Throw back for the Ages, Phantasy Star Online

Phantasy Star Online is a really old Dreamcast title but due to its popularity it has made its way from the Dreamcast and PC to the Nintendo GameCube, Microsoft Xbox and its newest successor in Phantasy Star Online II now.

However for me this was a pinnacle moment, because it is a game that I have fallen in love with since I was a child and grew up playing it even now. The game is still around and people can play it on private servers or open up their own private servers for it since Sega has passed on the software and tools necessary for the fan-base to continue to play the title in Phantasy Star Online: Blue Burst.

The game was simply one of the greatest titles for the Dreamcast era ever conceived by Sega at the time. It had simple set goal on finding out what happened on the planet Ragol and what happened to Pioneer One and where all the people went after a explosion occurred that had triggered an ominous silence afterwards.

During the game you follow the footsteps of a lone Hunter / Scientist named Rico Tyrell in her quest to find out what happened and you ultimately learn her fate along the way by picking up her logs and reading them.

The level design for the game is very straight forward with only four areas initially from Forest, Caves, Mines, and Ruins. Those areas are broken up even more into areas of two, three, two and three again respectively so you won’t feel like you are getting overwhelmed and do allow you to grind bosses to level up if you want too also.

But the game really begins to shine when you start dialing up and connecting to the internet to play with your friends and hog the phone line so your parents can’t call anyone. Since the game was based on dial-up and also it did not have any DSL support at the time either.

I loved playing online and I got a copy of the game on the road to see my uncle where I snuck a tiny TV and a Dreamcast along with me just so I could play with my friends. Although my mother got rid of the tiny TV and I wasn’t able to play until i returned to Florida which was a massive disappointment.

As the game grew in popularity the game expanded when it was released on other consoles and more episodes were brought out to continue the story of Phantasy Star Online where in Episode II you learn about a military personnel named Flown and follow the same kind of trail you followed in Episode I with Rico.

Episode III however was met with harsh criticisms as Sega decided to develop that into a card game on the GameCube and it became stand alone which angered a lot of the fanbase and still remains one of the more hated titles to this day.

But in a act of repentance they only, a few years ago, created Episode IV to finish the story of Phantasy Star Online before the launch of Phantasy Star Online II.

In it you travel into the bowls of the earth where a meteor crashed and you have to investigate what transpired there only to discover one gigantic mega boss that it’s almost impossible to do alone. It leads to some of the greatest moments in gaming history with one of the most unforgettable boss-battles of all time and is to me a great conclusion to a unforgettable game that will always be amazing.

-Daniel Clatworthy-