Phantasy Star Online Episodes I & II Review – Definitive 50 GameCube Game #35

The series so far: The Definitive 50 GameCube Games.

MMOs are not uncommon on consoles these days, the genre having been popularized by titles like Final Fantasy XI. But in 2002, they were a true rarity, especially for the barely-online GameCube. One very notable exception, however, was Phantasy Star Online Episodes I & II.

Phantasy Star Online began life on the ahead-of-its-time Dreamcast. The hack and slash MMO being a spin-off of the previously offline and turn-based Phantasy Star series.

Episode I of this compilation is an up-port of the Dreamcast original, while Episode II is new. Both titles allow you to create weird and wonderful characters, then explore the science fantasy realms encountered by the colonization vessel, Pioneer 2.

Phantasy Star took advantage of some rare and underused accessories, including the Japan-only ASCII keyboard controller, as well as the Broadband and Modem adapters.

The keyboard must truly be seen to be believed. It looks like a mangled controller with a full keyboard inserted, and takes a whopping two controller ports to function. The Broadband and Modem adapters, meanwhile, took Phantasy Star titles online, as well as gave a few games LAN play, but that’s about it.

Don’t go thinking this game is unplayable now that its servers are long dead. Actually, both of its included titles are fully playable offline, and cooperatively.

Sure, Phantasy Star Online Episodes I & II may seem archaic by MMO standards of today, but the title was a groundbreaker in its time, and remains something truly unique among GameCube games.