Remembering the Dreamcast: Phantasy Star Online – Part 1
- April 13th, 2010
- By MogKnight
One of the most popular titles on the Dreamcast, Phantasy Star Online, has hooked many players to console online playing for the first time. Phantasy Star Online is a product from the Sonic Team that took several game concepts, wrapped it in a nice package and brought it in a form of an online adventure that not only lets gamers play together but would bring the start of a console revolution for online gaming. PSO was a huge part of the Dreamcast and while there are no longer any official servers, the game still lives on in more ways than one. It is time to remember our trip to planet Ragol.
It would be a wrongdoing to not mention Phantasty Star Online in the Dreamcast’s history. Phantasy Star Online brought players to the planet of Ragol, a virtual world with many monsters and weird alien technology. Among all that was rare items that one could acquire and show off to all of their friends. PSO brought players many hours of content even though the game in itself is very short. It does this by offering the player many ways to customize their stats and enjoy their built characters while letting them interact with a community of other gamers. PSO was the first RPG game on console which not only brought online RPG gaming to console but also made it a huge focal point of the product. PSO was completely playable offline but the game’s full experience lies with the interactions and dealings with the online portion.
PSO’s story revolves around the exodus of the residents of a dying planet. Another planet must be located to ensure their survival and that planet was to be Ragol. Ragol seemed like the perfect planet to transfer everyone to. Upon discovery of Ragol, a ship called Pioneer 1 was sent out to investigate this planet to see if it was indeed livable. The checks turned out to be great and that it was the perfect place. The Pioneer 2 was sent out with the rest of the population based on these reports. However, just as the Pioneer 2 arrived, an explosion occurred on Ragol and everyone from Pioneer 1 vanished. In a state of panic, Hunters (the playable characters in the game) were sent down from Pioneer 2 to find the answer as to where everyone was and what caused that explosion.
PSO allowed you to create a character from nine different variations based on different classes, races, and genders. These classes would include Hunter (Melee), Ranger (Range), and Force (Caster) while the races would include Humans (average joe), Newmans (magic focused) and Androids (Strong Attack/Defense but unable to cast magic). The cast of nine would be increased to 12 in later PSO releases. Though customization would be fairly limited compared to the standards today, you can decide on character’s hair style, suit color, proportions and a name. After your character was made, it was time to either play online or offline and start off your Ragol investigation.
When playing offline, you can either hop straight to the surface of the planet and battle against the monsters and bosses straight up or you can choose to follow the quest storyline and join various NPCs on trips to the surface. Completing these quests will now only put you on sync to level concurrently with your progress through the game but also reward you with the ability to get rare items from certain NPCs and also meseta, the currency used for the game.
Playing the game online does not bring you to the game immediately. Instead, you are brought to a hub -like lobby where you can walk around and talk to other players. You can then create a game session and start killing monsters on Ragol. You can invite other players or have random players join your game at any time. You can also password lock your game if you want some privacy and want to play with specific people. You can have up to four players in one game and because you’re no longer solo, the monsters are significantly powerful compared to offline mode and the rare drop and experience points gain rate increases. There are also online specific quests as well that players can partake as a group.
At the time, this was great, it was fun, it was hours and hours spent full of enjoyment… but it was far from perfect. Next post: Online in detail and the annoying parts!