Thursday Feb 26, 2009
“Do you ever wish you could dream? Like when you sleep?”
At some point during the story missions of Phantasy Star Portable, this is what Vivienne asks my character. My character is a CAST—if you aren’t familiar with Phantasy Star, the CAST are a race of sentient (but apparently, dreamless) robots—and so is Vivienne. I liked the idea of a shared moment of artificial intelligence introspection. While Phantasy Star Portable for the PlayStation Portable lacks something of the sprawling MMO-space offered by Phantasy Star Universe, it replaces this with the intimate, character-based interactions of RPGs. It’s a delight to see the story unfold in this world.
My first few hours of gameplay were filled with “Oh! I’m so glad they did that!” moments. More weapons drop with a lot more varied (and higher) elemental percentages. Also, you can now upgrade your weapons on any planet—not just the one where it was manufactured. You’re also given grinders to upgrade your weapons after every mission, and there is no chance of “breaking” your weapon, either. If you’ve ever sweated out upgrading an S-rank weapon from 7 to 8 grinds in Phantasy Star Universe, then you know what a boon this is.
Ultimately, Phantasy Star Portable has the joyous “wilderness/town” dichotomy that makes RPGs so much fun: you kill monsters, you get new weapons, you talk to NPCs, you get new missions. PSU’s player economy & trading mechanics have been stripped away from Phantasy Star Portable, and the game has been adjusted for this, in a big way—the end result feels like a game which has been truly tuned for solo & small-group play. I was surprised at how well it translated to the portable system while still feeling like all it kept all the fun things about Phantasy Star. It is exceedingly easier to get (and upgrade) weapons and items, but in a way that feels fun & well-paced—you’re not overpowered, and your progression matches the items you find in a way that mimics a good RPG more than a grind-it-out MMO.
Without spoiling too much—we’ll go into more depth about this at a later date—one of the coolest changes to Portable are the character classes. Classes can use many more types of weapons, and much higher ranks of weapons, than in Phantasy Star Universe—the classes have, essentially, been condensed & streamlined, making solo & party play both a ton of fun, since you can specialize or generalize in whatever way appeals to you.
Of course, I will invariably pick a class with melee specialization and the capability to dual-wield—that’s just how I roll. I have a long history of similar characters, from the current incarnation of Phantasy Star Universe to World of Warcraft to KOTOR to Baldur’s Gate, so imagine my joy when within several hours of gameplay I was wielding the much-ballyhooed Twin Beefedge (cooked to a crispy 10/10). While ordinarily I prefer a pair of sleek katanas or something similar, the Twin Beefedge weapon, though bulky, has the added bonus of setting enemies on fire. I considered myself mollified.
In addition to a surprising array of meat based weapons (I was also able to pair a “Beefedge Wellda” single-handed ‘blade’ with a ‘Master System’ ranged combat support unit–see above!), the game has the same delightful range of creatively designed weapons as its Phantasy Star predecessors; the ease of acquiring and using a varied palette is a big part of what made Phantasy Star Universe fun, and here it works that into a RPG environment. Ruby Eclipse has educated me on the Phantasy Star Online lineage of a lot of the Phantasy Star Portable items and it’s great to see so many creative weapons to mix-and-match in your character’s palette. This is one of the rare games where the individual items and weapons available deserve their own blog articles.
For me, the customization of a character is at least as important as the gameplay itself. The levels in Phantasy Star Portable are fast and furious and I love the gameplay to be sure, but it’s the options for character loadout that really draw me in. Even just getting up to level 20 or so, I noticed a huge amount of leeway in how I could customize my weapons and armor: my CAST, I believe, dreams of a full pallette of dual S-Rank sabers.
Posted by Edward@Sega in Phantasy Star Portable on 5:30:54PM Feb 26, 2009
SEARCH BY GAME
|No public Twitter messages.|
VIEW THE GALLERIES