I ended up going forward with playing a HUmar (human hunter), despite servo’s recommendation. I was already leaning toward this decision, but big pushed me over the edge by recalling how he thought it was boring to stand back and time shots. I agree. I like to be in the thick of the battle, at least in PSO. You not only have to take more hits, but you actually get to see enemies close up and in greater detail. You see their attack animations more often too. Sure, some of the rifles and shotguns look pretty awesome, but the same goes with the giant swords and halberds.
As I started the game up, I was assaulted by nostalgia. The music, the menu, the character creation process, everything about it triggered memories of the times I first played it. Remember that load screen where you could move the little light thing around? Of course you do. I decided to give my hunter a pony tail, turquoise hair and a black costume. It felt a little bittersweet to see “online mode” and “download quests”. What a shame that many games, where online was a big part of the experience, can never be experienced in their native state again. I’m reading War and Peace, which was published in 1869. I probably enjoy and appreciate it just as much as people did back then. But PSO? Someone that didn’t grow up with Dreamcast can never enjoy its online presence. They’ll simply never know. It’s too bad, since many mid-90s PC games still have an online presence.
Running around the classic, beautiful city of Pioneer II was fun. It’s small, but that simplicity is a nice change of pace. Every game seems to try to provide bigger and more detailed cities. That can be fun, when I want to be completely immersed in that world’s realism. But sometimes the smaller area is actually a better experience. You become familiar with each NPC standing around, the architecture, the signs, the cityscape in the background. I remember I used to hang around in town, looking at the towering buildings and all their lights, contemplating the world of PSO. Take a game like Assassin’s Creed, with big, sprawling cities. Nothing stood out to me. They served their purpose, and did so very well, but going back to the same area over and over breeds a familiarity that will eventually blossom into sentimental memories. Purple, green, blue and orange vendors. If you played PSO, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The Principle’s office. The medical bay. The hunter’s lounge. The bank. The two guards standing watch near the portal, with the door that automatically raises. Those automatic doors are pulled off perfectly. They open at just the right moment, make just the right sound, and have just the right animation. It all just feels right, in the same way the gait of PSO characters does too. They walk and run at just the right pace and heft.
Aesthetically, it still looks pretty good, especially through VGA. This game looked so incredibly beautiful to me when it was released, POLYGONS, it’s nice to look at it again and remember those feelings. Kids these days will never be able to experience what we did. Watching videos of PSO, Skies of Arcadia and Grandia II is what convinced me to buy a Dreamcast in the first place. The games looked so beautiful, fun and in-depth that I just had to have them. All three have aged pretty well.
I’ve already played three hours, but I’m going to have to split this into another entry. Next up will be the tales of the forest, my journies in questing, and an encounter with a dragon.