- Original release year: 2000
- Consoles: Dreamcast (later: XBox, GameCube)
I’m probably not the best to review this game. In fact, I’m definitely not the best person to review this game. Just like admitting you’re still a virgin, or admitting you’ve never seen the original Star Wars trilogy (or worse, admitting you actually like the prequel trilogy *shudder*), I’m afraid I have to offer a similar, candid confession. I have never played Phantasy Star Online, online. There, I said. I know, as a huge Dreamcast fanboy who owned a Dreamcast since shortly after its launch, you’d think I would have played one of the console’s best games, a game years ahead of its time, the way in which it was intended to be played, but alas, I was 12 years old when this game came out and unfortunately, the internet bill was down to my parents. As Sega forced subscribers in the UK to use BT, an internet provider my parents were not with, it meant that unfortunately I would not be so lucky as to play the first MMORPG to grace a console.
With that out of the way though, I have to say that although I only experienced the offline portion myself, it is still a great game and I know full well what an ambitious game it was.
If you need proof that Sega was ahead of its time with the Dreamcast, then look no further than this title. It was several years after the Dreamcast’s death before online gaming on consoles took off and it really took Microsoft with Xbox Live to popularise it and make it a mainstream success. Although Phantasy Star Online was not the first online title on a console, or even on the Dreamcast, it was the most ambitious to date and the first of its kind to really work. Sega knew online gaming was the future and they supported it fully throughout the Dreamcast’s life cycle (although European gamers did get screwed over, a little, with our slower modems and online modes being removed from many popular games).
Phantasy Star Online took the popular RPG series Sega was known for during the days of the Master System and Mega Drive/Genesis and turned it into a MMORPG that allowed players to work in teams of 4 and embark on tasks and missions together. Unlike the original Phantasy Star games though, combat in PSO was in real time (as you’d expect from an MMORPG). The great thing about it, was the built in multilingual dictionary that would translate messages for the user’s native language.
There have been numerous different versions and variations of Phantasy Star Online since the original, but even today, many fans still play the Dreamcast version together online via private servers.