Video Game: Phantasy Star Zero
Shortly after the release of Phantasy Star Portable
on the Playstation Portable
decided to not leave Nintendo DS
owners out in the cold. Thus came Phantasy Star Zero
(written as Ĝ
in North America), the second game of the Phantasy Star
franchise on a Nintendo handheld console. (After the Compilation Re-release
on the GBA, of course.)
Released in late 2008 in Japan and late 2009/early 2010 for North America and Europe, Phantasy Star Zero
brings back much of Phantasy Star Online
's game mechanics and style (it is, after all, abbreviated PS0
), with some minor improvements. Like both Phantasy Star Online
and Phantasy Star Universe
, it is a Massively Multiplayer Online Action RPG
(on the DS!), but has a monthly cost of $0 (YES!).
The story begins on a nameless planet
two hundred years after a mysterious calamity known as the Great Blank
, which destroyed most historical records. The modern world is now a Cattle Punk Scavenger World
where the last fragments of humanity do their best to live on.
However, this peaceful life is about to change: the Ridiculously Human Robots
known as CASTs have begun to awaken from the slumber
imposed upon them by the Great Blank, and an enigmatic group of Human Aliens
are descending to Earth for unknown reasons. The presence of these three races begins to move the gears that have been frozen for the past two centuries, and will reveal not only the cause of the Great Blank but determine the future of the universe.
See Phantasy Star
for the original tetralogy, and Phantasy Star Online
or Phantasy Star Universe
for the other games of the series.
Phantasy Star Zero provides examples of:
- A God Am I: Mother Trinity. Subverted, because she's the host of Dark Falz itself.
- Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese version of the game actually had a theme song, but for some reason, versions outside of Japan replaced it with an entirely instrumental track made to evoke The whole new world. This can make the inclusion of the entirely Japanese Taisetsu na Mono in all versions of the game strangely jarring.
- Another Side, Another Story: The main story of Zero changes significantly depending on the player character's race, complete with differing FMVs for each story.
- Art Evolution: Initially, Zero's artwork was done in the same style as PSO and PSU (example pictured above). However, shortly after its announcement, the artwork was changed to something more generic and evocative of anime styles since the Turn of the Millennium.
- Ass Kicks You: The Funny Dive Photon Art for wands. The character using it propels themselves into the air by twirling their wand, then comes crashing down on their rear, causing a sparkly shockwave that hits enemies in an area of effect.
- Big Damn Heroes / Big Damn Army: In the Human storyline, Kai and the entirety of Dairon City's Hunter's Guild, including the Guilds of nearby cities, come to the rescue of the player's party and the newman resistance just when all seems lost. Also something of a a Gondor Calls for Aid moment, because Lindow comments that the mayor and a large number of hunters left town a chapter or two before they make their rescue.
- Bag of Sharing: The Joint Trunk can be accessed by any character on your card.
- Body Surf: Zero's CASTs can do this to an extent; compared to the Androids and CASTs from other games, the head is the only critical component of their body. A CAST can swap bodies just by detaching their head and mounting it on another body.
- Boring but Practical: HUcast or HUcaseal characters. They don't learn any techniques, and their traps are situational. In exchange for their versatility, though, they have access to all kinds of weapons, and they boast highest base-attack in the game. In addition, they slowly regain HP. Choose your implement of bodily harm, and go crazy on the attack button; repeat until either the 'Game Over' screen or the credit scene (whichever comes first).
- Camera Centering
- Camera Lock-On
- Cannot Spit It Out: Sarisa, after the ending credits.
- Cattle Punk: Androids standing side to side with cowboys from The Wild West and hunters dressed like soldiers from the American Civil War? You bet your sweet bippy.
- Charged Attack: All techs and most weapons have a hold type charge attack. For techs, charging is how you use the higher level attacks from previous games (Foie charges up to Rafoie, for example). For weapons with charge attacks, you use Photon Arts, powerful attacks that range from Awesome but Impractical, like the Wand's Act Trick, to so useful there's almost no reason you should be using anything but the attack as long as you have the TP to use it, like the Gunblade's Earth Bullet.
