Over the Christmas period, SEGA gave us all a festive gift and unveiled the opening to Phantasy Star Online 2, a game which hopefully should see release sometime this year. Naturally, all you PSO Phreaks (is this a word yet for the fanbase? It should be if not) rather enjoyed it, and so I dedicate the first Game of the Month of 2012 to you guys, with the first PSO on Dreamcast.
Phantasy Star Online will be remembered for a lot of things, not least the fact that it showed that you could present an MMO on consoles, and do it fairly well. Fair enough, it wasn't perfect, but then no other MMO on consoles have done any better, so we can't hold that against the game. Regardless, for a first crack at something new, it did it well.
Admission: I've never actually PSO DC online. I couldn't possibly comment on how well it played with a DC pad, but having played the same game on PC, I can say that the game itself played exactly the same as the single player mode, albeit with lobbies and parties. You know, like any other MMO ever released. For that reason, we probably shouldn't dig into that. It wasn't even anything new back then XD
But wait! A single player mode? In an MMO?!? Yep. Admittedly a little harder than the MMO side of things, it was the exact same game, only you were solo. On the plus side, you didn't have any team "mates" coming in and stealing your items when you died instead of reviving you, so there's always that. It did also mean that all loot you found was yours. Pluses all round.
Phantasy Star Online's story was standard fare. Something's gone wrong on the planet of Ragnol, and off you trot to find out what, facing the local wildlife, along with some mutated baddies, robots, dragons and the like along the way. The story doesn't throw any twists or turns through it's relatively brief lifespan. Indeed, if you were to go through the five areas with no trouble, you'd be done in about 10 hours or so. The extra quests given by NPCs in the hubworld do extend matters somewhat, but they add nothing to the main story, instead offering little distractions.
Make no mistakes: multiplayer is what this game is about, and where the most fun can be had. I had more fun playing the PC version with friends more than I did the Dreamcast version solo. And whilst subsequent entries in the series have tried the same formula, none of them have done as well as PSO did, which is a real shame.
So let us ring in the new year with Phantasy Star Online, and hope that the sequel recaptures some of the magic the original brought along with it 12 years ago.
Requests between 28th Nov and 4th Dec