March 5, 2001
Phantasy Star Online - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Rating Players RRP
23/3/2001SegaSonic Team1-4 Online$99.95

Click To Enlarge ImageWhen it comes to RPG's (Role Playing Games) there can be no denying that Phantasy Star is one of the most loved series' ever. When the original game was released in 1987 it was hailed as one of the greatest games. Several sequels soon followed and it was only a matter of time before a Phantasy Star game was headed to Dreamcast. When it was announced that Sonic Team were developing the game the anticipation was through the roof. But the best was still to come. Phantasy Star Online includes online gameplay for up to 4 players simultaneously.

Click To Enlarge ImageOne of the biggest surprises with Phantasy Star Online is that the game is being developed by Sonic Team. This development team was responsible for Sonic Adventure as well as Chu Chu Rocket (an online puzzle game), Samba de Amigo (an arcade music game) and the recently announced Sonic Adventure 2. Just how this small team of developers can cope with several of the largest developments ever is hard to imagine, but one thing is sure, they almost guarantee the game will be great. As you can tell from the surrounding screenshots this game certainly isn't lacking in the visual department with some of the most gorgeous enemies ever seen in a video game. The only query was the companies ability to craft a large and involving storyline which is required for RPG's. Overseas reviews put an end to this fear with some extremely impressive reviews with the game rarely failing to achieve top marks.

Click To Enlarge ImageThe story line is as follows;
The Pioneer Project! A plan born of desperation, conceived in response to the imminent destruction of their home worlds. As plans for the evacuation began, unmanned probes were sent into deep space to find a habitable planet. When a potential site was discovered, the first interstellar transport ship, Pioneer 1 was sent to establish a colony. Pioneer 1 confirmed that the Planet Ragol was a suitable location, and the initial colonists started preparing the planet for the main wave of refugees, beginning with the construction of the Central Dome.
7 years later
Click To Enlarge ImagePioneer 2 completed its long voyage with the main wave of refugees aboard. But as Pioneer 2 entered orbit and opened a communications link with the Central Dome, an enormous explosion shook the entire planet.
All contact with the thousands of men and women of Pioneer 1 was lost.

While the exact nature of your task remains a mystery it is probable that you will have to discover what has happened to the people on the planet, why the explosion took place and who was behind it.

Click To Enlarge ImagePhantasy Star Online was released in Japan on December 21st and was followed by the release in America in early February due to extended testing. The Australian release is currently set for March 2001, which is great except for one minor problem. Ozisoft aren't guaranteeing the game will be playable online. Sure, it's possible to play the game with CPU controlled characters in your party, but online gaming is what Phantasy Star Online was made for. Still, if everything runs smoothly this could be the game that steals the limelight from the Playstation 2.