Phantasy With A PH
The first online game I had ever played was Phantasy Star Online. It was the first game that truly introduced me to creating and building a character of my own. Not one that acts not as a pre-built persona, but an avatar that is an extension of my own choices and actions (both ethical and social) in a multiplayer game world. With the recent release of the US Phantasy Star Portable 2 demo, I'm back in the Phantasy saddle hacking and slashing away at oddball monsters with 'photon' sabers. This edition of the series, however, introduces a plethora of new mechanics that liven up a classic game style and make it something notable. If you're into this sort of thing, that is.
Every now and then I explore the impact of language on a user interface and examine what techniques can be used to create efficient menus or UI elements. I imported the Japanese version of PSP2 with this in mind. After completing the game in its entirety, the game's use of symbols helped translate the controls and elements to keep things simple, understood, and secondhand. I still couldn't determine what the story was about, which drastically disconnected me from any sense of atmosphere, nor could I tell you the names of any items I had found or purchased, but the navigation was solid. I knew immediately what an item was based on the color and appearance of its icon.
The franchise's world style has always been a big draw for me. The Phantasy games exist within a futuristic realm of space travel, technological magic, holographic displays, and artificial races. It has a different take on the archetypes of Warriors and Mages wielding swords and casting fireballs that makes it stand out to me as well. Not to mention each game came with a killer soundtrack.
And I love me some game soundtracks.