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Rieko Kodama (Phantasy Star, Skies of Arcadia, 7th Dragon) has died


Wiper
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I was sad to read this on Twitter this morning. Her games meant a lot to me, particularly Phantasy Star 1 & 4.

 

Back in my youth, we got a second hand Master System which came with Phantasy Star and Spellcaster. For a Spectrum owner it seemed right out of the space age. While I never beat Phantasy Star legitimately back in the day, I'm fairly sure I saw the end credits thanks to a leftover save from a previous owner just before the Dark Force fight, and there was "Total Design: Phoenix Rie". I did legitimately beat Spellcaster though (thanks in a great part to a guide in an old copy of S Magazine that arrived with the console), and there again was "Phoenix Rie" (and also, if my memory serves me correctly, someone going by the pseudonym "Sexy Dynamite"). I knew it was a name to look out for, even though I didn't know who Phoenix Rie really was!

 

Phantasy Star 1 was my first ever RPG, and it gave me a party consisting of a female lead, a talking cat, Dolph Schwarzenegger and a non-binary wizard. That's how you do it! Amusingly, while Kodama's original intent of having Lutz be non-gender-specific was abandoned, the shoddy English translation managed to give Noah a mixture of male and female pronouns. Found in translation!

 

Phantasy Star 4, which Kodama directed, was one of the gems of what I think of as my emulation era, discovering all the great 16-bit JRPGs I missed out on via emulators like KGen96 and Snes9x. It's a perfect capstone on a series, generously embracing everything that had gone before, including the distinctly black sheep that was PS3. I've always been bewildered that no-one copied its anime-tile cutscene style, which along with the party-talk mechanism did so much to bring the characters to life.

 

To my great shame, I've never played Skies of Arcadia, although as a Phantasy Star fan, I was really excited when it was announced. I really must get a modded Dreamcast at some point and remedy that.

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