Tuesday Feb 24, 2009
Phantasy Star has a dear place in my heart. It was my first exciting experience with an online world with the Dreamcast version of Phantasy Star Online, and I’ve worked on Phantasy Star Universe since launch and beyond. Within the SEGA community team, we have very different backgrounds with Phantasy Star. We thought it would be fun to play Phantasy Star Portable as a multiplayer session and post our impressions.
From the first boot screen to the character builder, I was back in familiar territory and ready for some multiplayer action with the team. Phantasy Star Portable offers a pretty faithful version of the Phantasy Star Universe, right down to the attacks, animations, and levels. Starting Unsafe Passage, the starter mission from PSU, we moved out to find our rewards and level our characters.
Of our play session, I had two things I really enjoyed – the way loot is addressed and the charge attack mechanic. The Charge Attack is a throw back to Phantasy Star Online and allows you to time your attacks for greater benefit. Unlike Phantasy Star Online, the charge attack mechanic is not required, and you can defeat foes with rapid button presses. However, with a bit of finesse, you can time attacks to return power points (resource for bigger attacks) and add increased damage with a critical hit on each successful strike. This gives the combat a much more tactical approach in how you dispatch enemies and maximize your damage output. Very fun!
In regards to loot changes, I was very happy to see how items were distributed and it really hit home for me what Phantasy Star Portable was all about: teamwork. In Phantasy Star games of the past, if an item of value dropped (instantly viewable as a red box) all play stopped and it was a race to acquire it. This meant ranged players didn’t see rewards and there were often squabbles about who deserved what and the inevitable discussion of fairness. What’s the change? To appeal to teamwork and fairness, items that are found are given to the entire party! This allows for less concern about loot grabbing and more focus on the encounter at hand.
I really enjoyed our play session and am anticipating the release of Phantasy Star Portable on March 3rd!
Our intrepid SEGA Community Team didn’t hit anything too challenging in our foray into low-level missions, but nevertheless the PSP feels like the perfect platform to run around with a small group & kill SEED-infected monsters. We actually managed to clear a fair amount of low-level stuff in a short amount of time and the faster PA leveling made me just -ecstatic-. I’m really looking forward to seeing kind of group-play on a larger scale. The classes for Portable (more on this in future posts) allow for so much more flexibility in terms of how you build your group, and the idea of having a readily adaptable group of players for running against the big bosses is really appealing… Can’t wait!
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