Many people talk about what a tragic event the death of Nei in Phantasy Star II was, and while I concur that it was tragic, I do not feel it is the ultimate tragedy of the game. In my opinion, that dubious honor goes to the destruction of the planet Palma, the homeworld of Alis Landale herself. The loss of the capital planet of the Algo system has always been the defining moment of Phantasy Star II in my eyes. The game's creators knew what they were doing when they blew up Palma; Nei's death was bad enough, but to eliminate Palma, a planet the gamer spent hours journeying across with Alis and her friends, a planet that Nero Landale, in part, died to try to protect... It is a convenient way of instantly making the player of Phantasy Star II say, "All right, Mother Brain... now it's personal!"
But all of the sadness at the destruction of Palma is turned into happiness in Phantasy Star III, when it is revealed that the people of Palma actually escaped the planet's destruction. The world itself may be gone, yes, but the people survived. This revelation is perhaps the most uplifting moment in the entire series. How the escape came to be is described by the scholars of New Mota:
"We're the descendants of the people of Palm, a planet that once circled the distant star Algo. Palm was destroyed by an evil being that haunts us every 1,000 years, bringing death and ruin. This evil incarnate is known as Dark Force!"
"The people of Palm were thinkers and creators. They knew of the plans made by the evil being. When the vile Dark Force stirred 1,000 years ago, preparations were made to escape from Palm."
"Our ancestors built a fleet of 400 spaceships. This armada escaped the destruction of Palm and set off into space to find a new homeland."
I don't think a single Phantasy Star fan debates any of this information. Problems arise, however, when one asks the question, "What happened next?" For the games themselves give us two different answers to this query.
The answer as given by a New Mota scholar in Phantasy Star III:
"Our ancestors thought they had at last escaped from the clutches of the undying master of evil. But Dark Force managed to slip aboard a ship. It destroyed all but one of our sister ships before Orakio and Laya trapped it on Alisa III. Now there are only two ships left of our fleet: our ship, the Alisa III, and the Neo Palm."
The answer as given by Rika, reading from the Wreckage computer, in Phantasy Star IV:
"Wait... This is not the only ship that escaped from Parma! It seems that other similar ships were able to escape successfully. Most of them landed either in Motavia or Dezolis, but it looks like some of them went right out of the Algo solar system. I can't get an accurate number, but it looks like some tens of ships."
Both of these scenarios can not be true. Either Dark Force destroyed all but two of the ships, or "most" (ie, more than half, ie, 200+) of them landed on Motavia or Dezoris. Because the games give us two different possibilities, it is up to the individual gamer to decide which of the two he prefers to use as his own personal interpretation.
The flaws of Scenario IV
Personally, I do not subscribe to Scenario IV, for three main reasons.
The first reason is this: Let us assume for a moment that Scenario IV is correct. After escaping from Palma, most of the worldships decide to land on Motavia and Dezoris. Yet this landing is never seen anywhere in Phantasy Star II. Are we to honestly believe that the landing of 200+ massive worldships full of Palman survivors landing all over Motavia and Dezoris was simply not shown to us within the game? That is far too much of a stretch for me.
It is undeniable that the ships were "cloaked" in some way when they departed from Palma, else Tyler would have seen the worldships escaping when he recorded the footage of Palma's destruction. But how 200+ of the worldships actually touching down on a planetary surface can go unnoticed, I do not understand.
But for my second reason, let's go back a bit further, before the worldships were launched from Palma. Let's assume the plan of the Palman escapees was to flee their doomed planet and head for Motavia and Dezoris. Why in the world would they build as their escape craft gigantic ships consisting of domed, habitable worlds, when their trip was to be just a quick jaunt across the system? Wouldn't it have been much simpler to create "cattle ships," if you will, big enough for every person on the planet to have a seat for the relatively short space hop over to the next planet?
Clearly, the very worldships themselves are the proof that they were designed to be long-term homes for the Palman refugees. If the Alisa III and the image seen on the Wreckage's screen are any indicators, every worldship was designed so that its domes would contain an assortment of landscapes, from plush green valleys to frigid tundras to arid deserts. It is absolutely illogical to suggest that such massive, living worlds were designed simply to get the Palmans from Palma to Motavia or Dezoris.
Finally, there is the matter of our source for Scenario IV. Rika reveals this information to the rest of the group as she reads it from the Wreckage computer. She is no expert on the issue, as she clearly does not know about the fleet ahead of time. ("Wait...," she says. "This is not the only ship that escaped from Parma! It seems that other similar ships were able to escape successfully.") This alone is certainly not enough to dismiss the scenario, but when combined with the first two strikes against it, the believability of Scenario IV is greatly reduced.
