VS

WARNING: The following post WILL contain spoilers, so if you’re like those gamefaqs babies that cry “BAN HIM” because someone posted a spoiler without a “proper warning”, please leave. No, gtfo.

Ok. I’ve been playing some major Phantasy Star titles, and I can’t express how much Sega just gave Nintendo fans the finger with the only Phantasy Star title we’ve gotten last generation on the DS. That is Phantasy Star Zero. The other game I’ve been playing was Phantasy Star Portable 2. And HORRRY SHEEEET!Sega really dick rode Sony this time around. While we get shitty Sonic spinoffs and ONE good Sonic game as well as a rail shooter that gets a special edition on the HD consoles, the few PSP lovers out there get a fantastic RPG. 2 infact!

I’ve read reviews, I’ve heard all the BS about how this is the definitive PSO experience on a handheld. I don’t know who they’re fooling, but I think the PSO fans who played the Gamecube games are in denial. Zero is kinda ass in comparison.

But let me be clear. It’s NOT BECAUSE OF GWAFIX! Yes, the PSP is more powerful and that might be why the Portable games got more content, but there’s a few things that pretty much signifies how much Sega just said “fuck it, lets NOT give Nintendo fans some real shit”. So here’s a list of things that scream “Fuck the Nintendo kiddies”. But I’ll be fair and not completely bash Zero. I don’t hate the game. I just hate how piddly the whole package feels.

It’s time for a VS post. Zero vs Portable 2.

And I say Portable 2 only because I haven’t played the first one.  So don’t ask me why I used that over Portable 1.

1. Box Art!

Lets take a look.

VERDICT: TIE

The box art for both games… aren’t very appealing. These are games that will mostly be played by males, so Sega failed in that department. Girls will love it though.

Anywho, I’ll give a few points more to Zero’s box art. The bluish theme does less to deter some folks away from the game, and that dragon looks incredible. But something’s… off about it. Can you point to what it is, viewers? Take a second look at it. Have you found it yet?

BINGO!

This creature from the depths of hell is supposed to be a cowboy. Dear lord. See, Zero has this fantastic nonsense called a “space western” theme surrounding it, so everyone looks like they were dragged out of the late 1800’s. At least the Human Hunters and Rangers.

It wouldn’t be so bad if he looked like this.

A real RAmar!

No. No kick ass Space gunner. We get the “Cowboys from Moo Mesa”

What is this shit!?

This looks like a class that was made for little kids when the game is far more complex. The designs of the game need to fit with the content. You can’t make a game to appeal to little kids when they will not be able to get passed the dragon boss. And how could it not? The game’s poster boy class is a little kid himself!

“Nintendo” Obviously.

As for Portable, the same thing. First off, it’s got this pinkish theme going on which destroys any appeal it might have for men. While they try to salvage it with the Beast in the background and the main white HUmar with saber and gun, it’s ruined by this Numan bitch right here.

IMA LOLI!

Want to destroy any appeal you might have with westerners? Put in loli’s on the front cover. Mission accomplished. You’ve lost profits because you think Japanese shit appeals to the west. And ironically, this is still better than that damn cowboy!

And not to mention the dragon looks a lot less epic than the one on Zero. Zero Dragon looks fierce and intimidating. Portable Dragon looks like a juvenile about to get curb-stomped. Oh and… nice job obscuring your Gundam CAST behind the ESRB rating, geniuses. I wouldn’t want to know about how awesome the game could be if I had an extra Race to shave off the estrogen of that Loli character. The beast is far to small to make much of a difference. People will pay attention to the pink, the crappy dragon, the white trash douche bag, and the Loli!

Well, at least the HUmar is more appealing than that little fucking kid.

Sega used to do what Nintendon’t

So both boxarts are complete trash which would more than likely scare away some customers. Zero with it’s Saturday morning Anime bullshit, and Portable 2 with it’s lovely array of “Pink”. Sega has practically confirmed they have no idea how to appeal to the west with Phantasy Star.

