My first experience with the Phantasy Star series came just last year when I purchased a Dreamcast for no reason other than the fact that I had never owned one. I immediately fell in love even without the ability to play online and despite the fact that it was quite dated. The simple formula clicked, as it did with many gamers.
Having Phantasy Star on the go with Phantasy Star Portable was great, despite the fact that I never got halfway through the game thanks to finding myself infuriated by the aiming system and switching characters after about ten hours. But based on what I played of Phantasy Star Portable 2 at E3, I may be busting out the big guns for this one.
My main problem with the original Phantasy Star Portable was the incredible difficulties in aiming, which were made worse by the limitations of the PSP’s controls. Mages hurtled spells at nothing, and those wielding guns often found their bullets going astray. Attempts to make small aiming adjustments often resulted in massive errors.
So naturally, I began PSP2 and whipped out a long-range rifle as soon as possible, and sure enough, I found myself at ease. The game now includes significant auto aim, which completely changes the viability of ranged weapon classes. I had a much better time playing through the game using a ranged weapon, which was the exact opposite of my experience with the original game.
So, for me, the game felt more than the slight improvement that it really is. Otherwise, this game feels just like the game we’ve been playing for years now. The graphics look identical to the original, the game has the same weird unfunny sense of humor, and it uses the same mission-based system.
There are a couple of other changes that will affect the gameplay. For one, photon points (the game’s form of energy) are now attached to characters rather than weapons, so you won’t find yourself switching between weapons when your energy runs out. This should make it easier to manage combat. In addition, photon charges aren’t included in the game, so you’ll have to wait for your photon points to recharge. I had no problems in the demo with running out of photon points, but I also had only a basic photon art.
Also new to ranged combat is the ability to charge up shots, which will use up your PP but deliver a much more powerful ranged attack. Players shouldn’t expect to rely too much on these attacks, but they can be handy in a pinch.
Those like me who might want to transfer over their characters from the first game should know a few things first. The only data that is fully transferred over is name and appearance, though you’ll be able to get some bonuses for transferring, including weapons or armor.
There may not be many changes happening in Phantasy Star Portable 2, but the ones that are there seem like good ones. We’ll all find out whether the game pulls us back into the world of Phantasy Star when it releases on September 28th.