December 21st has finally arrived, marking the long awaited release of Phantasy Star Online in Japan. However, Sega is apparently meeting with more than its share of difficulties in getting the Dreamcast title running online properly.
After an 18-hour service outage, which lasted nearly the entire release day, an official apology was posted, stating that "problems have arisen in the server certification database that are rendering the servers inoperable." Users were asked to stop attempting to connect to the malfunctioning servers, and to await confirmation of the servers' repair. During this time period, gamers who tried to get online would receive an "Incorrect Serial Number" message.
While this server problems have apparently now been resolved, there have been numerous complaints on the Sonic Team's web board in regards to the workings of the online game itself. Gamers have found that, when they are finished with their session of Phantasy Star Online, they cannot simply turn off the console. Unless they disconnect via the "End Game" option, users risk losing all their character information. While the game will automatically save the data in the case of a network disconnection or if the reset button is pressed, it seems that this is not the case with the power button, or if users open the lid of the system.
While the trial version of the game seemed to run perfectly for the month leading up to the release, it seems the changes made for the final version have brought some unexpected difficulties. Hopefully these issues will be taken care of prior to the game's North American release, still scheduled for late next month.