- Chekhov's Gun: The ability for a CAST to Body Surf becomes an important plot point.
- Color-Coded Multiplayer: Like in PSO and PSU, Zero color-codes the speech bubbles of the party with a corresponding similarly colored icon next to their name on the second screen.
- Combat Tentacles: Octo Diablo. Who then drops one of its tentacles, which then gets turned into a Rocket Launcher.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Lindow, the CASEAL assistant to Dairon City's mayor, if you talk to her before every story-related mission and tell her "I wanted to see you!"
- Dialogue Tree: Noticeably more prevalent than in other Phantasy Star games where the player makes their own protagonist; the other characters still do most of the talking, but you have many chances to give an opinion.
- Difficult but Awesome: FOnewmearls can deal incredible damage with techniques, making them capable of soloing quite a few levels (skill permitting). However, proper use of one requires that the user master aiming the spell while controlling the camera, as well as avoid getting smashed about by enemies.
- Disaster Scavengers: Together with hunters and cable runners, these guys make up an important triad of important out-of-city occupations in Zero's society.
- Disney Death: Kai, who appears to sacrifice himself fighting off monsters in the Makara Ruins. He sets up the Big Damn Heroes and Big Damn Army moment toward the end of the story.
- Played strangely straight by Mother Trinity and Dark Falz. One of the post-story quests reveals that as long as newmans like Reve long for the guidance of Mother Trinity, they will keep returning over and over and over again.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Ogi of all people suffers this when he first meets Ana. Sarisa punishes him for it.
- The Drifter: After his Dark and Troubled Past, Kai became this before he settled down in Dairon City and joined the Hunter's Guild there.
- Dual Boss: Chaos and Mobius, Reve's personal combat vehicles.
- Earth All Along: A Double Subversion— when Zero was first announced, the game was expected to be a continuation of the Phantasy Star Online series. Then, Sega announced it would have no connection at all to any previous Phantasy Star game whatsoever ... and yet, aside from all the subtle references to PSO, the side quest "Mother's Memory" blatantly states that the "earth" of Zero is the very same Coral that was the homeworld of PSO's setting!
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: To the people of Zero's contemporary society, the planet they live on is simply called "the earth" and its one moon "the moon." It wasn't always like this.
- Everything's Squishier With Cephalopods: Octo Diablo, a massive octopus. Sarisa really doesn't like this thing.
- Fairy Battle: Booma Origins et al, Rappies et al. They even have their own battle theme for each area.
- Friendly Sniper: Professional though he is, Ogi is also rather personable. Kai comments on Ogi's glibness in the Human mission "Clockworks," where Ogi doesn't seem all that bothered by the fact that Octo Diablo had just eaten his entire body save for his head just earlier.
- He shows the same attitude in the newman and CAST versions of said mission too. He ties with Kai for the title of 'Most Personable NPC'.
- Gag Boobs: Ogi makes mention of the fact that Ana is quite well-endowed for a Newman. Sarisa is not pleased.
- Global Currency: Meseta. The star systems and times may change in Phantasy Star, but the money stays the same.
- God of Evil: Dark Falz. In Zero, he can manifest in the body of someone or something with enough darkness in their heart. That includes Artificial Humans.
- Gun Twirling: RAmars will do this after firing a salvo from a handgun.
- Hijacked By Dark Falz
- Identical Descendant: The human character in a nutshell, compared to the human hero of the Great Blank. Mother Trinity takes this just about as well as you'd expect.
- Hub City: Dairon City. You will not see another city in the entire game.
- Kaizo Trap: Here's a tip—don't stand under the Reyburn when it dies.
- Kick the Dog: Mother Trinity to Reve. And it's a particularly cruel one at that. While attacking the Arca Plant, Trinity sets Reve on you to stop you from damaging her power supply. You beat him, only for her to toss him away as useless after revealing that she didn't even NEED the Arca Plant at that point. He's utterly devastated.
- Kid Hero: Sarisa doesn't seem all that old. The default HUmar looks to be about her age as well.