I also noticed. These portable games started to show more of the characters fighting dragons after Universe. Perhaps a sign that Capcom pretty much stole Sega’s Console MMO Market, so they had to get it back by appealing to Monster Hunter fans? Well, at least the gameplay wasn’t fucked to all hell.

2. Presentation!

NOTE: I only look at Presentation as how the game tries to pull me in IE intros. Nothing beyond that.

You’ll have to forgive me for the low quality. You see, Youtube is full of otaku jackasses that hate the english versions of everything.

VERDICT: Portable 2

Ok, I’m sure all 3 of you have seen the Japanese intro in one of my last posts.

Anywho, Zero‘s intro is still typical of the Saturday morning get up. While Reve’s pose is cool as is the shots of Ana’s “delectables”…

fellati- me now.

…the whole thing is ruined by the later portion of the intro where they show the 3 main races at once, followed by all of them sitting in a field of flowers.. staring off to nowhere. The campiness of it all is quite awful. You get that insidious feeling that you were not the intended audience for the game.  Not to mention Sarisa’s awful spin with her shitty wand and pink background. You notice how Kai (token nigga slashing the wolves), Ogi (the robot), and the HUmar (stupid kid) all have action shots without a shitty “low production cost” action background? Sarisa just comes in and ruins that ounce of consistency.

I will admit though that the animation is smooth through out the whole production. That is until you get to Reve’s portion where he uses some… mega punch against Kai and they both produce this big ass energy explosion. Yeah, Reve’s animation frames were cut back for some unknown reason.

Also, after Ana’s exhibition flight, you have Dairoh and Lindow (robot bitch) pop out from the bottom with smiley faces abound, which gives off the full “saturday morning effect” like you wouldn’t believe. And believe me, it’s MUCH… MUCH worse with that Japanese intro music. The Western version tries to scale back on the estrogen and manages to make the package seem a little more…. well… it tries to make it seem better. But no amount of music can change what is essentially a poor intro.

Now, Portable 2 already has shitty intro music. First off, the singer is making a song about… wishing to the stars. I’ve grown limp listening to this bitch. Why couldn’t they do what SOA did with Zero and change the music to something better? The animation is pretty good though. Since it’s all CGI, and Sega is no stranger to damn good CGI.

Yeah, no matter what you think of the game, you have to admit, that looks mother fucking awesome!

The one thing that kinda kills it for me is seeing the 4 main races running toward that jive turkey of a dragon like lame little heroes, shooting off their attacks at random. Not to mention the lyric “PHANTASY STARS UNIVERSE!” pops in right as they’re doing all of this. It honestly kills the mood of the whole intro.

But overall, there’s no debating it. Portable 2 definitely has the better intro by far.

3: CHARACTER CREATION!

Verdict: Portable 2

Yes, I get it. “Memory limitations” of the DS and all that jazz.

Look, Zero just has a poor customization feature in the first place. First off, not every race gets all 3 classes. The humans get everything, the CASTS and the Numans get jipped. The main problem is that you don’t even get that many options to change your character’s appearance. For instance, if you want a HUmar, you’ll be stuck with that fucking kid. You can’t make them taller or change the attire. The most you can do is change the color of their clothes and tinker around with hair styles.

RASTAFARIIIIIIIIIIIIII!

You can at least pick a lot of character voices too. When it comes to hair color, it changes the eye color as well, essentially limiting them to phenotypical stereotypes. Blonde-Blue eyes. Red-Green eyes. Black-Brown eyes.

And at least you can change the skin color, wouldn’t buy this game if I was forced to play a crac- BUT I DIGRESS! You can also change the color of your mag, but a fat lot of good that does. You also have very limited options in changing up how your character looked and sounded, so if you start a new game with your character, don’t expect to be able to change a whole lot. And if you buy any new mags, they won’t be the color you chose. How bullshit is that?

