May 9, 2012This is by far the worst game I have ever played, which comes at an extreme surprise considering how strong the Phantasy Star series of games has been since its inception.
The story is nonsensical, the graphics are terrible, the animations are lazy, and overall the game feels as if Sega did not even attempt to create anything worthy of the Phantasy Star name. Sega has never made a game worse than this.
If you couldn't tell from the trailers, this game is pretty much a "reboot" in that there really is nothing familiar for anyone who's been a fan of the series, sans names for character classes, consumable items, and magic techniques. There's also a surprising amount of dialogue between characters that plays out in fairly inanimate Character Portraits against a still background using 2-d art. Thankfully there is a "skip" feature where by holding down X, the text will fly away. The story is extremely uninteresting and can be actually unappealing altogether at times, making the skip feature a very nice thing to pass over the unimportant chatter to get back to the gameplay.
Unfortunately, it seems the very large amount of character dialogue was added to simply give the player "something else to experience." The actual mechanics of the gameplay are extremely limited, with such undoings as poor hit detection, unbalanced difficulty with the advantage to the in-game enemies, and the complete lack of a "quick" menu that was available in Phantasy Star Online, which this game attempts to emulate but gets every aspect wrong by doing so. The quick menu from Phantasy Star Online (accessed with holding your "secondary action palette button" then pressing the top button) was completely forgotten for Phantasy Star Zero, and the bottom screen provides no logical use aside from displaying your action palette and telling you the name of an enemy or item targeted. Most of the menu screens available take place on the bottom screen, including changing equipment, using items not in your palette, and viewing the map. While accessing these menus, the ability to control your player is forfeit so the directional pad can be used to navigate, and face buttons used to confirm or deny. This is only worth noting because of the lack of a quick-menu, which means that if your teammates fall in battle or you need to use an item that you don't have assigned to your action-palettes (6 individual actions total), you must stop all character movement and be defenseless in the heat of battle so that you can bring up the menu, scroll to your items, then scroll through the item list to use a Moon Atomizer (Phantasy Star's "resurrection") or any other item. Furthermore, since the chat function of PSO (which used to occupy the top-face-button, in the case of the DS, the X button) is replaced with the picture message function accessible by a touch-screen button on the lower screen, the X button actually goes unused while exploring the world and fighting enemies. To say it's completely worthless since a function was not implemented with one of the four face buttons is to go too far however, considering the only thing the X button does is, when held and combined with either the left shoulder or right shoulder buttons, allows you to rotate the camera around your character.
This feature, if it can really be called a "feature," is entirely moot considering the left shoulder button by itself is the "lock onto enemy" button (as well as "center camera directly behind your character" button), and all special Boss Battles automatically have the camera centered on the giant boss enemy at all times. There is literally no reason for this camera rotation feature to exist, especially when there is so little in the game to actually look at or observe as it's worthless function would imply.
They removed the X button as a useful button which would have improved the action palette for a total of 8 individual actions instead of 6, which could have helped with the lack of a quick-menu by adding otherwise unimportant items like Moon Atomizers to your available one-touch actions rather than having to stand in the middle of a battlefield completely defenseless in a panic while navigating menus. There is also a surprising amount of white-space on the bottom screen during the missions which could have been filled with touch-activated shortcuts for actions.
Overall, Phantasy Star Zero seems like it was made by someone who looked at a recorded video Phantasy Star Online for 5 minutes and that was the maximum amount of reference material they ever had. Phantasy Star Zero so vaguely represents anything that the Phantasy Star series has established that it may as well have been a fanfiction story written by a bored and lonely teenager.
The game is horrendous and an abomination not only for the Nintendo DS, but also a detrimental stain on the name of Sonic Team, Sega, and the Phantasy Star brand.
It's not worth money.… Expand
It's a shame that the developers squandered the chance to really build upon Phantasy Star Online, but there's no denying that when you have a few friends at your side, Phantasy Star 0 is just as much fun as its grandpa used to be. [Dec 2009, p.82]