The GameCube version of Phantasy Star Online has been in hiding since it was first announced, but that is slowly being rectified. Sega has revealed details for the newly renamed installment in the popular series.
Now titled Phantasy Star Online Episode 1 & 2, the game will officially debut, together with the GameCube's modem, some time later in the year. There will however be a trial period that is set to start in Japan as soon as May. When the game launches in Japan, gamers will be able to pick up several packages that include the game and various combinations of the modem, PSO keyboard/controller and the system. It's unknown whether these same packages will be offered in North America.
Yuji Naka, the game's producer, did elaborate on some of the upcoming game's new features. Three new characters will be available: HUcaseal (hunter / ninja), FOmar (mage) and RAmarl (ranger). The game will also be host to two new worlds (Jungle Area and Coastal Area) and new monsters. The GameCube's increased graphical capabilities are being utilized to spice up the look of the game, and gamers without Internet connections will be glad to hear that there will also be an offline four-player splitscreen mode.
Naka hinted at other GameCube-exclusive features, but did not elaborate. He has been quoted as saying that the game is being treated as a "sequel", which is good news for GC owners. No word yet on the specifics on the North American release of the game, but that is sure to change in the near future.