#449 Phantasy Star Online

Posted: 19th September 2019 by Jeroen in Games
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815th played so far

Genre: Action/Role-Playing
Platform: Dreamcast
Year of Release: 2000
Developer: Sonic Team
Publisher: Sega

Following the disappearance of City of Heroes (even if it was found to have fan servers online this year), we set off to play as many of the online games as possible, especially MMORPGs that rely on it so much. When doing so, however, we missed out on Phantasy Star Online, mostly because it has a single player mode… just one that you need to connect to a server to to play.

Thankfully, having researched it earlier this year, we found that there were ways of playing the game on fan servers and getting through that way, so that’s what we’ve been doing to try and see what this, the MMORPG adaption of a Japanese JRPG series, is about.

Our Thoughts

It’s weird to walk through what I guess is a semi-lobby for a multiplayer game when you’re playing single player. After the process of setting up your character – which took some guessing as to what’s what – you end up in the space station that orbits the world you’ll be exploring, and it’s a mostly empty error, shops in some corners, that feel lifeless without other players. It also meant I felt confidence being weird on my own, so I guess it’s all trade offs.

I think the single player missions are somewhat different from the multiplayer ones, with both being useful, but either way I can see the general pattern being similar. You teleport down to the planet – at least at first always to the same area, but you expand where you can go as you get further into the story. Still, you learn the first area inside and out, several doors preventing your transit so you have to take a different route each time, but you still know the places to hit up to get your supplies. It starts to wear out its welcome a bit earlier than it takes to get a new area, but at least it gets you more areas eventually.

Character building is fairly straight forward. Partially you have the JRPG levelups, while you need to buy additional techniques and spells using your profit. It’s not too complicated, but the mysterious names means I needed a guide to really see what’s going on. The combat itself isn’t the best with those – the auto aim tends to lose focus quite quickly and when you rely on your spells, that leads to a lot of wasted tech points (the game’s MP). I probably made a mistake by picking a magic focused character here, but it still felt unnecessarily annoying. I hope this is better in multiplayer, though – this might have been me and bad AI on the NPC helpers.

Final Thoughts

One of the issues I obviously have is that this is an old MMO that hasn’t had the time put into it to upgrade it to modern standards. Its sequel is still online, but with only fans keeping the servers running, we have  a status quo where the game doesn’t move, and where some of the possible online appeal is lessened from its unofficial status. Still, there’s a decent game underneath and I can see how playing this with others could have been fun – especially with its sci fi story setting it apart from standard fantasy fare.