Sega/Shin Force 
| Sega Dreamcast Review

Sega/Shin Force > Games > Dreamcast > Reviews N-Z

Shin Force ~ Phantasy Star ~
 Phantasy Star Online

Sonic Team
Dec. 21, 2000 (Japan)
Jan. 30, 2001 (USA)
3rd Person
1; 1~4 online
Backup 15+30
     > I got this game just in time, as Grandia II has been completed.  Phantasy Star Online (PSO) is essentially a side story to the epic series of RPGs spanning the Master System and Genesis years.  Although it takes place within the Phantasy Star realm, an entirely new planet is the focus of the story line.  It appears the mothership "Pioneer 1" has crashed into this planet and your main objective is to find out why.  You'll take on side quests and fight in real-time throughout your journey too.

     > By the way, don't bother importing this game, unless you don't mind playing offline.  Playing the import version online is quite difficult.  However, the Japanese version has an option to select various languages, including English!!  That's the reason for the 50% importability (online=hard to set up; offline=playable).  If you want to read up on connecting with the Japanese version, I suggest you visit  Don't worry though, the American release is expected in early 2001...

     > Just as promised.  Silky smooth animation, very detailed 3D realms, and excellent sight distance combine to flex even more Dreamcast muscle than you've seen before.  Every locale is plush with activity too.  For instance, the "Forest" has flying butterflies, rippling pools, and light-emitting plants.  Top that off with varied weather effects and animated skies!

     > Sonic Team definitely knows how to use special effects, especially in a subtle manner.  At the spaceport, random ships fly around like a real living city.  Technique spells are laden with lighting and explosive effects.  Shadows are realistically cast everywhere.  The sun even peaks through branches and makes an impressive lens flare.  Explosions?  You know they're sweet.

     > The last graphics feature I'm going to discuss is the view.  It's a floating third person above and behind view.  For the most part, it works perfectly.  Through no fault of Sonic Team, a party member may occasionally obscure the view of your character.  I say no fault, as this goes with the territory in a 3D realm combined with a third person view.

     > There is a lot to do.  Thanks to Sonic Team's wonderful menu system, it's all easily accomplished.  Talking and entering transactions are straight forward.  You can select a side quest (which earns money), then transport down to the planet surface to attempt it.  Occasionally, a computer controlled character will join you, in order to help complete the task at hand.  The map system works well, and you'll notice an increasing complexity in them as you advance.  You'll run into locked and unlocked doors, some people, lots of treasure boxes, and tons of enemies.  Fighting is real time, and the battle doesn't stop when you pause either!  You have up to six readily useable attacks/Techniques at once.  Three for the X, A, and B buttons, and three more while holding the R Trigger (with the X, A, and B buttons).  You'll gain precious experience after each battle.  Sometimes a dead foe leaves treasure behind.  Other times killing enough enemies may open a locked door.  You always have to keep an eye on the map, because enemies may come out of hiding!  Boss monsters show up too, of course, and you'll need all your skill to defeat them.  Lastly, you have what's called a "Mag".  It's basically a helper, which increases your stats.  All you have to do is feed it certain items (like Monomate), and it will noticeably help.
     > Totally soothing.  PSO's music is just what the doctor ordered, and is reminiscent of prior Phantasy Star games.  The seamless transition among songs (like exploration to battle music) is cool too.  Sonic Team scores big on the sound effects as well.  Monsters roar convincingly, water trickles quickly, light sabers whoosh powerfully, birds chirp happily, and lots more...  Even the environmental effects are second to none.
     > I'm sure playing online will be better than offline.  That being said, the offline gameplay is interesting, action packed, and fun nonetheless.  The side quests are varied and increasingly challenging.  I really like the attack system, which allows for six different attacks/Techniques.  It really helps in real time battles to be able to perform a healing Technique!  Don't forget that all your offline stats and items can be transferred to an online game!
     > In a word, unbelievable!  This is easily my favorite online game so far, especially since sports games aren't my forte.  Playing online is sweet, as long as your internet connection is decent.  I've experienced many hours of lag-free gaming even without having SegaNet.  The fact that you can play with people worldwide only adds to your enjoyment!

     > There are lots of things to occupy your time online with PSO.  You start off by picking a server and transporting to a waiting room, usually full of other gamers waiting to create/join an adventure.  Once you've created/joined an adventure, you transport to Pioneer 2, where you can access your money and items, go shopping, heal, and make plans.  From there on, it's on to face high adventure in the Phantasy Star Realm, gain experience, raise levels, find items, and (of course) kill lots of nasty monsters!  It's a good thing you can take along up to three players, as the tasks at hand are not easy.  There's nothing like getting killed and having a comrade revive you to develop a cooperative spirit.

     > I actually recommend playing offline to build your character up, acquire weapons/items, and earn money.  Next, go online and share or trade items you don't need.  With the help of other gamers, your level will rise fast, as will your appreciation for Sega's ability to make games -- "for inferior consoles!?"

     > Get the import version only if you want to hone your skills.  English is selectable, but playing online is quite difficult.  In addition, the save file from the Japanese version is not interchangeable with the American version.  In my esteemed opinion, this is the best online game for Dreamcast.  I recommend the purchase of your country's version of this game upon first sight!!!
OFFLINE | Overall: 9.6 | Graphics: 9.9 | Control: 9.5 | Sound: 9.5 | Fun: 9.5
ONLINE | Overall: 9.9 | Graphics: 9.9 | Control: 10 | Sound: 9.5 | Fun: 10
~ Necromancer ~

[ PIX >> ][ PREVIEW >> ]
[ << BACK ][ TOP /\ ][ FORWARD >> ]