Phantasy Star Portable PSP
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Phantasy Star Portable Product Details
Released on 17/04/2009
Featuring over 150 new weapons and items exclusive to the PSP version, Phantasy Star Portable takes place just after the events of Phantasy Star Universe. Players will partner up with Vivienne, a brand new character to the series, to investigate an outbreak of wild animals that may possess the remnants of a once-powerful malevolent force. Selecting from three class types and four different races, players will be immersed in the intriguing single-player Story Mode and addictive Phantasy Star Universe co-op gameplay. Teaming with up to three others, players will experience new adventures via the PSP wireless connection. Exclusive new missions and hardcore features, including Item and Enemy Book records and Titles are unlocked by achieving difficult goals; this will add tremendous replay value to Phantasy Star Portable making it the most addicting action-RPG on the PSP system.
Phantasy Star Portable on PSP Features:
- Longtime fans and new players to the series will enjoy the original content from Phantasy Star Universe and Phantasy Star Universe: Ambition of the Illuminus.
- Phantasy Star Portable players will experience a whole new storyline and meet new characters, while the new record book feature keeps track of over 150 new collectable items
- Players can create their own avatar with the rich Character Creation system, or port in their character from the Phantasy Star Portable downloadable demo.
- Up to four party members can team up via Sony wireless.
- The first Phantasy Star experience that offers a different ending depending on the player’s actions
2001's Phantasy Star Online for Dreamcast was nothing short of a sensation, bringing multiplayer online role-playing to home consoles at a time when Xbox Live was just a twinkle in Bill Gates' eye. The 2006 sequel, Phantasy Star Universe, should have continued the revolution, but by that time World of Warcraft had already taken a stranglehold on the genre. As a result, Sega's sci-fi hack-and-slash MMO made only a small splash with the mainstream market, gathering a minor, dedicated following who paid a monthly subscription to play online on PC, PS2 and Xbox 360.
We can do miracles...
Three years on and Phantasy Star Universe has hit PSP in the form of Phantasy Star Portable, lacking one key element that PSO, and to a lesser extent home versions of PSU, built their legacy upon – online play.
Phantasy Star Portable comes highly recommended to anyone who enjoys a bit of old-skool dungeon-crawling hack-n-slash action.
If that decision seems a bit baffling, then you have to consider the context. Phantasy Star Portable has been designed first and foremost for the Japanese market, where handheld gamers regularly get together in person for hours-long gaming sessions. UK gaming culture isn't anything like as social, so most British PSP owners will be limited to experiencing Phantasy Star Portable's team-focused questing with only the computer A.I. for company.
That's a real shame, because your computer-controlled partners in Phantasy Star Portable are dumb. Really dumb. Rare are the times when they'll heal themselves or you when in urgent need, and to make matters worse they seem to have an unhealthy habit of standing right next to the enemies which explode upon dying. Not so great.
They're also a bit annoying personality-wise, too. Phantasy Star Universe is presented like a kid's anime cartoon, with a cast that enjoys nothing more than stating the obvious, saying things like "it would be nice if it were easier to win" and "I will do my best." It's clearly not aimed at mature gamers, and to be honest anyone older than twelve or thirteen will probably find all the wide-eyed, naive Japanime cuteness a little bit grating.
...So take my hand...
So, just to recap, that's no online play, nigh-on idiotic partner A.I. and childish presentation. And yet, if you can put up with or look past all of that, Phantasy Star Portable still comes highly recommended to anyone who enjoys a bit of old-skool dungeon-crawling hack-n-slash action.
After creating your character from a wealth of options and starting up the singleplayer story, Phantasy Star Portable soon has you roaming around the corridors of the Guardians Colony space station, slicing and shooting up monsters, hacking open crates, and scurrying around collecting as much loot as possible – and that's pretty much the focus of gameplay in Phantasy Star Portable. The more you kill, the stronger you get and the more you collect. The more you collect, the more you can modify your character with more powerful weapons, better armour, cooler clothes and further techniques, spells and healing items. The more you do all of that, the more exotic environments you get to explore and the more new missions become available within them.
The more you kill, the stronger you get and the more you collect. The more you collect, the more you modify your character with weapons, armour and cooler clothes.
These three pillars of level grinding, item management and fresh scenery are something PSO did remarkably well all those years ago, and even without the fourth pillar – teamwork with real people – it's still a strong enough combination to make Phantasy Star Portable an enticing, addictive on-the-go role-playing experience.
If you are lucky enough to know between one and three PSP-owning PSU fans, though, then Multi Mode is where it's at. Here, you can play missions at your leisure, and if you can handle the lag, there's endless hours of fun to be had, just the way Phantasy Star Portable was meant to be played.
...We need to save this world!
There have been a few corners cut in order to get Phantasy Star Portable running smoothly on the PSP. There are no real cutscenes, for instance – most story elements are handled with 2D character artwork, speech bubbles and lots of high-pitched recorded speech. The full 3D hub of home system PSU is also missing, with that now reduced to a top-down map screen and menus. It works for the handheld format though, sacrificing a small degree of immersion to ensure a faster transition between mission selection, storytelling, and the all-important action of actually playing the game.
It's no small-screen sensation, then, but Phantasy Star Portable still has a lot to offer fans of the genre. The lack of online play is disappointing, and the kid's cartoon-style presentation is something you'll either find charming or put up with, but PSU on PSP remains a colourful and addictive dungeon-crawler with few real peers in the handheld market.
- PSU's addictive interplay of level grinding, finding new loot and exploring fresh scenery remains intact.
- Full of fast-paced hack and slash combat.
- Younger gamers will probably love the kid's cartoon-style presentation. Oh, and the orchestral score is still magnificent.
- No online play - multiplayer is local wireless only.
- Idiotic partner A.I.
- More mature gamers will probably find the childlike characters and story a little bit grating.
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