Monday Oct 18, 2010
Alright, so I might have just been looking for a good excuse to put up a picture of the stay puft marshmallow man here on the SEGA Blogs. But now I finally can – and it’s topical, no less!
Today we’ve teamed up with gaming website 2d-x.com to bring you a new unlockable code for a special saber in Phantasy Star Portable II! It’s called the ‘Furious Marshmallow’, and it’s a fun special item you can use for those days when you’re craving a s’more – or simply want to bash in some booma heads.
“I tried to think of the most harmless thing. Something I loved from my childhood. Something that could never ever possibly destroy us!”
You can find the code on their website here!
In other PSP:2 news, please note that in the near future there may be an update to the online servers that will require you to re-download your Little Wing License. Worry not though, it’s for a very good reason – we’ve got more news on this here on the official boards.
Friday May 21, 2010
Phantasy Star Portable 2 — the eagerly anticipated follow-up to Phantasy Star Portable — has now been announced for the Playstation Portable, and will be coming to North America and Europe in the Fall of 2010!
Taking place three years after the end of the story missions that occur during Phantasy Star Universe, the denizens of the Gurhal System have dispatched the menace of the SEED — but the war effort has cost them, and with dwindling resources the game’s heroes will travel & take on entirely new challenges.
The game allows up to four players to connect online via Ad-Hoc and Infrastructure modes, allowing people to play with their friends wherever they are. Fans of old school Phantasy Star can also rejoice — the game features the return of Battle and Challenge missions, adapted from the original Phantasy Star Online. These multiplayer options combine with an epic single player experience and story missions which allow for extensive and advanced character customization and exploration.
In the true spirit of Phantasy Star, there really is a whole universe of things to explore: Phantasy Star Portable 2 features double the amount of content from previous games, with all new characters (and some returning favorites), over 100 missions, more than 170 enemies and all-new bosses, and more than 2,000 weapons and items. Combat has been enhanced as well, with familiar action-style combat of the Phantasy Star series augmented with all new features and abilities.
Stay tuned for more news — and look forward to Phantasy Star Portable 2 in Fall of 2010!
Monday Aug 03, 2009
There are some games in SEGA’s history that resonate with the feel of what SEGA was in the early 90’s – and, as we’ve seen recently, still holds onto in some ways today. What started with great RPG’s like the original Phantasy Star and Shining Force only continued through the years (and hardware changes) – leading into games like the much-loved Skies of Arcadia and the recent, critically acclaimed Valkyria Chronicles.
Today, we’d like to get your thoughts. SEGA is potentially going to be grouping together fans of our JRPG’s (like the games listed above), and we’d like to give said group a bit of identity. What’s in a name? Well – just about everything!
If you had to pick something fairly short and sweet to speak to what SEGA’s best RPG’s are all about, what would it be? Right now, we’d like to get feedback on this name:
Does the term “Heroes” fit the bill and speak to all of our best Japanese RPG’s? We’re looking for a name that is short and sweet, general enough that it can apply to all our RPG’s, and still sounds about as awesome as a plate of hotcakes in the morning.
So, what do you guys think? Drop us your comments here – let us know first what you think of SEGA Heroes, and afterwards feel free to swing by your own thoughts on potential names. Please make sure to get all your comments in by this Wednesday, so post away!
Update 8/7/09: Feedback has been collected and sent on! Thanks very much for all the responses everyone!
Tuesday May 05, 2009
The voting has begun! The 27th Annual Golden Joystick Awards are here, and SEGA has a strong presence in just about every category out there.
To vote, just click here, pick your entries and submit! I voted earlier today – here’s what my list looked like:
Yeah, I voted for Valkyria in every category I could. (You should too. 8) ) MadWorld and Headstrong games (Who created Overkill) were also easy choices for me.
If everyone votes together, there’s a great chance that a number of SEGA hits could end up winning. Above all though, just vote for the ones you want and make sure to get your votes in, then spread the word – I’m looking at you, Valkyria Fans!
