January of 2001 was both the worse and best month of all time.
On January 29th, Phantasy Star Online, Sonic Team's magnum opus of online gaming, was released for the Dreamcast. One of the best Online games EVER, in my opinion, it did things alot of people never thought possible on a console, and more importantly over dial-up.
For the uninitiated, think a more advanced sci-fi gauntlet or a slightly dumbed down diablo.
Wikipedia entry follows:
Phantasy Star Online (PSO) is an online RPG title, originally released for Dreamcast in 2000. A bugfix/upgrade edition, entitled Phantasy Star Online ver.2, was released for the Dreamcast the following year. This version was also later ported to Microsoft Windows, but only released in Asia.
Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II was later released for Nintendo GameCube and Xbox in 2002, featuring a whole new Episode II alongside with the original Episode I. Consequently, Phantasy Star Online Episode III C.A.R.D. Revolution was released for Nintendo GameCube in 2003, including a sole new Episode III with a changed gameplay formula, in the form of a card game. And in turn, Phantasy Star Online: Blue Burst, a port of the Xbox version, was released for Microsoft Windows in 2004 through digital distribution, featuring both Episode I and Episode II, and adding a new Episode IV, NPCs, quests, team system and server-side saving system.
The Phantasy Star Online titles are a sub-series of Sega's Phantasy Star series of games that began in 1987. With the exception of Episode III, the PSO games themselves are simple hack and slash type role-playing games where the player slays monsters, levels up, buys new equipment, etc. The online Phantasy Stars differ from the previous games of the series by offering a real-time â€“ rather than turn-based â€“ approach to combat, seamlessly integrating this with exploration and plot developments.
And then, two years later, SEGA decides to throw in the towel of hardware development.
But, Phantasy Star Online is still awesome. While all the servers for the original game(s) have been shut down officially, we now have homebrew servers.
Enter SCHTHACK, the homebrew private servers set up for the game. It can be played with all the original versions, which the exception of Episode III on the Gamecube and the Xbox releases.
For Dreamcast players, if you have the broadband adapter, all you have to do is change a few DNS numbers to tell the game to connect elsewhere, or if you have Dial-Up a couple of codes via a codebreaker disc works.
For the Gamecube, tweaks also need to be made to the connectivity settings.
But for most, the easiest thing to do is just download the PC version free of charge. I'd love to play on my Dreamcast, personally, but the lack of Broadband Adapter prevents me from doing so.
You can download the PC version of PSO: Blue Burst from the SCHTHACK website here.
which includes Episode 1, 2, and 4, and works perfectly on any modern computer.
So, who wants to discuss PSO?