The Dreamcast was a brief but shining aberration in the gaming world. Coming along years after Sega had fallen out of its position as a top-runner in the console market, it represented the company’s last-ditch attempt to reclaim its former glory. While it failed to succeed in that respect and ultimately closed up shop in 2001 (ending Sega’s interest in the console market), the Dreamcast became a gaming cult favorite responsible for some of the most innovative titles ever made. Games like Jet Grind Radio, Space Channel 5, and Shenmue have remained fan favorites long after the Dreamcast’s demise, which shows the legacy that these dev teams left behind.
But perhaps the Dreamcast’s greatest gift to the gaming world wasn’t crazy taxis or space dancing but a surprisingly forward-looking approach to online gaming. In 2000, the Dreamcast took the first steps to bringing an online console RPG to market, and while it wasn’t a true MMO, it certainly paved the way for titles like EverQuest Online Adventures and Final Fantasy XI.
It was bold, it was addictive, and it was gosh-darned gorgeous. Ladies and gentlemen: Phantasy Star Online.
Massively OP reader Francois recently pointed us to IGN’s Top 100 RPGs of All Time, which we thought was worth a nod since unlike many such lists, it includes several early MMORPGs: including EverQuest (100), EVE Online (81), Phantasy Star Online (63), and of course, World of Warcraft (5), plus other multiplayer games we’ve covered in the past, like Diablo II, Titan Quest, Torchlight II, Stardew Valley, Neverwinter Nights, and more Ultima, Elder Scrolls, and Final Fantasy franchise games than you can shake an ancient console cartridge at.
But I can’t help but feel as if the MMOs that were included were added more for their saturation and fame and ubiquitousness during a certain time period than for their actual quality as RPGs, especially once you apply IGN’s rubic, which mentions requirements like story, combat, and presentation. I bet gamers with more experience in the breadth of MMOs could come up with a few more examples — maybe even a few made sometime after 2004 too, yeah?
Which MMOs would you include among the greatest RPGs of all time?
Have you ever noticed that while there’s an entire world out there, most all of the MMORPGs we discuss and play tend to either be ones crafted in the USA or imports from China or Korea? We even have a shorthand for this: “western” and “eastern” MMOs. We’re usually not talking about entire hemispheres with these references, but rather about categorizing three countries that are big into the MMORPG business.
But what about the rest of the world? Are all of these other countries so uncaring about this genre that they’ve never tried their hand at making an MMO? Of course not; as I’m about to show you, there are plenty of online RPGs that have been made in countries other than China, the USA, and South Korea. It’s just that for various reasons, those three countries ended up fostering concentrations of video game developers who knew how to create these types of games.
So let’s take a tour around the world and see if we can’t give some credit to other countries for their contributions to the MMORPG genre past, present, and future. Before you click the link, see how many you can name off the top of your head!
After over a month of voting and counting down, we’ve arrived at the final six picks for your favorite MMORPG theme songs of all time. It’s been absolutely illuminating seeing the formation of this list and the placement of certain tracks, and I’m glad that everyone who wanted to got to participate.
Before I reveal the top six themes, here are a few honorable mentions:
Are you ready? I know I am! Here we go!
Phantasy Star Online 2 is five years old, but anyone who wants to play the game in North America without downloading an unofficial English patch is still out of luck. The introduction of the Southeast Asia localized version was a bit of a hope spot for those still hoping for a localized release, but that was a couple of years ago now. Also, that version of the game is being shuttered as of May 26th, so that’s not exactly a good sign for people hoping for an eventual export.
No reasons are cited for the shutdown, just that the service contract with Sega is coming to an end and players will be unable to spend any more actual money on the game as of April 21st. Free premium time is being granted to all accounts in light of the shutdown. Our sympathy goes out to all players affected by the shutdown of this version of the game; it’s worth noting that the original Japanese servers are still running with no sign of stopping.
First things first: No, there is no announcement about any sort of release for Phantasy Star Online 2 in the west. For now, the sci-fi MMO continues to be exclusive to the east, although there is an English patch to help players who jump regions in an attempt to play the game.
YouTuber TheLazyPeon recently took a look at Phantasy Star Online 2 to answer the question, “Is it worth playing?” After putting in a few hours, he at least deduced that it was not a game for him. He was impressed with the character customization but said that game felt clunky and sluggish while coming across as a little dated.
If you can’t play it, you can at least watch it, so see what you see after the jump!
One of the most common questions that I’m asked from my adoring throngs on the street is, “Justin, where oh where can I get some of these marvelous MMO soundtracks that you talk about all of the time?” OK, that just never happens (on the street, that is), but people are often curious how they can go about starting to amass an MMO soundtrack collection or where to find their favorite album.
