there is something wrong with my MiniPro IC Programmer but there are so many variables for a novice like myself that I just can’t be sure where I was going wrong:
Are the EPROMs I purcahsed OK?
Did I erase the EPROMs correctly?
Was I using the the programmer correctly?
The solution I came up with was to have someone else write the software (the game) to the ERPOM for me. I found Fox1 over at the neo-geo.com forums who for a very small fee burned the SMS Power Phantasy Star onto an appropriate EPROM for me.
When I received the EPROM I soldered it into the Phantasy Star circuit board and it worked and played perfectly in my Sega Master System.
Even though I took the long way around I am really happy to have the SMS Power Phantasy Star on a dedicated Cartridge. It’s a quality fan project that was entirely worth the effort!
Below is a recording of the first 1 hour 29 minutes of me playing my new Phantasy Star on actual hardware. I loved every minute and I’m still going strong 🙂
You can jump around the video to see some of the new dialog and hear the music and sound effects in FM. The longer I played more I started to prefer the FM music over the default PSG music.
You will hear Phantasy Star in full FM sound because previously I installed the FM Sound Board into my Sega Master System.
All those details can be found here:
Yikes, that’s a LOT of work just to get that (c)Lassic running. But it’s worth it if you’re that pleased and the game can finally be played without those pesky abbreviations and other stuff. 😀
You’re not kidding! But I really did learn a few things and I feel like I might have actually touched on some practical skills. 😛
I’ve played this version as well but I took the easy route and used a SMS flash cart
The Flash Cart really is the more realistic way. I’ve also tried playing the ROM on my Genesis Flash cart with the PowerBase Mini FM cart and you can actually get FM sound while playing on an actual Genesis.
What are your impressions of the SMS Power Phantasy Star? Enjoyed it? Preferred the original?
I didn’t get to play it much before I put my jp sms in storage and moved but I have the cart here and after being inspired by your blog to buy a sms i’ll be giving it a play to completion once my FM module arrives. From what I did play I enjoyed it more if only for the FM music.
Nice! Hold on tight to that Japanese SMS! That’s a really nice console to have. It’s great to hear you’re getting back into the SMS… and installing the FM Unit too! You’re not messing around 🙂
I really do think it’s a very fun mod for the system.