Are you a fan of Phantasy Star? Maybe you played on the Dreamcast. Maybe you bought the Gamecube keyboard controller just to play it on that system. Maybe you tried out the PC version. Maybe you got into Phantasy Star Universe.
Maybe you even played Episode III: C.A.R.D. Revolution.
Ok, so I fall into most of those. If you’re a huge PSO fan like me, perhaps you knew that the open beta for the Japanese version of PSO2 is going on right now? And it’s free?! NO?! Well now you do.
While there is no announcement for an English release of PSO2 (at least, not yet; rumors abound due to Sega’s recent postings on the official Phantasy Star Twitter account), you can still download and login and play for free! Just be prepared to slog through quite a bit of Japanese text along the way.
If you’re willing to pay that price, however, you can head on over to pso2blog.wordpress.com and follow the instructions on how to get access. They also have a manual to help you through a lot of the menus and concepts, many of which are new to PSO. Bumped.org also has a healthy amount of guides and walkthroughs to help fill in the gaps, and both sites have been invaluable in my endeavors thus far.
As for my own experience with the game, I have had very little opportunity to play through with a party, but the overall experience is nothing short of amazing, the definitive Phantasy Star experience to date. Combat is fast and offers options Phantasy Star players would never have DREAMED of before. Not only do you have the standard attack and Photon Art abilities from previous games, but you also have the ability to block, dash-evade, and even jump. All of these maneuvers become important in your planning and defending, and new weapon types help to throw more randomness into the mix. Seven levels in, it is all of the goodness of previous Phantasy Star games, with a lot of the bad points surgically removed, then what is left is condensed and built upon, onward and upward.
The majority of the english-speaking players are on Ships 2 and 10, but unfortunately you cannot move your characters between ships. You’ll find me on Ship 9; shoot me a tweet at @therealqgamer if you want to group up and take down some Rappies!