Wednesday Citrus and I received the most dangerous thing for us to get during University finals time. What I mean is Phantasy Star Zero. As big fans of Phantasy Star Online we knew that getting its successor in every way possible would result in our “Game Over.” I had planned to refrain from playing until I finished all my exams but it was less than 24 hours before I broke down and plunged in. Soon Citrus discovered and he started playing. Our housemate bought a copy as well and we got others interested further reinforcing our addiction. This is the best worst thing ever.
As someone painfully disappointed by Phantasy Star Universe I was really excited to hear that Phantasy Star Zero would bring the franchise back to the good old days of Phantasy Star Online. This time it doesn’t disappoint. A lot of the core mechanics that made PSO fun return in Zero including the 3 button action palette, 3 hit combo, android traps, photon blasts, and mags to name a few. Of course the game is not completely the same and has been improved for a better and more streamlined experience. The HUmarl and HUnewm have been added as playable classes rounding out all the possible types of characters aside from the ranger newman. Androids can now use healing traps giving them more options to restore HP. All characters can now strafe and roll though I don’t do the later since I fill my action pallet with techs instead.
PSZero borrows some concepts born during PSU but uses them in a much better way. Like partner machinery in PSU Mags can now consume just about any item and start off at level 0 making Mag training so much easier to customize plus you can actual equip them. TP has been replaced by Photon Points and Photon Arts have been brought back. PAs are used by charging normal attacks instead of instant action keeping them from being ridiculously spamable.
A personal favorite addition of mine in the inclusion of an achievement system. It seems all games these days have to include them but PSZero one ups virtually all of them by giving you rewards you can actually use in game rather then just useless points. By completing certain tasks the bank lady will give you rewards such as increasing your inventory from 40 open slots to eventually 80. By extension I also love how the game keeps track of a whole bunch of data from things such as the item database to how many times you killed each monster.
While on the subject of collecting one of the biggest changes that make multiplayer more fun involves how items are dropped. Instead of having a community drop the game generates items for each player to pick up. Enemies no longer drop items directly but instead go into a chest that appears after clearing a room. In essence greedy players can no longer loot from you and with a good party can make hunting for specific items a whole lot easier.
Of great personal importance to me is how the new game mechanics affect playing as a force. One of the dumbest things in PSU is that TP and techniques are linked to weapons which made playing a force unbearable. Thankfully Zero goes back to just setting your technique to your palette. Although the techniques have been changed the overall result is for the better. Instead of having to clutter the action pallet with multiple techs of the same element they can be charged into the upgraded forms. Zonde can be charged into a multi-hit Razonde and Anti can be charged to restore a teammate’s status or revive them for example. My only real complaint with the game is that I wish I could access more action icons via the touchscreen in the same way I’m used to using the function keys in Blue Burst.
When not attacking with techs I can easily switch to melee attack. Although in previous games physical damage with force weapons was determined by the attack stat Zero changes the dynamic by using the mental strength stat to determine damage. Although melee forces were doable before (I know since I could play a melee FOnewearl back in the day) the change makes them ridiculously versatile; I can do the almost the same damage with melee as with techs. Interestingly slicers were made force weapons so they raise mind instead of attack. Though they do not raise mind as much as rods or wands the sheer range and the multi-hit capabilities make them ridiculously good. I discovered this in hard mode when I realized I could barely hit anything with my Caduceus so I figured that I might as well attack from the back where missing doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll take a beating. It also makes bosses with multiple close hit boxes such as Reyburn a lot easier.
Speaking of bosses Sega really ramped up the difficulty on PSZero. I remember being able to use my FOnewearl to take out all the Ultimate-level bosses at low levels with relative ease with the exception of Episode IV’s Shambertin (Point of Disaster). In PSU it was so easy to just spam photon arts and kill bosses without breaking a sweat. Now in PSZero all the new bosses have tons of HP and devastating attacks; Bosses are just plain intense. I can attest to running around reviving and healing everyone during a coop battle against the final boss. Although its frustrating at times it also means boss fights don’t get boring.
As I alluded to and should have mentioned earlier I ended up making a FOnewearl as my main character as I have done in every iteration of PSO I’ve ever played. My plan is to use only mind materials and to make a pure mind mag to make Yuka (that’s her name) an insane nuking machine (max stats have been removed by the way). I may also make a hit/mind hybrid mag if I think I need more accuracy for my slicers later on. Right now I’m hoping to find a Femini Soul to make a Femini Mag and a some rare slicers especially the fan-shaped ones in order to create the ultimate girly avatar. If you want to play with me you can use the friend code [2794 1134 7916] to find me online. By the way Yuka looks like this (just imagine her with light green hair and purple clothing):
I’ll eventually get around to drawing a group image with all my teammates but right now that’s kind of hard without reference pictures plus there’s the possibility of adding 4 more party members. (I’m obligated to draw our team since for the time being we are all girls). I need to get back to studying for 2 more exams anyway. (Will add Citrus’s friend code later)