XBLA’s Most Wanted: Phantasy Star Online
Torchlight wasn’t the first title to successfully mimic Diablo’s loot-centric gameplay on consoles, there were countless titles before it that satisfied that gear-gathering itch, most notably coming from a distinctly Japanese franchise not expected to go in that direction: Phantasy Star Online.
Sega’s last video game console, the Dreamcast, had a software library that catered to the hardcore gamer, and games like Phantasy Star Online were beyond its time featuring persistent, MMO-like worlds that constantly dropped the infamous “red boxes” that gamers grew to adore.
What should change:
Updated visuals – The game still looks decent when booted on the Dreamcast, but it could look even better on Xbox Live Arcade with a high-definition makeover.
New rares – Phantasy Star Online is remembered for its rare loot, something that was obtained on the higher difficulty levels, so adding new weapons and gear would make fans come back to the title.
P2P online – Many people abhor P2P online infrastructure, but having Sega dedicate a server to one XBLA game would be too costly for the company, and make the title less likely to release, so a P2P server setup would allow Sega to focus on updating the game and rely on players to maintain the service online. Also, with P2P, the game’s online service wouldn’t abruptly stop when Sega decides to dismantle servers.
Version 2.0 – The Sega Dreamcast saw two versions of PSO, the second having a new difficult setting, more rare loot and a raised level cap. XBLA deserves version 2.0 with all of the updated gameplay, but with even more to entice older fans to hunt monsters again.
What should stay the same:
Almost everything – When the game was originally released on the Dreamcast, it had a perfect balance of action and loot-collecting, and that intricate balance needs to stay.
Why it would succeed:
Torchlight’s success is a testament to the genre, and there’s always room for more. With PSO, Sega could explore an niche favorite and add elements that will cater to a wider audience on XBLA. Hardcore gamers fondly remember Sega’s last console, and they don’t want games like Sega Bass Fishing on XBLA, they want the true classics!