- Joke Item / Lethal Joke Item: Continuing the tradition set by PSO, Zero includes a number of joke weapons like laser cannons shaped like ice cream cones, and pizza box boomerangs. There's also homage weapons from non-Sega franchises, like the Dokan Cannon (Warp Pipe), Charge Beam (Samus' arm cannon) Hatsune Miku's Leeke (Vocaloid). Unfortunately, those last three don't exist in non-Japanese versions of the game.
- La Résistance: Ana is the leader of the newman resistance on the moon.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Every CAST that awakens suffers from some form of this due to being forced offline before the Great Blank by Mother Trinity's Photon Noise.
- Lost Technology: Pretty much everything about the former civilization on the earth. Prior to the events of the story, the only way to recover lost science and technology was to scavenge it.
- Luckily My Shield Will Protect Me: The Shield weapons you can equip in the game give you a slight defense bonus, but more importantly, holding down the L Button will raise the Shield. As long as you're faceing whatever is trying to attack you, the Shield will negate ALL damage and status effects for the cost of some TP (usually less than it would cost to heal yourself with Resta anyhow). If you aren't good at Rolling to avoid attacks (or even if you are, since some attacks are very difficult to roll out of safely), you'll be relying on your shield A LOT from late Normal mode onward.
- Magical Girl Warrior: Sarisa's much like this, considering that she is a soldier of the newman race ... yet often comes off like a Magical Girl in combat. That her rod looks like something right out of a Magical Girl anime only enforces this.
- Marathon Level: The Eternal Tower is easily the longest area in the game. It will literally take you hours to complete it, especially on the higher difficulties. You'll be thanking Nintendo for the DS' built-in sleep mode, since you can't save and quit in the middle of it without abandoning the entire run. And did we mention that you need to complete it at least once on Hard to unlock Super Hard offline? Or that there are many rare weapons that are only available at the tower? Have fun...
- Not to mention if you want to expand your inventory slots this is the only way to do so meaning you have to do it a minimum of three times to max your inventory slots per character. Luckily if you look at the bottom screen, you can sometimes skip rooms. Even still, have fun with your 8-15 hour runs...
- Master Computer: Mother Trinity.
- Moon Rabbit: The newmans in this game have a distinct "rabbit" motif to their outfits — many items of headgear for player characters or NPCs have ear-like extensions, and one female PC newman hat is outright designed after a rabbit, with ears and a cottontail.
- Nominal Importance: In an odd twist, the only people who don't seem to get names in Zero are people you only meet briefly in quests, as well as those who work the Hunter's Guild mission counter and storage bank. Other NPCs will eventually give you their name, if not outright.
- You'll also notice, both here in this article and in the game, that "earth" and "moon" are never capitalized ...
- Neuro-Vault: CAST bodies have a "sub-memory" system. If another CAST assumes control of the body, they have access to whatever was in the sub-memory.
- Memory Gambit: One of the CASTs who lived on the moon during the Great Blank pulls a form of this before he died; he committed all he knew about Mother Trinity and her actions to the sub-memory in his body, in hopes that a CAST in the future would find his body and download the knowledge.
- Note to Self: Part of the Chekhov's Gun; Ogi finds out exactly what happened during the Great Blank. He. Is. Pissed.
- Ooh Me Accent's Slipping: Ogi has a brief case of this when he assumes control of a CAST body in Paru ... and develops a Texan-esque accent. It takes him some effort to get back to his usual voice.
- Never Trust a Hair Tonic: The concoctions Mayor Dairon tries may or may not be effective, but they certainly stink to high heaven.
- OC Stand-in: The default HUmar (he's the kid with the red jacket standing above the logo in the example image above) is set up as this in the opening FMV; he stands in for the player's character.
- The Obi-Wan: Kai; if your character is human, he's the one who trained you prior to your official acceptance into the Hunter's Guild.
- The Pioneer: Kai happened to be this in his childhood. He related his Dark and Troubled Past in the form of an unrelated story to the player character and Sarisa. Only Ogi realizes that Kai was talking about himself.
- Something of an informed stupidity moment on the part of the player character though, as many players cottoned on very quickly indeed.
