Looks like this feature is back to strike fear into your hearts!
So yes it’s time again for The Sega Addicts Speak! That thing where some of the writers from this site spill out their sexy opinions onto the internet for you to soak in. For this week I’ve dipped into one of Sega’s most popular franchises to ask: ‘What are your thoughts on Segas treatment of Phantasy Star?’
What did we think? Hit the jump to soak in our words and find out! Yeah baby, soak it up.
I’ve never played a Phantasy Star game, so I don’t have any personal investment in the series and therefore aren’t concerned with the its shrinking presence in the West. However, I really do empathise with the many Phantasy Star fans out there that consider it one of Sega’s defining franchises. Phantasy Star has been around for longer and has endured for longer than the vast majority of Sega series and the fact that new games such as Phantasy Star Online 2 and Phantasy Star Nova exist at all say something about Sega’s interest in keeping the series alive.
But no one knows why these games aren’t coming to the West — and that’s the part that bothers me the most. A little bit of transparency goes a long, long way and even if Sega outright said “Phantasy Star doesn’t sell well enough in the West”, that’s far better than keeping die-hard fans in the dark for months on end. And it’s not like people haven’t been trying to get answers — fuck knows I’ve tried.
It’s bad PR, pure and simple. Sega, sort it out!
I may be alone, very alone in this, but when Phantasy Star went ‘Online’, some of the magic was undoubtedly lost. I could not ignore that I was playing Gauntlet. Sure, Gauntlet with twenty years of graphical advances and an online infrastructure, but Gauntlet all the same. If Sega are unwilling, or more likely unable to make the investment to support a MMORPG internationally, then we may see the series return to its single-player roots. These roots were hugely innovative, the melding of fantasy and sci-fi, the first person views, the generations concept and the card battles all show that Phantasy Star has never been a by-the-numbers JRPG. A fact that made Sega’s ‘Online’ series all the more disheartening.
A traditional Phantasy Star based upon solo play may well go against Sega’s focus on key franchises. However, as Capcom and Nintendo have shown (one more successfully than the other), treasured franchises can be outsourced to third parties with great effect. Perhaps then, whilst the purchase of Atlus’ parent company may have been more above publishing than development, it has had the serendipitous effect of placing a studio of great talent at Sega’s fingertips. Their skill in popularizing solo gameplay in the connected world and their left-field take on established genres would make them ideal custodians of Phantasy Star‘s heritage.
Like many Sega fans, I’ve been left mostly confused about Sega’s recent treatment of the Phantasy Star franchise. For what was once one of Sega’s biggest titles for home consoles, the Phantasy Star series has been on a decline for nearly a decade in the West with only small mobile games left to a niche but devoted audience. This wouldn’t be that disappointing if it weren’t for the fact that Phantasy Star Zero and the Phantasy Star Portable games are actually incredibly good loot-based RPGs that could appeal to a wider demographic if the marketing supported it.
Now, Western fans are questioning when and if we’ll ever see the first official sequel to the Dreamcast’s Phantasy Star Online and the single-player focused Phantasy Star Nova on the Vita. As both a Sega and Phantasy Star fan, it’s disappointing to see these games stuck in localization limbo when they have so much promise and potential.
I think the recent Phantasy Star titles have been of exceptional quality (especially the portable iterations), but Sega treats Western fans of the series like hobo ghosts that not only don’t exist, but have little disposable income. Of course this evaluation is far from true–Western Phantasy Star fans are so desperate for Phantasy Star Online 2 to reach their soil that they’re willing to spend more on a playable Vita version, (seeing as the Vita is region free and can play Japanese titles) merely because they know a localized version will probably never arrive. That’s dedication.
Not only have I done this, but I’ve also played the Japanese PC version (English patch and all) and can without a doubt testify to the game’s caliber. Sega is still capable of making great Phantasy Star titles, and one is already made but just needs to be shared with the rest of the world. If Sega likes to make money and wants to take advantage of the continuous revenue stream that is the free-to-play-game (oh, the irony) then they really need to give the rest of the world what it truly wants.
I don’t think Sega’s treatment of Phantasy Star Online 2 would matter in the slightest had they not originally announced that it was being released anywhere other than Japan. Phantasy Star Online was one of the most successful early console MMOs, and holds a special place in certain gamers’ hearts. I, however, completely missed the boat on PSO for both Dreamcast and GameCube, which is why I was so excited for my Vita to possibly introduce me to the party everyone was talking about. But with recent avoidance of the topic, and continual support in only Japan and Asia, I wonder if I will ever be invited to the party.
Sega has supported PSO 2 amazingly in Japan with consistent add-ons, and now Phantasy Star Nova for those who are unable to consistently play online. To sum up, PSO2 has had a great first year in Japan. That’s just it though; it’s been out for a solid year in another country. And it has now been weeks since Sega has willingly told us anything regarding a European or North American release. I don’t have a problem with them delaying a game due to localization issues, but we have no idea why it has been delayed. I know they don’t technically owe us anything as the consumers, but I feel it would at least be polite to tell us what is happening with the game in any means at all. Telling us that they are experiencing difficulty with the game is better than not telling us anything. The internet doesn’t approve of cold shoulders, because then the internet’s imagination runs wild. And the last thing you want, Sega, is the internet using its imagination.
I would love to own an English-translated version of PSO 2 on my Vita. I feel that if any MMO would do well right now it would be PSO, because gamers would have something outside of the medieval realm of MMOs to enjoy with friends. However, I am honestly preparing myself for the cancellation announcement. Until then, it looks like my Vita will continue to be my PS Classics machine.
Eh, what’s there to say really? Sega has mishandled the Phantasy Star franchise just like they have with many of their franchises. Japan gets pampered with amazing Sega games and anywhere else gets Sonic. Don’t misunderstand where I’m going here, Sonic is great and what not but all I can say is C’MON MAN!
There’s still a glimmer of hope though as Sega could handle all this correctly and right the wrongs of the past. The recent Atlus purchase is just the path to take with this. Atlus are masters at translating games for other territories and I firmly think this is the direction Sega should take with them. Hand Phantasy Star Online 2 over and let them work their magic.
I’m going to try and be positive on this one because I don’t think there’s enough of that going around in this article. For one thing I think it’s great that Sega are earning some money through a risky venture. They had never done a free game of this scale and Phantasy Star Online 2 could have backfired heavily in Japan. But it didn’t, and this is the key.
Sega showed a lot of nerve by putting so much money into Phantasy Star Online 2, and they’re seeing the profits so why wouldn’t they port it over here? Yeah it would be a brave move again, but so was making this in the first place. Sega has the money to do this and if they could work up the courage again it could mean more for all of us. I guess, lets hope? They did just buy Atlus after all. Anything can happen…
I honestly don’t know what else to say, Sega. I’m glad you’re making a ton off this property in Japan, but maybe it’s time you shared with us.
And that’s all for this week. What a serious subject this turned out to be! Don’t worry though as we’ll calm you down next week with more sweet, sexy words in The Sega Addicts Speak!