You also only get 3 files, so if you want to try out a new character, you better be ready to sacrifice one of your old ones to do so. In general, your character basically has one design preset. There are no new outfits to try out, you get one body model and 4 head models per race/class. I guess I can admit that at least we can do that much with the creation system given how limited the DS’s capabilities are, but it’s still quite shallow and given that the basic models we’re given for all the Human characters are…. shit, then it doesn’t help much. Plus, why do FOnewearls always have to be designed like lolis?!

Portable 2 is a different story altogether. Thanks to MORE MEMORY LOL, there are no class limitations within the 4 races. 4? Yes, this game has the beast class who actually live up to their names. You have the default outfits, up to 47 hair styles, voice clips, etc. The issue I have is skin color. It’s actually quite limited in the more “pale” looking department. If I wanted to make like… a caramel skinned Newearl, that’s entirely impossible. And let me be the one to say the CASTS look like ass. Especially the female ones. That’s some uncanny valley shit right there.

Why do robots need titties?

And for some reason, the Numans now have an asian theme surrounding them. Why? They were cool as space elves, why make them japanese? Ugh, praise Amma you can change that at least. More than I can say for this asshole.

SON OF A BITCH, SORA! GET OUT OF MY PHANTASY STAR!

Did I mention that you can change damn near everything about your character mid game? From overall design to class to weapon choices? There is way more freedom to customization than you will ever see in Zero. And that’s an understatement.

Of course, the Japanese will make shitty characters like always.

4. STORY!

NOTE: For future references, just know that during BOTH games, you will have the options to answer questions during the storyline which only affects what kind of dialogue you see from the characters.

Verdict: Portable 2

There’s no question about it. Zero presents a tale of a planet that is on the verge of destruction due to… pollution. A group of mercenaries called “hunters” led by Dairoh and Kai take on jobs just to earn money. While this happens, a strange space pod lands on Earth with a Numan girl named Sarisa. After saving her from a dragon, Kai takes her under his wing and lets her join the Hunters. While at first, she isn’t trusting of the Humans, she becomes great friends with them later on in the game. Course, the Numans become worried and decide to track her down, with Reve at the helm. You see, the Numans believe the Humans are responsible for the planet’s destruction (they’re absolutely right), so the game kinda leads you on about a possible conflict between both races. But no, instead, near the end, you find out the Numans were just duped by a super computer they believed was actually a goddess that created them. Yeah, lets not make an INTERESTING story based on Human/Numan conflict, lets make a bloated version of Sonic 3’s story.

Sega did you wrong, Knuckles.

Not to mention the characters are horribly dickish in nature.

Asshole leader

Kai tries faaar to hard to be “perfect” and seems to disagree with EVERY…. FUCKING…. CHOICE you make in the game! Whether you just have a sense of humor or want to get straight to work, he will bitch you out for the simplest of shit! Oh Amma, I hate that guy! Not to mention he’s shit in the fights! One of the best hunters the guild has!? How low are your expectations for this line of work!? I could be my slow ass-tard character from Monster Hunter…. and I would STILL do work on these bitches more than Kai could! And his voice is awful!

Whiny, self-righteous bitch.

Where do I begin with the “CREAM THE RABBIT” of this game? Well, for starters, she’s a cleric with crappy skills and a personality no one would love. She comes off as overly kind, but has a bitch side to her as well. In some instances, if you say the snow tastes “delicious”, she’ll be pissed at you because “she just KNOWS and RESEARCHED everything about snow!” Where the hell did that level of insecurity come from?! She also has that damned “self-righteous” attitude that 99% of all shonen/kids anime presents. You have a villain that does some “bad stuff” which is pretty damn tame to what most REAL villains could do.

You’ve been trying to catch Pikachu for 14 years!? YOU’RE THE MOST ROTTEN PEOPLE ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH!

She also gets raped by a tentacle monster…… and seemingly likes it.  I am not making this up. But, she’s quick to slap a robot for liking what it sees because it’s not proper like he gives a shit. Who am I talking about?

