Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Depressing History Of Quitting Phantasy Star

There are a lot of reason I don't trust my friends and family, and one of them is my experiences with the online Phantasy Star games. Don't get me wrong, I love the games, and I don't necessarily hate my friends, but I often find that neither are particularly reliable. This story starts, of course, with Phantasy Star Online for the Dreamcast. Lots of people played I know played it, and it was the source of many good times. Interest waned a while and really dropped off with the release of Version 2, which required the monthly paid for Hunter's License in order to play online. This was the only time when I wasn't particularly bitter about parting ways with a Phantasy Star game.

When Sega started the beta for Phantasy Star Online: Blue Burst, enough time had passed that people who had sat out the various updates and ports of the game were feeling somewhat nostalgic for the days of killing the same monsters and getting cool rare items. Since it was an older game, nobody could complain their hardware wasn't up to the task. During the beta period, I had a bunch of real-life and online friends playing the game with me. On many occasions I had to choose from different rooms full of people I knew.


Then the beta ended. A bunch of my online friends could not continue playing because they were located in a bunch of different countries internationally and literally could not pay Sega to let them play. I don't really hold that against them because it is obviously not their fault. On the other hand, all of my real-life friends are pricks, because I was literally the only one that still played after the beta. I really resented my brother for not putting up that monthly fee because he was the person I played the game with the most. I played for quite a while after the beta ended and had fun playing with guild mates. Eventually, there were only a few people still playing, and due to conflicting timezones, I never had anyone to play with and quit. I went back briefly when the Episode IV content came out, but I ended up quitting again for the same reasons. I must have been serious this time, because I gave away my Mags.

When Phantasy Star Universe came out, I actually convinced a few real-life friends to pay to play. My brother said he would play online with us once he finished the single player story, but by the time he finished it we had basically stopped playing because, at launch, PSU was a horribly incomplete game. There just wasn't much to do. I renewed my account a little while later because a close online friend had started playing, and a lot of online friends were playing it full force. At first this seemed great because I would always have people to play with, but it backfired and they all quickly radically outleveled me and it killed my motivation to keep playing the game.

I actually went back to the game a third time sometime after Phantasy Star Universe: Ambition of the Illuminus came out. I know a lot of people were down on PSU, and I can see why. The first two times I didn't really care for it and the differences from PSO, but the third time I played it I ended up liking it more than I ever liked PSO. With the expansion, the game felt complete and the items felt a lot more like the endgame PSO stuff. It had new weapon types and new classes. It finally felt like a true sequel to PSO, with all the better controls and nicer graphics of PSU. It didn't hurt that I played with close real-life friends and we played at regular times. I have great memories of playing the hell out of an electric themed event. After that event things fell apart and eventually everyone I played with went back to play World of Warcraft, the fuckers. I held out hope that we'd get back to playing for a few months, but eventually, being the last man standing, I quit.

I spent some time sporadically through this time playing on PSO private servers, but I could never quite rally people to play it, and after having enjoyed the latter times of PSU, I don't really want to go back to it anymore. I guess some of my online friends have since started playing the Phantasy Star Portable series on PSP, but with the English releases being released so far behind the Japanese ones, and my problems with not having a working PSP lately, I never got into it. Now, with Phantasy Star Online 2 on the horizon, I look forward starting the cycle anew.

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