In the Save Games Downloads section of Fringes of Algo, many saves for use with emulated versions of Phantasy Star games are presented. For those new to using emulators or save games, taking advantage of these offerings can be difficult. This guide is intended to help make the most of save games.

Throughout this page, specific emulator versions may be referenced. Since emulators and their usage change over time, some such information might be incorrect for other versions of the same emulator. It is always a good idea to glance over the documentation included with the emulator you are using for specific key assignments and other information.

General Tips

There are a few things that are usually true about all save games. Whenever you have a problem with a save game, check out these things first.

Most save games downloaded from web sites will be in a compressed format so you can download them more quickly. Usually this will be the .zip file format. Before you can use a save game, you need to decompress it. You may already have software for decompressing .zip files installed on your computer. If so, you just need to double click the .zip file to open it. Some software will give you a series of on screen prompts to follow; other software will let you simply drag the files to your desktop, uncompressing them in the process. If you do not have software for uncompressing .zip files, we recommend using 7-Zip. It is free and easy to use.

In almost all cases, after you download a save game and uncompress it, you will need to rename the uncompressed file. Many emulators require saved games to have a file name similar to that of the ROM they are used with. For example, let's say one has a Phantasy Star IV ROM file named pstar4.smd and a Phantasy Star IV save game file named rika.gs0. To use this save game with this ROM, you need to change the name of the save game file to pstar4.gs0.

Many emulators support multiple save slots. This means you could have several save game files for a game, with each file having a slightly different name. Such situations are popular among Genesis emulators, many of which use save game files with the extension .gs#, where # can be any number from 0 to 9. A pstar4.smd ROM can use save games named pstar4.gs0, pstar4.gs1, pstar4.gs2, pstar4.gs3, pstar4.gs4, pstar4.gs5, pstar4.gs6, pstar4.gs7, pstar4.gs8, and pstar4.gs9.

There are generally two types of save games: save states and save RAM. Save states, sometimes called "snapshots" or "freeze-files," save the condition, or state, of the game at a certain point. They can be taken at any time in a game and are unique to emulators. Most of the save games for download on this site are save states. Save RAM, or S-RAM, saves are the kind of saves a game would create when being played on the original console. You use the in-game menus to save and load this type of save game. While save states usually cannot be transferred between different language versions of games, save RAM files sometimes can be.

Cross-Emulator Compatibility

Some emulators support the use of save game files made with other, older emulators. For example, the Sega 8-bit emulator Meka can use save games created by Massage, a Master System and Game Gear emulator that was once widely used. The various Phantasy Star I, Gaiden, and Adventure save games for Massage that can be downloaded from Fringes of Algo can all be used in Meka by changing the extension of the save game files according to Meka's naming pattern.

Most Genesis emulators also support a common save game format, the .gs# file. This allows save games from almost any Genesis emulator to be used with other emulators. There is another format, .kss, that is exclusive to KGen, an older emulator. Later versions of KGen allow use of both the .kss and the .gs# format.

Selecting, Loading, and Saving

Ah, here comes the important part: using a save game you have downloaded. After you have decompressed your downloaded file, you need to place the save game in a folder where the emulator can locate the file. Some emulators allow you to specify where save games are stored in the program's preferences. Others will look for save games in the same folder that holds the ROM or emulator. Try placing the save game in those locations. When in doubt, load the ROM in the emulator and make your own save game. When you find out where that file appears, then you know where to place save you have downloaded.

The next thing to be aware of is save state slots. Some emulators allow a limited number of save states for a game. This is common among Genesis emulators, which often allow ten saves numbered 0 to 9. Each emulator provides a way of selecting the current slot in use. In some, this is as simple as pressing the number keys across the top of your keyboard. Others have menu options or use keys like F6, F7, and F8 for navigating slots. After you place your save game in the correct folder, you need to select the slot it will use. Usually there is a number in the filename to indicate the slot. For example, pstar4.gs7 uses save slot 7.

Saving a game in a save state can usually be done quickly by pressing a single button. Many emulators use the F5 key for this. Some may use F6 or another key and may have menu options for saving. Loading a save state is usually accomplished by pressing F7 or F8 after selecting the slot. Check the menu or documentation of the emulator you are using to determine which keys are used for each function, as it does vary from program to program.