Here's a series that's been around the realm of
console gaming for almost the entire history of the genre. Phantasy
Star was the choice RPG for the Sega Master and Genesis systems, and
it was one of the earliest console efforts to make the jump to the online
realm for the Dreamcast. After that console's untimely demise, the
series went into semi-hibernation aside from a few re-releases, and Sega
itself went out of the console-making business altogether. Now, we have
Phantasy Star Universe for the PlayStation 2 and PC, and from the first
few glimpses, it looks impressive.
"...from the first
few glimpses, it looks impressive."
While playing a demo online title on a convention
floor is hardly indicative of real-world conditions, what I did sample of
Phantasy Star Universe had two major things going for it: it
looked good and it ran fast. Battles are of a fairly simple
hack-and-slash variety, although RPGamers will enjoy the smorgasbord of weapons
available, as one of the playable characters had three different types of
weapons to cycle through during battle. These ranged from melee weapons
to heavy mortar-type bazookas, capable of inflicting some impressive
Also impressive was the mapping interface, which
made going through the various dungeons (all that was available for the
10-minute demo) fairly easy. If the design of the particular dungeons
on display are any indication, at least this game should be ready for
some massive party adventuring, and developer Sonic Team made the smart
choice of not requiring a hard drive for this title, so it should be
available for a wide audience.
Monthly fees and contract stipulations haven't
been set yet, but what is known about Phantasy Star Universe's
future is that it is slated for a December release in Japan and a North
American release next February, so this is a title that will be coming
up shortly. A lot of the appeal to this title might depend on whether
you were a fan of the original Phantasy Star Online. It's worth a look if console
online titles are your thing.