The 15 best video games of the 1980s

5 of 16

12. Phantasy Star

Released: 1987 (Japan) / 1988 (North America)

Platforms: Sega Master System, Mega Drive, Sega Saturn, PlayStation 2, Game Boy Advance, Wii Virtual Console

Although the above trailer is actually for the Phantasy Star PlayStation 2 remake, Phantasy Star Generation 1, it does capture some of the flavor of the game.

Like Q*bert before it on this list, Phantasy Star might not have reached the ubiquity of other franchises on this list, but it’s still a long-lived series, and the original game took a look at role-playing games like Dragon Quest and said there was something missing: a non-fantasy feel. Yes, sci-fi games were already out there (we’ll be talking about a few of them in a bit), but Phantasy Star took science fiction, then took the role-playing game, and combined the two, then added in a female protagonist for flavor.

Alis Landale has three planets to explore after her brother’s death, and for a game released in 1987, that’s a lot of real estate. Although the graphics may look a little silly now, particularly in the use of first-person segments where you may not expect them in an RPG of this type, that doesn’t stop the game from rolling with it.

It’s one of the harder titles to find on this list, but a used copy of Phantasy Star Collection will let you try this gem – and two of its sequels – out.