Phantasy Star Online 2 The Animation Episode 2

The Aloof Warrior

Check out previous “reports” here.

As always, light spoilers ahead!

The episode begins with Itsuki finding success in his role as student council president, getting stuff done. We’re introduced to Suzuki Aika, a new student just back from living abroad. Aika is curious about Itsuki and it gets weird.

Anime!

Itsuki shows Aika around the dorm of their boarding school, and we see a legendary SEGA character enshrined in the bathhouse.

With both Itsuki and Aika in the dorm, things continue to get weirder.

We then cut back to Game Stuff, including a pretty great breakdown of PSO2 combat strategies.

Itsuki’s growing confidence in the game has left him arrogant and oblivious of the fact that he kinda sucks at PSO2. Thankfully, he has friends to set him straight.

In the meantime, this is just a great shot:

After struggling with his failure within PSO2, Itsuki repays his debt and reconciles with SORO. This mini character arc is great- it totally justifies the real-life/in-game split approach the creators took to The Animation. Thinking of how actions within a video game affect people in their “real” lives is a fascinating and powerful topic, even through the show’s sometimes strange anime lens.

The “game” part of the episode wraps up with Itsuki and SORO checking out an in-game concert (something PSO2 players will be familiar with). Back in real life, Rina shares her reason for the student council documenting PSO2- the school wants it banned, and Rina wants to prove its merits (I’m hoping for some Footloose-esque plot beats here in future episodes).

In order to reach her goal, Rina enlists Aika to support Itsuki with his reports, ensuring that things are just going to get weirder.

You can watch Phantasy Star Online 2 The Animation on Crunchyroll or buy the Blu-ray set from SentaiRight Stuf, or Amazon.

Phantasy Star 0 Mini

Phantasy Star 0 Mini is a Japanese DSi-exclusive bite-sized version of Phantasy Star 0. It costs 200 yen, and allows for up to four players to team up and face its single stage.

You can choose to play as one of three NPC characters from PS0. No matter who you choose, you start at level 1 each time. Unlike PS0 proper, this is not a game in which you make progress and level up; it’s a pure time / score attack challenge.

Mini keeps track of your time and score for each “run.” A run here consists of playing through a single stage and fighting the boss at the end.

If you’re going for score and an easier experience, you’ll want to take your time and fight every enemy you see. You’ll level up and maybe get some helpful equipment. This is the way I played, and my run took me a little over half an hour.

However, if you’re going for a faster time, you’ll want to avoid enemies as much as possible. This means missing out on xp and items, which will make the boss at the end of the stage much more challenging. It could be a really cool experience to attempt with a group of friends (but probably pretty frustrating alone).

That’s really all PS0 Mini is. It gives you a taste of PS0 and some cool potential challenges if you have the motivation, but there is no progress and character building to be had.

PS0 Mini is still available on the Japanese 3DS eshop. At its $2 price tag, it may be worth grabbing this Phantasy Star curio before it inevitably disappears into the digital ether forever.

Phantasy Star Online 2 The Animation Episode 1

The RPG That Begins with “Nice to Meet You”

And thus begins my watch of the PSO2 anime.

Light spoilers ahead.

While the episode begins with a Cool Action Sequence, what you’d probably expect from an anime adaptation of an action RPG, it quickly transitions into a high school slice of life show.

Tachibana Itsuki is a student at Seiga Academy (I see what you did there). Itsuki is an inoffensive high schooler, average at everything. He’s known as “the handyman” because he can support others in a pinch (as shown in this episode by being called in as a sub for an injured soccer player on the school team). A jack of all trades, master of none.

Izumi Rina on the other hand, is the master of all trades. She is the universally admired Seiga Academy student council president- a top athlete and scholar.

When she asks Itsuki to become the vice president (seemingly due to his unassuming mediocrity), the other members of the council are unsurprisingly skeptical.

Strap in, we’re about to go Full Anime.

One of Itsuki’s tasks as VP is to play PSO2 and report on it.

Itsuki obliges and jumps into the game (with the support of a lapsed player friend). As Itsuki begins his journey, the anime suddenly becomes very familiar to PSO2 players.

It’s really fascinating to see in-game visuals interpreted into traditional animation.

This becomes even cooler as we get to the ship: a familiar location, suddenly viewed through a more cinematic approach.

On the ship, Itsuki meets a player character, an overly friendly and helpful CAST. Itsuki refuses the CAST’s support, jumps into an Emergency Mission, and is immediately overwhelmed by Darkers (Falspawn in the English localization).