Robot

Ogi is the only character that knows how to live. And is the only robot I know that actually likes titties. Yeah. I couldn’t make this up if I wanted. There isn’t much I can say about this character.

Bitches love me.

Reve is the best character ever. Well… he would be if he wasn’t a tool. He didn’t have time for all that “power of friendship” BS that Kai and Sarisa were spittin. He just wanted to crush the little fuckers. He also has his own Voltron machine that will rape you to crumbs.

But story wise, Zero falls flatter than day old soda. Not only is the plot devoid of any real surprises, but the characters are horrifically intolerable. But I do have to give them some credit. The story alters depending on what race you choose, giving you a different perspective. If you play a Human, you’ll be Kai’s partner from the start in the Hunters Guild. If you’re a Numan, you’re amnesiac and have the mission of tracking down Sarisa’s stupid ass while observing the Human’s activities. If you’re a CAST, you have no real allegiance and just… do shit. Even then, the plot doesn’t change by much considering that the story format is exactly the same. You show up in town, join the Hunters, take jobs, fight Reve, go to ruins, go to moon, etc. But at least they tried to invoke some replay value, even if you need to delete characters to do so.

And again, Portable 2 is a different story altogether. It’s like Sega actually gave a shit about the plot!

In Portable 2, it takes place 3 years after Universe for the PS2, 360, and PSP (and no Wii version in sight. *sigh*). After the conflict with an enemy race called “Seed” (what a shitty name for an enemy race). After the wars, the Planets of Parum, Moatoob, and Neudias (whatever  their names are) are all devastated. But a new technological theory has been developed. It is called “subspace travel”. With that, the races of these planets can go to different worlds to be colonized (IE taken over, if history is any evidence to go by… fucking British Empire).

So the game starts off in some ruins where you’re a nobody who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when all of a sudden, a girl wearing all pink decides to have a headache which causes an explosion that traps you inside.

THE…. CHRONIC!

Essentially, after helping her out, you get blackmailed into joining a mercenary group called “Little Wing”. Yeah, that’s your reward for saving this white bitch. Strange world, huh?

Yeah, the guy in charge is considered “evil” by everyone, so at least there’s a bit of realism in personalities. Anywho, the characters are a helluva lot more tolerable in this game as well.

A like-able loli!? It really IS a MadWorld!

Emillia is essentially this game’s Sarisa in that she’s your main partner for everything. The difference is she’s human and not much of a total bitch like Sarisa. Infact, she’s actually… pretty cool for a blond. She’s just as useless in combat, but her ass whippins are barely noticeable. She also has some “Ancient” bitch living inside of her, making her “veerrrry spheshal”. Ooooooo

Get a haircut, hippy.

This “beast” is the boss of Little Wing….. who blackmails you for saving Emilia. Yeah, don’t expect to like him early on. He gives that child more hell than anything. If it was Sarisa, I could understand. Eh, later on, he actually gets better as the story progresses. But it is damned funny.

Coolest… outfit… ever.

Yut Yun… Yunkers. There’s no amount of vocabulary available to describe how much I want to kick his lily ass all over the place. First, he’s an annoying ass boss, then he acts like that little brother whose ass needs to be kicked with a vengeance! He runs away from you in every… damn… chapter, thinks a near death experience will turn you into a Super Saiyan (seriously, he thinks dying will make you stronger. That’s Vegeta’s own fucking thought process!) and LOVES TO SHOUT ABOUT HIS SENSES! DAMMIT! Hate this bastard!

The “White” Ana

She introduces herself by delivering the best insult ever to Kraz. “Your breath makes me want to buy a Hazmat Suit”. These Numans are some cold mother fuckers. And despite that, she ends up marrying that guy anyway! Also has a laser whip, making her a futuristic Belmont of sorts.

The “Seto Kaiba” of Phantasy Star.

