Yet Phantasy Star Portable remains extremely compelling. With destructible objects and enemies harboring sweet treasure, be it gold or gear, we were happily mashing away on the square and triangle buttons to hack ‘n slash our way through the stylized sci-fi settings. While level layouts are recycled throughout, the neon glow and futuristic, Asian-influenced architecture gives Phantasy Star an awesome cyberpunk aesthetic. There are tons of kickass clothes to wear, too, so your customizable character will always have a cool, unique look.
Like the dungeons, combat is also limited. But the “Action Palette” lets you easily swap between five weapon load-outs with a tap of the circle button, allowing you to effectively take down specific baddies with speed or power at your preferred range. The races, Humans, CASTs, Newmans and Beasts boast unique stats that can be further broken down by one of three jobs: Hunters, who like intimate situations and swords, Rangers, which keep their distance with bows and guns, and Force, who favor special abilities over assault.
The lack of an online mode in PS Portable means you’re stuck with ad hoc gaming, which is silly considering that it’s obviously built for lengthy, at-home sessions. Considering how poorly the local multiplayer runs with just two dungeon runners, however, infrastructure isn’t a viable option.
Phantasy Star Portable’s arenas offer loads of loot if you’re in need of satisfying a role-playing craving. The problem is that it’s designed for extended sessions rather than portable play, and you’ll spend as much time talking about a rabbit-eared robot’s feelings as you will slaughtering legions of monsters.
Mar 16, 2009