Sunday, March 11, 2012
More Phantasy Star Surprises, Eh?
So, the other day I posted that happy fun-time post about quite awesome news and one of them was about the version of Phantasy Star Online 2 being developed for the Vita, to which Satoshi Sakai promised there would be more Phantasy Star-related surprises to come this month. Now, we can be coy and wonder if this means they're going to reboot the actual, mainline Phantasy Star numbered series or do remakes of the games or whatever and it would surely be interesting as hell for a couple paragraphs, or we could be honest with ourselves and say that he means something in the vein of Phantasy Star Portable. The last four things to come out of Phantasy Star, (Online not counting) to my knowledge have been Phantasy Star Portable 1, 2, and Infinity and Phantasy Star Zero, the rather poor attempt at a Phantasy Star Online-type game on the Nintendo DS. At least, that's what I can remember, but if I'm wrong, I'm not too far off from the truth regardless.
Now, let's just assume a few things here so we can go on and talk about this stuff in a way that is at least somewhat, partially, meaningful. Let's assume that the game that is a surprise is going to continue this trend and be a Phantasy Star Portable-type game for the Vita since that all makes a lot of sense. Let's assume it will be called "Phantasy Star Victory" as said rumored game has been nicknamed since the Vita was an official thing. And let's assume that it's going to come out in America because, I mean, yes it's Sega, but they gave us Phantasy Star Portable 2 despite the state of the PSP at the time. I get why they didn't release Infinity, even though I don't like that they didn't, because it was basically just a really really expanded version of PSP2 which didn't sell gangbusters itself. Besides, the climate is pretty different with the Vita and companies know that they have to, you know, -try- at the start to make something happen.
So, naturally we want to start here with what worked in Phantasy Star Portable 2 because it's pretty much going to follow that formula to a T. And short of saying, "Everything", I'll try to be more specific since, while being a fantastic game, only most of it really worked well. First off, having an actual hub world to traverse was -wonderful- and I'd love to see that return. I would bet money that it's going to, as well, so I'll throw in the additional qualifier by saying that I hope it's going to be bigger. Because while the Hub world was fantastic, it was a bit cramped, featuring only the middle area with the transport to the ship, the 'office', two shops the cafeteria and the gateway to your room (or your friends room if you were playing MP). There's plenty more that can be added there, especially with the beefed up power of the Vita, so I would like that. If it's at least Phantasy Star Online 1 big, that'll be an improvement, albeit a minor one, since you could actually, technically lose someone there for all of a minute.
Second off, the combat and, basically, the whole user interface was pretty slick. Moves were fairly faithful to the way it worked in PSO, but they weren't so wooden and the combo system added a satisfying amount of depth. If it would take a page from PSO2's book and make the shooting more Third-Person feeling, it would be quite excellent since aiming in first person mode was pretty clunky. Naturally, I'd like to see more weapon types since I -always- like new weapon types, but I don't know if that's going to happen. But some more movesets for the polearm weapons would be pretty nice to add in since they were one of my least liked ones. I just didn't think they were very dangerous, considering how powerful polearm weapons can be. But if the combat was exactly the same in Victory as it was in Portable 2, I wouldn't mind it in the least.
The online portion was pretty fantastic as well, simply by being exactly what you wanted it to be. While missions generally could've been longer or had more variety in them, the lag was fairly negligible on my part (even with my poor internet) and everyone got their own loot rather than having to fight over the red boxes or have an uncomfortable feeling about picking one up without sharing that it was there since it very well could have not been there for the others. It was your red box, your rare, and it was all the sweeter for that. With the Vita having Mic support naturally, and with Party, communication is nothing of a problem either, not like it really was initially. Beyond that, I really don't know what could be tweaked about it to make it 'better', since it was pretty fantastic on its own merits.
So really, this has been less about me saying what I expect from Phantasy Star Victory (as I don't know -what- to expect, honestly) and more saying Phantasy Star Portable 2 was fantastic. Which....I will suggest has been a good use of time regardless. Now if only Sega will get it working on the Vita again, I'll be able to friggin' enjoy it again instead of having a digital copy of it that is completely useless, what with my busted PSP and my Vita that won't play it because emulation issues. We'll just have to see how it unfolds. But I will be really, really surprised if this is the not the thing or one of the things that is announced this month as part of the additional surprises.