TGS 2001 Fall: Hands-on: Phantasy Star Online GameCube
Sega's online RPG gains a new stage on the GameCube.
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Sonic Team's online RPG Phantasy Star Online was playable in Sega's booth at TGS, giving players a look at a new area in the GameCube version of the game. Set in a swampy area complete with new enemies, a new look for area gates, and a new boss, the new level helped distinguish PSO for the GC as more than just a port of the Dreamcast game.
The new area was reminiscent in layout of the very first forest area in the original game, featuring narrow twisting paths broken up by large areas chock-full of enemies. We encountered three new enemies in our travels: plantlike creatures that got up and attacked; large, skinny, monkeylike creatures that were gray; and cloaking robots that had a Predator-like reflective sheen to them as they disappeared during combat. Waterfalls and wide-open vistas from the path we walked on gave the game a much more organic feel. Gates in the new area looked like small waterfalls that changed color and allowed you to pass after all the enemies in a room were destroyed. The graphics for the new area offered lush greens with shimmering puddles of water and nice use of lighting.
The boss fight in the level found us duking it out against a new boss, whose roughly translated name was Gar-griffon, in an open space framed by waterfalls. The boss looked like a cross between a dragon and a griffon and put up a rough fight against our party. Its attacks included mini-tornados and hovering above the ground (just out of lock-on range) while firing projectiles. The boss battle had both of the requisite elements for a solid PSO experience: cinematic camera angles and the boss' obsession to destroy you and your party. Our team of four died fairly often during the fight but managed to get a feel for controlling the game on the GC. To facilitate typing on the GameCube version of the game, ASCII will release a keyboard controller for the GC that roughy looks like a standard GameCube controller that has been stretched out about a foot or so to make room for a nearly full-sized keyboard in the middle. As
Phantasy Star Online is currently slated to hit Japan in March of 2002.