Itsuki is rescued by <you guessed it> who we find out is controlled by <you guessed it>. The episode ends with shots of new characters (both “real” and in-game) that will surely be playing a role in future episodes.

I’m an easy mark for this sort of thing, so I’m definitely on board for PSO2 The Animation and will continue to submit reports.

Oh and the closing animation is wonderful.

You can watch Phantasy Star Online 2 The Animation on Crunchyroll or buy the Blu-ray set from Sentai, Right Stuf, or Amazon.

Oracle Memories (book)

There’s a PSO 2 trading card game (in Japan)! Wild, right?

What’s even wilder (OK it’s not actually that surprising) is that there is a book collecting art from the cards. It’s full of large, textless illustrations featuring supporting characters from the game.

There are also images of the cards themselves.

While it’s unlikely we’ll ever get the card game in The West, this book is a way to experience some pretty fantastic interpretations of PSO 2 characters.

Purchase a copy here.

Phantasy Star Online 2 – Impressions After 60 Hours

Previous impressions: 20 hours, 40 hours.

60 hours in, it’s pretty safe that, despite some quirks, I love this game.

I finished up Episode I in the story. Though told strangely (seemingly random cutscenes selected from a menu), there ended up being some surprising (and tragic) moments. I’m definitely much more invested in the world and characters now than I was 20 hours of playtime ago.

In regards to investment, I also spent some money in the game this week. I bought the Ragol Fashion Pack, which gives you tokens you can exchange for posters, outfits, and music from the original PSO. I ended up purchasing an outfit, a few music tracks for the jukebox, and posters for my room.

The pack also included some scratch tickets (where you can win boosters, furniture, and fashion items for the salon), an item that allows you to earn additional awards from the seasonal mission pass, and a 30 day “premium” pass. The premium subscription is pretty nifty, giving an additional boost to money and exp earning (which stacks with your item buffs). Premium also gives you additional storage and client quest space, and the option to buy more effective drinks before quests (that add even more boosts).

It is totally possible to play PSO 2 for free. However, I’m getting a lot of enjoyment from the game so I’m happy to support it. I may not always be a “premium” player, but while I’m stuck at home with more time to play right now, I’m definitely getting my money’s worth from those boosts.

Sympathy 2013 Concert CD / DVD

This is pretty much exactly what it says on the tin: a recording of a 2013 concert that celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Phantasy Star series.

There are two CDs, encompassing the entirety of the concert. As you can see from the track listing, the songs definitely skew towards the multiplayer-focused games in the series. That said, there is a medley of music from the earlier titles which is pretty sweet.

While I would have loved for there to be more music from the 8 and 16-bit titles, what’s here definitely translates well to a symphonic performance. Mostly opening themes, the highlight for me has to be “Go Infinity,” which includes vocals by longtime Sega musician Takenobu Mitsuyoshi (Daytona USA).

The DVD is pretty neat, with video footage and music from each game. There are also pretty sweet splash screens for each track.

You really haven’t lived until you’ve watched footage of Phantasy Star Online III C.A.R.D. Revolution on a 55” 4K TV via a Japanese PS2 playing a DVD.

ファンタシースター公式設定資料集 復刻版

This is my absolute favorite book on the Phantasy Star series. Released only in Japan (obvs), the book is solely focused on the original quadrilogy of games.

As soon as you open the book, there is a fantastic fold out “poster” featuring fan favorite characters.

The features start pretty conventional, with an overview of each of the 8 and 16-bit games.

From there, the book moves into more eclectic fare: strategy guides, soundtracks, commercials, an interview with the Phantasy Star IV team, and original art (some of which I had never seen before).

I purchased the book from Amazon Japan, but as of this post, temporarily unavailable.

Phantasy Star IV in the Mega Drive Mini Perfect Book

At the launch of the Mega Drive Mini in Japan, Famitsu released a special magazine covering the console and the games. In addition to an interview with Hideki Kamiya, the magazine also contains the greatest SEGA Tower of Power I’ve ever seen.

There are also four pages devoted to the premiere RPG on the mini console, Phantasy Star IV.

The first two pages (above) are an overview of the game, and the last two are a mini guide.

As of this post, the magazine is still available to order from Amazon Japan.

CAST Cast Episode I – Sega Ages Phantasy Star (Switch)

For the first ever episode of the CAST Cast I am joined by BryanGuillaume, and Neal from Nintendo World Report to talk about Sega Ages Phantasy Star on the Nintendo Switch!

Check out the episode HERE (coming soon to other podcast providers)!

Bryan’s review of Sega Ages Phantasy Star

Neal’s impressions

My plea for a Sega Ages version of Phantasy Star in 2015