Finally, here’s the full list of SEGA games or entries:
MOBILE GAME OF THE YEAR
MULTIPLAYER GAME OF THE YEAR
THE ONE TO WATCH
ONLINE GAME OF THE YEAR
PC GAME OF THE YEAR
PLAYSTATION GAME OF THE YEAR
ULTIMATE GAME OF THE YEAR
Thursday Apr 09, 2009
I mentioned that we had some swag to give away and that we were going to have a Trivia contest… Since then, we’ve finalized our plans and dug deep into hidden rooms here at the SEGA office to find the coolest stuff possible.
Now, it’s time for all of you not attending this weekend to turn hedgehog blue with envy – and for all of you who are making the trip – or anyone on the fence – we’ve got 300+ good reasons to look forward to it.
It’s going to be a very cool weekend.
I want you to focus on breathing normally now. Deep breaths in and out – now pinch yourself once. You aren’t dreaming.
Sunday at 3 PM is our SEGA Trivia Contest at the SEGA Booth, and whichever one of you knows your SEGA stuff the best is going to be rewarded for it – and seriously so. The Grand Prize is a stack of TEN newly released SEGA games, AND the exclusive Sonic T-shirt we found the other week in the Box of Awesome. The winner gets everything you see here:
To the winner go the spoils… and a really cool T-shirt.
The games will be given out at specific times during the day, so feel free to visit our booth and ask when the next giveaway will be. Oh, and if you do something to really show off your SEGA love – like wearing a SEGA/Sonic shirt or cosplaying as a SEGA video game character, we’ll see to it you get rewarded for your efforts with some of the rare merch shown above. (JSRF Soundtracks, NiGHTS Pillowcases, etc) Special bonus points if you cosplay as anyone from Valkyria Chronicles, since our DLC is coming out next Thursday!
We hope all of you attending this weekend are as excited as we are – of course, you can also be the first to play Let’s Tap! and Bleach: Third Phantom before they come out later this year, but we imagine what you guys really want is the free stuff. 😉
We’ll see you there!
Wednesday Apr 08, 2009
This weekend is the yearly Cherry Blossom Festival here in San Francisco! The festival, which takes place in Japantown, is a great chance to immerse yourself in some modern and traditional Japanese culture, get some tasty authentic Japanese food, and take a look at all sorts of Japanese things – and SEGA video games from Japan are no exception!
Play unreleased SEGA Games!
We’re going to have a lot of playable demos at the show, including:
Especially notable on that list are Let’s Tap! and Bleach: Third Phantom, which I highlighted (for good reason) in bright cherry blossom pink. Both of these games have never been demonstrated to the public in the US before – so if you’re in the area, you have a chance to be one of the first in the country to check out these games in English!
Meet the SEGA Community Team!
Kellie, Clumsyorchid, and RubyEclipse from the SEGA Community team are also going to be there, so feel free to drop by and say hello to us! Kellie and Clumsy will be there early Saturday afternoon, and Ruby will be dropping by Sunday afternoon. Also feel free to work on your conversational Japanese with Clumsy, as he’s been learning recently. (We’re sure he’ll appreciate the extra practice!)
Compete in a special Community contest!
Drop by our booth on Sunday, April 11th, at 3 PM for the first-ever Cherry Blossom SEGA Trivia Contest! Ruby is going to be bringing along some special merchandise to give out to the hardcore fans who score the most points in this contest of both old and new SEGA knowledge and speed – be the first to shout out the right answer to the question he asks, and you’ll score a point. Get the most points and you’re going home with something to show for it!
Get free SEGA stuff!
Monday Apr 06, 2009
A nice start to the week – after last week’s spotlight on SEGA merch, this time we’ve partnered up with fansite PSO-World to give some out! If you’ve got a fun memory from a Phantasy Star game, now’s your chance to share – and win some goodies while you’re at it!
