Sega’s Tokyo Game Show demo of Phantasy Star Zero was immediately familiar sans the cutesy art style. Three players and one helpful attendant from Sega linked up for one multiplayer game session. I got to play as a FOnewearl, a female magic wielding Newman sporting a fancy pink cowboy hat. She could smack Rappys with her wand, but as a force user she was much better with magic. My character had three abilities to use shooting a ball of fire, knock enemies with a short range energy wave, and a healing spell. I had a healthy supply of monomates for instant recovery too. Similar to the console games Phantasy Star Zero maps three attacks to the face buttons and you can switch to a second set of attacks by holding a shoulder button.
The areas in the demo didn’t pose much of a threat for our balanced robotic cast ranger, laser blade wielding HUmar, and magic blasting team. We breezed through a forest area and a mountain area with ease. Before you can warp to the next stage all four players must stand on a teleporter. You can’t have different players in different areas.
I was the only one who messed around with the Pictochat feature in my group. We were sitting next to each other so drawing pictures was completely unnecessary, but still fun to play with. Using the thin brush I drew a Godzilla monster chomping on a rappy and tried out the three different chat bubbles. The spiked bubble pulses so it’s probably the one you want to use when asking for someone to heal you. I didn’t need to heal anyone either since other players spontaneously came back to life during the demo.
Good thing the demo gave us infinite lives because the dragon boss at the end would have been a taxing challenge without them. The dragon started breathing fire on the group, standing on the ground so we could attack it. After dealing some damage with a flurry of fireballs the dragon took to the skies and swooped on the screen to attack. You had to make good use of the dodge move to evade the attack since it could kill you after three hits. When the dragon landed back on the ground I sometimes found my character stuck in a loop where she would fall down, get up, and fall right back down. Nothing would break the animation except dying and instantly regenerating. All of us, including the demonstrator, died multiple times during the demo. The problem wasn’t the dragon’s pattern it just had an insane amount of hit points. At the end we were rewarded with virtual loot, not divided among players. Horders can go crazy during treasure explosions.
Since we were connected via local wireless play I couldn’t get a sense of lag issues over Nintendo Wi-Fi, but the good news is Phantasy Star Zero does a fantastic job of recreating the Phantasy Star Online experience even though it has cartoony characters.
Images courtesy of Sega.