> We're just one week away from December 21, which will mark the 15th Anniversary
of when Sega released Phantasy Star Online for the Dreamcast in Japan.
I've been reminiscing the days of "gaming in the realm", as I've often
referred to my PSO career. Then I remembered, I actually wrote multiple
editorials about my experiences in the early years. I thought it
would be nice to compile everything throughout this week and put up a memorial
to my favorite game of all time.
> At the time I wrote them, I was thinking of the future when it might
be difficult to remember some of the details of this wonderful experience.
I was definitely right. Reading through these has brought it all
back into focus, and I thought it might help other PSO players to appreciate
their good times, too. If you're a PSO fan or one of the people I
gamed with, feel free to contact me on the Sega/Shin Force Facebook
> Anyway, 15 years ago, the world of Sega was seemingly on the rise.
I was all over getting the Japanese version of Phantasy Star Online, as
it was just too long to wait until the end of January for the American
release. After all, this was to be the first console MMORPG, and
it was a Phantasy Star sequel! I recall owning it within a day or
two of its actual debut.
> All the magazines of the time were hyping it up, and had huge feature
articles to get everyone up to speed. One magazine even had an entire
article for online etiquette, which was surely needed. Most console
gamers never played a game online, much less one with potentially thousands
of people (myself included). The closest I ever came to online gaming
was a local network of PC's to play a flight simulator.
> Dare I remind you most people were still connecting to the internet via
dial-up ISP! Wow, I'm glad that is history. Not only because
it was slow, but it had negative affects on PSO gaming. Lag wasn't
too bad most of the time, but when it hit, you knew it. Let's not
forget if you lost the connection, you tended to lose items that were in
your inventory -- extremely frustrating! The original PSO's drop
rate for rares was so low, it made replacing items lost to internet service
issues or hacking very difficult.
> Thank God, Sega released a broadband adapter, and most PSO players immediately
upgraded. That wasn't the only thing Sega improved, as they were
busy working on Version 2 right away. Sega/Sonic Team had it out
(in Japan) by June 6, 2001 -- less than six months after the initial PSO
release. The North American release of PSOv2 was shortly after that
on September 21, 2001.
> Phantasy Star Online Ver.2 (which is also referred to as Episode 1) featured
new weapons, better drop rates, Ultimate difficulty, new enemies, new scenery,
Challenge Mode and Battle Mode. Online action/RPG heaven was in the
hands of most Dreamcast players by the end of 2001. It's too bad
Sega gave up on the Dreamcast.
> Since then, Sega has released many new Phantasy Star games for every
system you could imagine. Phantasy Star Online 2 (with multiple Episodes
now) being the most recent, is only available in Japan and southeast Asia
(at this time). If Sega never brings PSO2 to the USA, it will just
be a shame that so many people will miss out of the current action/RPG