The contest will run until April 19th. Good luck all!
Thursday Mar 12, 2009
Different versions of Phantasy Star, dating back to the Master System and Genesis versions, have taken place in wildly different times and locations. Fans of continuity, however, should be pleased that the recently released Phantasy Star Portable takes place in the same timeline as Phantasy Star Universe. To that end, GMs for Phantasy Star Universe—namely myself and Ruby Eclipse—were able to put on an in-game event this past week with characters from Phantasy Star Portable showing up in SEGA’s own MMO.
Meet Helga (the sinister looking femme fatale on the left) and Vivienne (the innocent-looking robot with the bunny ears on the right).
Vivienne is a CAST (an android), a newly-minted member of the GUARDIANS defense force and one of the principle heroes of Phantasy Star Portable. Her personality plays a lot into the plot, as she is new to and doesn’t quite understand most human emotions, although she is programmed to. She’s a great character and very-well done in the Phantasy Star Portable storyline.
Helga is the villain of the story, and in the Phantasy Star Portable storyline, is first spotted causing trouble on the GUARDIANS colony–which is where she showed up this past Friday. She is clearly a troublemaker, and may have a much darker backstory than what’s been hinted at so far . . . much of the storyline following the two characters is a cat-and-mouse chase between Vivienne and Helga, and this inspired the event itself.
Ruby Eclipse and myself took turns piloting Vivienne and Helga in-game, and in what was essentially a hide-and-seek game spanning the three planets and many servers of Phantasy Star Universe, players helped (or in some cases, hindered) Vivienne in finding Helga. My editorial opinion is that this was a ton of fun to do, and we got a great collection of players–chaos reigned supreme at times, but this only seemed to add to the fun.
As you can see, huge masses of players followed Helga and Vivienne around in-game. The goal was to track Helga’s whereabouts and report her to Vivienne, who would then track Helga down. Much delightful chaos ensued: there were, at times, huge numbers of players involved—servers that were usually empty filled up almost instantly whenever one of our characters moved there, and when found, Helga was swarmed with true zealotry.
The event was fun in part because it invited mass participation: While it only took a few people to actually relay information to Vivienne as to where Helga was, finding Helga required hundreds of players streaming through every available server, planet, and lobby location.
Participants brought a lot of different play-styles to the event: Some people straight-up role-played the event, talking to Helga and Vivienne in-character and playing along with the storyline. Others were a bit more tongue in cheek (see the Thundercats reference above), while still others seemed to decide they would help Helga instead of Vivienne. The event took on a life of its own over the course of the day, and Helga began to take advantage of the nefarious assistance of the players.
A highlight of the day came on PC/PS2 servers, where players were particularly efficient in tracking down Helga. In this case, Helga–piloted by yours truly–ran to the Observation Deck on the GUARDIANS Colony and threatened to plant a bomb. Vivienne showed up, along with what appeared to be the entire PC/PS2 population (give or take a few dozen). A special phrase was then issued to all GUARDIANS who were online at the time–any character who said this phrase would win, as they had done at the end of each event throughout the day, an exclusive in-game item–and GUARDIANS were instructed to repeat the phrase until Helga was “forced” off the server (one of Helga’s few weaknesses, it seems, is massive spam). The resultant spam–just a glimpse of which you can see in the image to the right here–was epic. Imagine that phrase repeated by several hundred players crammed into a single lobby, nonstop, and you’ll have an idea.
All in all, it was an extremely fun day–certainly for the GMs to get to see so much unique player participation, and hopefully for the players who took part as well! The prizes were a nice element to be able to offer as well: anyone who typed “Phantasy Star Portable Day!” at any point during the day will be receiving a special in-game room item, and anyone who helped to complete the event and got the “special phrase” to say will be receiving the in-game weapon.
Thanks again to everyone who was able to participate–Helga has been spammed & hunted out of Phantasy Star Universe, but you can find both her and Vivienne in Phantasy Star Portable!
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.
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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