She thinks she’s hot shit because she’s a member of the “Guardians”, a fancy name given to space police. apparently, she’s the sister of Ethan Weber who was the main character of Phantasy Star Universe, otherwise known as the game every PS fan hates. That said, no wonder Lumia has a nasty disposition when you first meet her. Lumia meets people who were introduced in a game that got much better reception than her first game! And how about that? 2 mages that seem to be rivals. I think this was intended to be cute. It failed.

The story is more involved with a conspiracy involving a corporation whose motives are questionable. That and subspace travel is actually driving lots of monsters and inhabitants batshit insane.

Already, that sounds more interesting than a race of beings getting fooled into believing Humans are “mean people”. We hate corporations almost instinctively, so there is a much broader appeal to be had here than in Zero. Not to mention much better characters and even better writing. I don’t think a weak script is the fault of the DS’s hardware now, is it? 😛

5. GAMEPLAY!

VERDICT: Portable 2
Now I feel like I’m being unfair. Lets rundown what the deal is with Zero‘s gameplay.

If only that touch screen was put to good use.

Firstly, it’s slow. Combat is quite the chore in that all of your attacks have to be timed. No, I don’t have a problem with needing to time your attacks! The problem is with the amount of time it takes to get the damn attacks out! You see, when it comes to attack animations, every single move you do comes out slowly. Even your evasive abilities chug like all hell. If your character has poor recovery times for every single move, then the combat is going to deter people from playing the game alone. Especially when you need to grind. And believe me, grinding in this game is a draaaaaaaaaag. It takes far to long to level up, I haven’t even found the motivation to move my character passed 36 at this point. It takes waaaay to long to kill one enemy because no matter how much you buff you characters up, their awful recovery times as well as all the evasive moves you’d have to do in order to avoid a supreme ass kicking make everything take far longer than it needed to be. And honestly, why do the characters have such overly long animations for all of their moves? Even dodging, it’s like after you stop rolling, your character has to slowly stand up in his/her own 2 feet before doing anything again. So even your own evasive maneuver puts you at risk! I didn’t think Sega would look toward Mortal Kombat for inspiration of how to make the game even harder, but dammit they’ve done it well. On top of that, you can’t block unless you use a shield. WHY!? You also have the ability to use Photon arts which are basically weapon exclusive special moves you can perform by holding down w/e button your weapon is configured to, then releasing to unleash an onslaught of attacks. These moves still have the same problems in recovery, but less so. At the same time, if you need to switch weapons, oh man, you are shit out of luck. You have to pause the game, IE you prevent YOURSELF from moving just to go through some menus and change your weapon. While doing this, you are vulnerable to attack. So your best bet is to find a safe place to change weapons. I don’t know what the hell they were thinking. And just… why didn’t they take advantage of the touch screen beyond map controls and a shitty speech system? The touch screen is better used for convenience of menu navigation, and this game would SEVERLY benefit from it. You could go through the menus for weapon changes WHILE MOVING YOUR DAMN CHARACTER! It just creates this air of artificial difficulty when you have to find a SAFE PLACE to change your weapons! I don’t care about the menu shortcuts, THAT SHIT IS NOT A RESPONSE TO BAD GAME DESIGN! Zero is difficult enough as it is, it just seems like boneheaded decisions were made  that makes everything much more unbearable! They were not using their brains at this point!

Contrast to Portable 2 where the combat is much faster, you can actually cancel out of an attack to an evasive roll, block, or Photon arts. Photon Arts are configured to a separate button for easy access and better canceling opportunities, all of which makes combat more enjoyable, faster paced, etc.  Plus, you don’t need to bend over backwards with your balls in a knot to CHANGE YOUR WEAPONS! You’re mobile while navigating a quick drop menu to scroll through to change your weapons on the fly. Just hold circle and scroll to what you need! Simple and painless! It would’ve been much better if they did that with touch controls! But no! Oh, and you can block with anything besides a shield. You just need a 2 handed weapon. While the action palette is a lot less customizable in this game, it’s at least manageable that it doesn’t get in the way of the ass kickings.