Scenario III is the more logical choice
With the problems inherit in Scenario IV, we are left with Scenario III as our only viable option. The problem with explaining why the landing of the worldships is never seen is not an issue here, as under this scenario, the ships never landed. Further, there is no conflict with the origins of the worldships under this version of their fate, for here they are doing exactly what they were designed to do. Finally, there are no credibility problems with the source of this scenario, for as the New Mota scholars say, "We are the keepers of our people's history. For 1,000 years we have kept the past alive."
But this is not to say that Scenario III is not without its own problems. We can not simply pretend that Rika never said what she said. So why does she say it?
My take on the issue is this: I believe that the worldships tried to land on Motavia and Dezoris, but upon entering planetary orbit, they malfunctioned. When it became obvious that there was some flaw in their ships that caused them to break down when entering orbit, they backed off and fled the system -- thus explaining what Rika says regarding the other ships: "Most of them landed either in Motavia or Dezolis, but it looks like some of them went right out of the Algo solar system." She is reading from the computers of a ship that malfunctioned; at the time of its last sensor records, the ships were indeed headed for a landing, but that is when the Wreckage broke down, so it has no record of the fact that the landings were abandoned, and all of the remaining ships fled the system.
This is not as wild an idea that just comes out of nowhere as it may seem to be at first. Yes, the worldships were undeniably originally designed to support life for long, long, long-term periods of time, but what if, on their way out of the star system, the worldships attempted to stop at Motavia and Dezoris to pick up anyone living there who wanted out from Mother Brain's tyrannical rule? However, as the first ships entered orbit around Motavia, preparing to drop their cloaks and take aboard more passengers, they malfunctioned.
One objection may be that such a mass breakdown when entering orbit is a stretch, but consider: another related question to this whole situation has always been, How did the Palmans create such a huge fleet without Mother Brain knowing about it? Well, who is to say she didn't? Who is to say she didn't allow the ships to be created while making sure she had a "back-door" way into them, so as to take control of them at worst or, more likely, to cause them to simply malfunction if they attempted to land on Motavia or Dezoris? It's as if she were saying, "Fine, leave the system, but don't touch my precious Motavia! If you do attempt to land in your nice new ships, they'll break down on you."
When the first ships attempting a landing start to malfunction, the fleet abandons its plan to take aboard passengers from Motavia and Dezoris before fleeing the system, and instead simply flee the system immediately. Despite the malfunctions, many are still able to break orbit and continue on their way, but one -- the Wreckage ship -- is unable to escape, and ends up stuck in orbit over Motavia.
Follow the conjecture, or take Rika at her word?
I will grant you that my explanation for Rika's words is conjecture -- just as any explanation someone who followed Scenario IV would make for why the facts presented in Scenario III are invalid would also be conjecture -- but I would submit this question to you: what is the alternative? If we are to follow Scenario IV, in which the Wreckage ship malfunctioned in orbit while "most" of the other ships continued to land on Motavia and Dezoris, does that not mean that "most" (ie, 200+) ships continued to land on Motavia's surface, completely ignoring their sister ship stranded in orbit? Rika herself says, in reference to the Wreckage ship, "They floated around in space until all the humans aboard died."
It is simply unfathomable to me that tens and tens of Palman worldships would continue to touch down on Motavia while the people aboard their sister ship died slow deaths. The idea that the ships landed can not explain this complete disregard Palman refugees had for their fellow man. However, the explanation of Rika's words under Scenario III, the idea that the ships tried to land but were forced to back off after it became obvious that any ship that entered orbit would break down, this idea can explain this abandonment.
As I said at the beginning of this essay, like the issues of Phantasy Star II's Date and Noah and Lutz, the fate of the worldships is not an issue that can be conclusively proven one way or the other, as the games present us with two equally viable possibilities. It is up to the individual gamer to decide which he finds more believable.
When a side-by-side comparison of the two possibilities is made, it is clear that not only do the underlying facts of Scenario III come from a group of experts on the escape from Palma, rather than from someone who is simply reading about the issue for the first time, but that scenario is also consistent with the concept of what the worldships were built for in the first place. Personally, I consider Scenario III to be the most logical choice.
Other Theory Pages
The Two Phantasy Stars |
Separate But Equal
Phantasy Star II's Date |
Noah and Lutz
Character Birthdays |
Phantasy Star II's Ending |
Fate of the Worldships |
Phantasy Star Online Numans |
Phantasy Star Online's Date
Ragol is Not Earth |
Why the Earthmen Truly Are Evil |
The Whole New World
On the Characters and Story of Phantasy Star I |
Phantasy Star and the Raglan Scale
The True Message of Phantasy Star II