I've been completely obsessed with Splatoon 2 lately. But I figured I should juggle it with something else. Something less competitive. Something slower. And so I arrived at Phantasy Star 0, which I picked up used for a decent price a while back.
I should say that I'm a pretty big Phantasy Star fan. Or is it phan? Anyway, I've always had a fondness for the series since playing the original game when it was ported to the GBA. After that I kind of fell in love with the Phantasy Star world. These were games that were never as popular as Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, but they did hugely interesting things. And I also loved the sci-fi setting.
I finally got around to playing Phantasy Star Online back in 2012 or so, and again, just fell in love with that game. It was KIND OF like an MMO, except it wasn't massive. It used the sci-fi world of Phantasy Star to give you a cool dungeon crawler action RPG thing. It's kind of hard to explain, but the gameplay loop just sucked me in. I played PSO many times since, both online and off. And I'd rank PSO very high within my top Gamecube games of all time. So the promise of getting a PSO-like experience "on the go" sounded awesome to me.
I should point out that I actually made a Japanese account on my Switch back in 2017 just so I could TRY to play PSO2 which was never brought over to the US. But alas, those Japanese servers just wouldn't hold up for a long distance connection, and so I could never get the game to work. Ugh.
So here we are, playing Phantasy Star 0, which is sort of a sequel to Phantasy Star Online. Sort of. But not really. Sure it has that similar dungeon crawl loop and all, but something just feels off.
For one thing the DS screen resolution is rough. I mean I'm playing on a New 2DS XL, but still, everything is zoomed in so tight, it's often hard to see what the heck is going on. You'll have a swarm of enemies but you're always struggling to get the camera to even fit them on the screen with you. I also hate to complain about the story, but to be honest PSO worked amazingly well with a minimal story. It almost felt arcade-like at times. This... this game just forces you into a linear JRPG trope fest. I don't know. It feels unnecessary.
The truth is this, Phantasy Star 0 is fine on its own merits. But it's not really the game I want it to be. Maybe if I approached it knowing what I know now, I could come back to it and like it later. But it's not what I signed up for, y'know? It's certainly not a replacement for PSO proper.
The other thing is this - in the years that we've been missing out on new Phantasy Star games in the west, we HAVE been getting Xenoblade games. And now, I might be more into that series. Lord knows that Xenoblade Chronicles X is to me the best Phantasy Star game not actually called Phantasy Star.