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First unveiled at the Tokyo Game Show on September 19th, 1999 in Japan, the Phantasy Star Online series is the newest addition to Sega's premiere RPG franchise. Developed by Sonic Team, whose members include some of the original PS Team, PSO supports up to four human players in online games, or one to four players offline, and has been released in original, Version 2, and Episode 1 and 2 forms. Version 2 features many new items and new modes of play. PSO: Episodes 1 and 2 is yet another version, this time containing new items, new levels, new characters, improved graphics, and an item-trading interface. PSO: Episode 3 is a "card battle" sequel.

PSO Dreamcast Japan Dec. 21, 2000
PSO Dreamcast U.S. Jan. 23, 2001
PSO Dreamcast Europe Feb. 23, 2001
PSO Ver. 2 Dreamcast Japan June 7, 2001
PSO Ver. 2 Dreamcast U.S. Sept. 25, 2001
PSO Ver. 2 Dreamcast Europe Mar. 1, 2002
PSO* Windows PC Japan Dec. 20, 2001
PSO* Windows PC Taiwan April 3, 2002
PSO: Ep. 1 and 2 Gamecube Japan Sep. 12, 2002
PSO: Ep. 1 and 2 Gamecube U.S. Oct. 29, 2002
PSO: Ep. 1 and 2 XBox Japan Jan. 16, 2003
PSO: Ep. 1 and 2 Gamecube Europe Mar. 7, 2003
PSO: Ep. 1 and 2 XBox U.S. Apr. 15, 2003
PSO: Ep. 1 and 2 XBox Europe May 23, 2003
PSO: Ep. 1 and 2 Plus Gamecube Japan Nov. 27, 2003
PSO: Ep. 3 Gamecube Japan Nov. 27, 2003
PSO: Ep. 3 Gamecube U.S. Early 2004
PSO: Ep. 3 Gamecube Europe Early 2004
* Includes the content of PSOV2 for the DC

PSO has a unique online interface. Players can type messages to teammates using an onscreen or physical keyboard (note that the game has a built-in profanity censor.) Alternatively, players can select from dozens of pre-written phrases. Finally, players can rely on icons, such as smily faces and frowns, to convey quick bits of info. Each phrase and icon appears in a word ballon above the character's head. In order that the game should appeal to a worldwide audience, each pre-defined phrase included in the game is automatically presented in the player's chosen language. Further, the game itself supports five languages immediately... English, Japanese, German, Spanish, and French. The PC version additionally supports Korean and Chinese.

Individual players will be able to search for speficic teammates, or can play an open game. A game may be open to the public, so that anyone can join (up to four players) or password protected so that only invitees can join. Players cannot harm other players under normal circumstances, and items can be exchanged between them. Previous Phantasy Star universe monsters appear in the game.

Players can choose their character from one of three classes: Hunters, Rangers, and Forces, each with three to four members, depending on the version. The appearance of the chosen character can be cusomized in eight areas, including, face, costume, and body proportion. As always, there are magic-based characters (Forces), weapons-based characters (Rangers), and overall balanced characters (Hunters.)


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By Steve Ward

Every game needs one...

Prototype Screenshots
The next best thing to playing...

Version 1 Costume Codes
Fashion plates...

For Maxxing out...

Non-Player Characters
Meet the people of Pioneer 2...

Online Structure
Organizing adventures...

Technique Summary
Technical expertise...

Unit Items
For that extra boost...

Legendary Weapons
The Best of the Best...

Version 2 Armors and Shields
The best defense is...

Setting the mood...

Sega of Japan's PSO Website
The Origin...

Sega of America's PSO Website
The Translation...

PSO Cover

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