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DS  header logo

Phantasy Star Zero

For: DS

Let me be your phantasy

Product: Phantasy Star Zero | Publisher: Sega | Format: DS | Genre: Action, Multiplayer, RPG | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Phantasy Star Zero DS, thumbnail 1
The name Phantasy Star will mean different things to different gamers.

If you’re of the 16-bit generation then chances are you’ll vividly recall the epic turn-based instalments which went incredibly close to challenging Square’s Final Fantasy franchise in terms of engrossing storytelling and impossibly deep gameplay.

However, those gamers who happened to cut their teeth on more recent consoles - such as Sega’s Dreamcast - will associate this legendary moniker with multiplayer online dungeon-crawling, thanks largely to 2001’s cult classic Phantasy Star Online.

Out with the old

To the possible disappointment of the former camp, Phantasy Star Zero is very much a scaled-down interpretation of the original Dreamcast outing.

While a single-player element is present, and it’s quite possible to play through the entire quest without securing the assistance of friends or fellow carbon-based life forms, to approach the game like that would do it a gross injustice.

In fact, going solo isn’t at all advisable. The AI of your companions is incredibly dense to say the least and your missions end up being less about finding valuable loot than about babysitting your inept team to ensure they don’t get themselves needlessly vapourised by the myriad hostile elements that populate the game’s vibrant worlds.

Indeed, Phantasy Star Zero is all about social gaming: the core gameplay is actually rather mundane, thanks largely to the randomly-generated environments (which happen to feel a little aimless at times) and the constant repetition of combat, exploration, and stat-grinding.

Social networking

What makes all of these niggles seem less significant is the fact that you’re experiencing the adventure alongside friends, and this element goes a long way towards enriching the package.

Uncovering an especially rare weapon might give you a slight tinge of satisfaction when you’re playing alone but when you have three other people to boast to, you enter a whole new dimension of smug contentment.

Sadly, you have to jump through some bothersome hoops to get fellow adventurers involved. Nintendo’s incredibly restrictive Friends Code system makes it as difficult as possible to link up with mates and while this is obviously out of Sega’s hands, it does impact the smoothness of the online experience.

Zero to hero?

Phantasy Star Zero is saddled with other issues, too. While nobody is reasonably expecting the DS to pump out HD-quality graphics, the often muddy and ill-defined visuals on display here are quite disappointing - especially when you consider that we were offered better way back in 2001, when the first PSO instalment hit store shelves.

Despite these tribulations, Phantasy Star Zero still manages to supply many hours of entertainment providing you can get enough friends involved to make it worthwhile.

We sincerely hope that Sega returns to the old skool RPG episodes that mercilessly sucked up so much of our youth, but in the meantime DS owners yearning for an online challenge to rival Capcom’s insanely popular Monster Hunter could certainly do a lot worse than pick this up.
Phantasy Star Zero
Reviewer photo
Damien McFerran | 17 February 2010
While the presentation is somewhat outdated and the single-player element is weak, Phantasy Star Zero nevertheless manages to distinguish itself with some incredibly entertaining multiplayer action
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