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Phantasy Star Online: Episode I & II :: Preview
Sonic Team
1x GCD
Sep. 12, 2002
Oct. 29, 2002 
Mar. 7, 2003
3rd Person
Broadband Adapter
Modem Adapter
     > The original Phantasy Star Online (PSO) set the standard for online capable console games, when it graced Dreamcast owners in December 2000.  After signing on with Nintendo to develop/publish games for GameCube (GC), Sega quickly announced that PSO would be coming to the big N's latest console.  At first it was reported that the GC would receive a direct port of Phantasy Star Online Ver.2 (PSOv.2).  The latest report indicates that it will definitely be called Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II (PSOeI&II).

     > As you know, the GC is not internet ready like the Dreamcast.  Therefore, the first question is, what will Nintendo sell to make the GC online capable?  The answer is two adapters -- a dial-up Modem Adapter and a Broadband Adapter.  They are to be released in America this fall for an affordable price of $34.99 each.  The next question is, what will it cost you for a Hunter's License, which is what you need to connect to Sega's servers?  Assuming Sega continues along the same route as PSOv.2, you can expect to pay around $3/month to play PSOeI&II.  Also, will there be a keyboard?  Yes, and in Japan, it's coming from ASCII (no price yet; probably $20).  Lastly, aside from the above expenses, your ISP fees, and possible calling charges, will there be any hidden costs?  According to Nintendo, they will allow royalty-free network games to be released by third party publishers.  I would assume that gives you enough information to calculate your cost to play PSOeI&II.

     > I'm sure many people want to know if you can successfully import this game and go online with it.  No firm word on whether or not this will be feasible, but I would guess it will be just as complicated as doing it for Dreamcast.  It may be, however, that current Dricas members will have an easier time.

     > PSOeI&II contains two games: Episode I is reportedly a port of PSOv.2, while Episode II ostensibly contains the new features of this game.  So what will be new in Sonic's latest ubergame?  For one thing, three new character types will be included: HUcaseal (Hunter Android Woman), RAmarl (Ranger Human Woman), and FOmar (Force Human Man).  One of the new locales will be a Jungle area, which will feature wetlands, lots of foliage, and a seashore.  Plenty of new enemies and bosses are planned as well.  One new boss (pictured below) is a huge griffin, which wields tornado and sonic boom attacks!  Some new enemies are Native flying insects (with paralysis needle attacks), Native gibbons (which attack in groups), A.Beast walking flowers, and a Machine stealth robot.  That's about all I know for now, but I'll update this preview as necessary.

First Impression
     > This will most likely be the first online capable game for GameCube, so I'm sure Sonic Team will work hard to create a benchmark game.  They will have more than one year's time between the Japanese release of PSOv.2 and PSOeI&II.  I'm assuming that's enough time to add a lot of new locales, activities, weapons, quests, etc.
Overall: 10
~ Shinobi ~
Character Creation | Jungle: Seashore
Griffin boss | 4 Player Split-screen
Native flying insects | Native gibbons
Jungle area | Machine stealth robot
Griffin boss | FOmar
HUcaseal | RAmarl
pictures courtesy: Sonic Team
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