The sad truth is that so much music from these games is never officially released in any capacity, which is why I scour YouTube for fan rips of the music files. However, every so often I do discover a studio release somewhere, and I try to keep an up-to-date log on these to help others in their quest for video game scores.
So in the spirit of Christmas and sharing, today I’m going to show you how you can get your ears on more than 120 soundtracks and scores from MMOs, MOBAs, and other online titles — some of which are free and legal for the taking. You’re welcome; don’t mention it!
One of the great things about MMORPGs is that you can live out fantasies that are otherwise unobtainable for you in real life. Financial success? Sure. A perfect, sculpted body? Why not. Incredible musical talent? Toss it in there, my friend!
ToyFuzion is living the dream in Black Desert: “I squealed with delight when I saw that player instruments (a guitar!) had been added recently. Before, you could rent them from NPCs and do mini-games with them, but their use was very limited. These can be played anywhere — even walk around with them! Had to get a screenie of my character and her clownie homies.”
Apologies if this adds to the “clown hysteria” sweeping the world right now.
Any time I see someone post an MMO screenshot from older games, I feel like it benefits the historical record by adding another visible memory from classic games to the archive. So thank you to everyone who dug through their folders to find pictures from our “then and now” challenge.
Ralph the Wonder Llama takes the cake with his entry: “Back in the summer of 2005, I decided to give a new game called Guild Wars a try. My first character was a Warrior/Ranger named Sonja. I had envisioned her as a tall, nature themed, Nordic warrior who had traveled south from her homeland in search of adventure. Now it’s 2016, and I’m playing a Guardian in Guild Wars 2. She’s a tall Norn warrior named Sonja who has traveled south from her homeland in search of adventure. Funny how that worked out. Here are a couple screenshots from the city of Rata Sum, then and now. My, how the neighborhood has grown!”
Does NCsoft show any signs of stopping? Any hint whatsoever of slowing down? Or are we already seeing the birth of a future worldwide megacorp that will service all of your gaming needs from the cradle to the grave (and beyond, with new SavePoint™ technology)?
It doesn’t appear that the game publisher is losing momentum, at least. NCsoft recently opened a new mobile games subsidiary in Japan called Lionship Studio and is on the prowl for promising talent to staff its future projects.
Lionship Studio is being led by Sega veteran Yojiro Ogawa, who previously worked on Phantasy Star Online. Last November, NCsoft established a mobile games studio in California named Iron Tiger.
If you were to think of Sega and MMOs, chances are the only thing that would come to mind is the Phantasy Star Online franchise. While those are great games (even though we’ll probably never see PSO2 in the west!), there was another MMO that Sega dabbled in during the boom years of the online gaming industry.
This game was 10six: a hybrid of real-time strategy and sci-fi shooter, played out over a persistent multiplayer world. While 10six had a very short run initially, it still lives on for the fans who find this mix of gameplay compelling and unique.
Base building and blasting, doesn’t that sound fun? Let’s go back in time to the late ’90s and early 2000s to see what 10six was all about.
Are you eager to play Phantasy Star Online 2? Wait, scratch that; the ship has pretty well sailed on that and most of the people excited to play it have found ways around its failure to ever launch in the West. Were you eager to play Phantasy Star Online 2? Because you can get some of the flavor by playing Final Fantasy XIV… or at least you will get some of the flavor once its upcoming crossover event with FFXIV is live.
The summer events will allow PSO2 players to dress up in various FFXIV-inspired outfits, including the male and female miqo’te sets and artifact armor for several jobs, while also revealing some moogle-themed decorations for the game. Players will also be able to challenge the wandering primal Odin. Not up to fighting him? Too bad; he will also randomly show up and start smashing you in other missions because Odin is kind of a jerk like that. Check out a video showing off all of the features just below, and keep your eyes peeled for whatever may come to Eorzea by way of reciprocation (the FFXIV portion of the crossover has not yet been revealed or finalized).
True fact: One of the earliest attempts to screenshot the action in an MMORPG took place as prehistoric cave paintings in France. Another true fact: I might have dreamed that up.
“Here is a shot of my Blood Elf warlock staying warm by a fire alongside the Frostwolf Clan in World of Warcraft’s Frostfire Ridge zone,” Tyler sent to us. “Frostfire and its associated storyline are just about the only part of Warlords of Draenor I unequivocally like. I think we’re all a little burnt out on Orcs by now, but Frostfire was a good reminder that Orcs are indeed awesome, even if they’re a little over-exposed in WoW nowadays. I really like the tribal paintings on the cave walls in this shot. Nice touch.”
We’re burned out on Orcs? Then what am I going to do with these 15,000 boxes of Orc-Os cereal that I was planning to resell on eBay? Crud.