Phantasy Star is an old school RPG that many people recall back in the days of the original Sega Genesis and Master System, but it has come a long way. It has gone portable, MMO and retro in the last few years, and the franchise keeps on coming with more releases in the wings. Phantasy Star Portable 2 (PSP2) is the successor to Phantasy Star Portable, which makes some sense, but how similar is it to its predecessor and is it worth the new purchase?
PSP2 comes out of the gate and really improves upon its first iteration. SEGA really hit a home run on this great RPG with lots of functionality and accessibility. Some of the things that have changed are that you now have the ability to roam around the city, like a true MMO. You can move from shop to shop and talk to NPCs to get missions instead of teleporting everywhere like in the first one. Also different is that some tweaks have been made to the difficulty so you cannot level as fast as in the first title.
The real-time battle system returns with lots of combos that will help add to your team’s damage. There is also is a new ability to roll in order to dodge and use shields to block. Photon Arts are also back but are now leveled by obtaining Disks of different levels instead of via usage. All types of weapons are available from rifles to double sabers, but they now all share your PP (Mana) instead of having their own Photon energy for each.
You still have the ability to play four-player co-op or battle each other via Ad Hoc, but more importantly you can also play online. Free Online Play makes its debut in this iteration and is both great and a first for the franchise. You are also given control of full customization of your room, a-la Phantasy Star Universe, so you can decorate and create a space unique to yourself.
PSP2 is broken up into segments so you can play in short chunks and never have to dedicate long hours into the title, which is perfect for being on the move. The single player is decent, but some things just don’t translate well from Japanese. New are Mercenary missions where you need to do something specific in an area, like kill everyone under a certain time in order to gain money and special items. Mission Stories advance the main story and monsters scale with your level, which makes it always challenging to play the story instead of over leveling and running through. Open missions can be done multiple times and completed solo from difficulties S to C in order to grind out experience and items. Tactical missions have special objectives that can be done in multiplayer and Trade missions allow you to trade regular items for special items. So you can play this solo, with a friend, in the story or just go at it and grind and still have fun.
This title is a must have for any fan of the franchise, but especially for anyone who enjoyed the first iteration and is looking for some good action RPG on the go on their PSP. You have a decent single player experience mixed with great multiplayer action all in a portable format, which means you aren’t tied to a PC or console. Even if you are not a fan of the franchise, this is still a good grab and blows away Monster Hunter easily.