The online DS RPG will borrow heavily from Phantasy Star Online, won't support voice chat, and launches in Japan on Christmas.
Two weeks ago, Sega announced that they were bringing the Phantasy Star Online franchise, which came to the Nintendo GameCube console last generation as Phantasy Star Online Ep. 1 & 2, to the Nintendo DS. Since then, new information has emerged about the upcoming online DS RPG.
The race and class combo system of the earlier GameCube titles will return. According to the game's homepage, Phantasy Star Zero will support fourteen different race-class combinations, up from 12 in the GameCube games. The website also provides a December 25 date as the planned Japanese release for the title.
An interview with Producer Satoshi Sakai in the September 20 issue of Nintendo Dream also provided more details about the impending title. According to Sakai, the choice to develop the game for the DS platform was made to broaden the age range of players for the game. It was given the title "Zero" to signify that this was a new start for the series, and thus the game borrows more heavily from the GameCube titles than the recent Phantasy Star Universe PC game. However, the story will not be connected to any previous Phantasy Star Online game.
Sakai explained that Phantasy Star Zero will not support voice chat, nor the symbol chat from earlier games. Instead, players will have the option to chat by drawing images onto the touchscreen of the DS and sending that to fellow players. Sakai suggested that players would be able to play with people they hadn't met online, but he did not detail how this would be allowed, or whether the game would use friend codes.