- Phenotype Stereotype: Among the Human characters, Zero doesn't allow the player to choose a custom eye and hair color combination. You're stuck with either blond hair/blue eyes, red hair/green eyes, or black hair/brown eyes. Granted, you can mix and match these with different skin tones ...
- Power Equals Rarity: Just ask anyone searching for a Zero Rifle or a Psycho Wand.
- Red Herring: There are hints that the game takes place on Earth as referenced in Phantasy Star II. It does take place on a previously-unseen homeworld significant to the Phantasy Star series, but it's the one from Phantasy Star Online — which is also hinted.
- Relationship Values: The choices you make during conversations and cutscenes affect what your True Companions and other characters think of you. Mostly, this affects who talks to you and what they say after the main story finishes.
- Ridiculously Human Robot: CASTs, though perhaps less human than the ones in Universe.
- Ruins of the Modern Age: Paru ("Oblivion City").
- Schizo Tech: A recovering human/CAST civilization on the earth with scraps of Lost Technology, and newmans on the moon who never lost that technology and in fact improved upon it.
- Shout-Out: The music theme that plays whenever a "nest" of Ridiculously Cute Critters is encountered is titled "Rappy Fever," which was also the name for the jackpot used by Casino Voloyal slot machines in PSU.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Phantasy Star Zero's name. If abbreviated to PS0, it can be hard to distinguish it from PSO. Keep that in mind.
- Compare the example image on this article with the one on Phantasy Star Online. Notice that everyone in the Zero artwork is grouped the same way as in the PSO picture. Examples
- Swiss Army Weapon: Gunblades, a broadsword with a built in handgun (or rifle) for those times when you just can't get close enough to hack and slash. Kai's favorite weapon type.
- Tomato in the Mirror: Ana reveals that Newmans are more alike to humans than originally thought, since their genetic code is highly similar to humans.
- Transformation Sequence: When Ogi gets himself a new body on the moon, he really likes it.
- Transforming Mecha: Humilias, made of the Dual Boss Chaos and Mobius.
- Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Newman characters lose their memory at the start of the game during the crash landing on earth. They spend most of the game struggling along with Sarisa in their decision to defy the newmans, but it turns out you were part of a newman resistance all along when you were on the moon. At least it kept you from spilling the beans.
- Turns Red: Reyburn does this, both tropewise and literally.
- Mother Trinity has a less colorful but more dramatic transformation into 'Pissy Boss' mode: she smashes her body against the platform you're fighting on, cracking her golden visage and revealing the machinery within.
- The plotline battle with Humilias counts, considering that it's a much, MUCH meaner version of Chaos and Moebius.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: The whole reason Mother Trinity went to war against the rest of the earth's society; she went into despair from the constant rejection of suggestions and plans she offered to the world leadership on how to repair the planetary environment. Dark Falz manifested in her, corrupting her mind, thus leading her to conclude that something needed to be done ... with force.
- Variable Mix: Another PSO feature brought back for Zero, with two additional variations for rare enemy battles and encounters with Ridiculously Cute Critters.
- The music that plays in Dairon City changes subtly depending on the race of your character.
- The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The Dark Shrine. And a surprisingly attractive one at that.
- Villainous Breakdown: Happens to Mother Trinity for different reasons based on your race. For Humans and Newmans, it essentially comes from being related in some fashion to powerful heroes that fought against her before. For CASTs, the fact that your character is the same Badass that fought her in the past, now returned after regaining your combat abilities (meaning her Photon Noise failed to affect you as extensively as it should have), is what causes her to breakdown.
- We Help the Helpless: Dairon City's Hunter's Guild does this as an official city service—the mayor is also the city's guild master.
- With This Herring: The CAST character's storyline essentially boils down to this. A grand hero before the Great Blank, you tear up Mother Trinity's shit like nothing else until she bails to Arca and Photon Noises Coral. Due to the aforementioned, you are forced to shut down to avoid a literal BSOD. Waking up in the present day, you show all the aftereffects of Photon Noise exposure and have to reprogram your combat skills from scratch. Mother Trinity is none too happy to find any of this out.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: The newmans of Zero get all the crazy hair colors.