As well, the dungeons/areas you go through are randomly generated. Now, this wouldn’t be so bad if the rooms themselves had…. idk… some variety maybe? It’s like everywhere you go, it’s the same bland area. You might get a few traps here and there, and you might get some turrets to deal with. But after the first time, these little gimmicks are used and abused so much that we might as well not have anymore than 4 areas in the game. This wouldn’t be such a problem if all the areas weren’t so damn long! It could take you a good 10-30 minutes at worst to clear these places, and that’s not including how long a single fight against several waves of enemies could take.

While Portable 2 has a better variety of areas, I can’t say the same for your enemies. How many bipedal aliens with fireball attacks do they have in this game? I can apply the same strategies for everything. Because everything you kill fights exactly the same. No need to change tactics, no need for different weapons, just sit back and spam the same bloody strategies you’ve been using since the beginning.

In addition, for both games, your character’s weapon choices seem to be out of wack. For some reason, weapons that should be available to you are not based on insignificant issues such as “race”. If you are a HUnewn, for example, you cannot use a specific SWORD weapon that a CAST could. Because robots are obviously stronger. This, I guess I could accept, but when I can’t use a type of gun because I’m not a CAST, fucking lines are getting crossed. An array of weapons could be denied because you’re a black guy… er… “beast race”. And no reason would be given.

On the plus side of portable, leveling is much faster, and you actually notice some changes to your states. reaching the 40s, you could be doing up 3-400 points of damage to an enemy. Zero will hardly let you pass beyond the 100 mark. On the negative side, you don’t get mags in Portable 2.

……….FUCK!

Both games have an equal amount of quests (all of which are basically just going through the same dungeons over and over again with no real variation, just complete the dungeons again… and again). Portable 2 basically just gives you “challenges” like complete a dungeon under 7 minutes or so. Other than that, the questing system for both games are shallow. But at least Zero gives you some sweet rewards for all the trouble. Overall, however, Portable 2’s smoother and faster combat already makes it a more enjoyable experience for Phantasy Star players. Zero might have some better… erm… rewards for completing quests, but Portable is more focused on character customization, and in the end, that’s what really counts for MMO styled games.

I think I’ve been unfair enough as it is. There’s really no comparison. Portable 2 is the better game in every way imaginable. Story, combat, customization, everything. So why is it that Sega practically gimped Zero?

I know everyone is thinking hardware, but I don’t think that’s really the idea. Was hardware really the reason why combat in Zero chugs like shit? Why not cut a few frames from attack animations? That would save more memory and give you much better combat. It would look cheaper, yes, but it would flow that much better. And believe me, memory is a terrible excuse for that storyline they put into the game. It’s so unbelievably bland. When you look at the script for Portable 2, you literally “feel” like they didn’t care about Zero. I don’t think any Journalist could spin it any other way. Zero was gimped from the start. And if the gameplay can’t overshoot everything else, the product is a failure. The meat of the gameplay is combat and looting, and when looting is the only enjoyable aspect of the game, hampered by a poor inventory system, you know it’s fucked.

And no, I have not tried the online capabilities of either game, mainly because TRENDnet is a pile of shit router that isn’t supported by any real gaming device as far as I can tell. But even then, I wouldn’t bother trying to get a connection on the DS either way. It gets dropped like a million times, I swear. And with the piss ass combat of Zero, I wouldn’t even bother period. The combat alone is just that boring and tedious. This factor I think needs to be hammered into everyone’s skull. The combat sucks. The combat sucks. The combat completely sucks.

Honestly, the only reason Zero is an inferior product is because Sega just didn’t care. They didn’t care enough with a lot of games they made for Nintendo’s consoles. Portable 2 has a much bigger community than Zero, as well. So even if folks could come up with reasons (CASUALZ!) why Zero is superior, there are LESS people playing that game than Portable 2. There’s no getting around that.

WINNAR: Phantasy Star Portable 2