Phantasy Star Online was a trail blazer of a game, bringing the MMORPG experience to home consoles for the first time. Starting on the Dreamcast, it later had releases on the Xbox, GameCube and PC. Less than a month ago, its sequel Phantasy Star Online 2 was released as a free-to-play MMORPG on PCs. It will be released outside of Japan early next year, but why wait? We here at Kotaku East have put together a guide to get you started playing today.
Step 1: Go to http://pso2.jp/
Step 2: Click on the blue hexagon button underneath the yellow SEGA ID hexagon on the left side of the screen.
Step 3: On the new page, click the picture of the space elf and the human to download the game client downloader.
Step 4: Double click on downloader.exe (the program you just downloaded).
Step 5: Choose a download location and click the bright blue button to start your 3.3 gig download.
Step 1: Go back to http://pso2.jp/
Step 2: Ok, time to create a SEGA ID account so you can log in to the game after the download is complete. Click the big yellow SEGA ID Button on the left side of the screen.
Step 3: A new window should open. In the blank box in the center, enter your email address.
Step 4: Close that window and go to your email inbox. Click the link in the middle of the mail you just received from SEGA.
Step 5: Fill out this page as shown in the picture and click the Next button (the button at the bottom).
[*Note: If you encounter a Japanese captcha box but don't have Japanese installed for your keyboard, you can copy and paste the Japanese letters from Wikipedia one by one to spell it out.]
Step 6: On the next page, check to see that your info is correct and then click the Next button at the bottom of the page (it's the top one of the two). If you made a mistake, click the other button.
Step 7: Congratulations, you now have a SEGA ID account, but don't close this window yet. First we have to give your new account permission to play Phantasy Star Online 2; so click that button near the bottom of the page.
Step 8: This new list is a page of all the games that use the SEGA ID service. Phantasy Star Online 2 is written in Japanese, but you'll find it right below MJ.NET for PC. Click the gray button under the PSO2 link to activate it on your account.
Step 9: "Read" the licensing agreement and click the left button.
Step 10: All right. Your SEGA ID account is made and you're authorized to play PSO2. Close this window and wait for your download in part 1 to finish (if it hasn't already).
Step 1: When the download is complete you should have three new icons. Double-click on PSO2-SETUP.exe to start the installation.
Step 2: Click the Next button (the left one).
Step 3: In the next window, click the top circle to accept the licensing agreement and then click the Next button (the center one).
Step 4: Choose your install location and then click Next (the middle button).
Step 5: Choose the name of the program group and click Next (the middle button).
Step 6: Click the middle button to start your installation.
Step 7: Click the only button you can click when the installation finishes.
Step 1: Click on the "PHANTASY STAR ONLINE 2" icon on your desktop.
Step 2: This is the launcher. Click the top button to download needed patches and start the game. *Note, the patching may take a while—especially the first time. Be patient and wait.
Step 3: When the patch is finished installing, click the box that appears and wait as the game boots up. *Note: it may look like it's doing nothing. It not. Just wait.
Step 4: Watch the intro movie.
Step 5: Press enter.
Step 6: Click the button on the left to begin.
Step 7: Click the top button that says "SEGA ID."
Step 8: Choose your ship (server).
Step 9: On the next screen enter your SEGA ID in the top box and your password in the second.
Step 10: Click the top button to choose a character.
Step 11: Make your character and enjoy.
Update: Readers have informed me that "Ship 2" has the majority of the English speaking population.
Update 2: If you encounter a Japanese captcha box but don't have Japanese installed for your keyboard, you can copy and paste the Japanese letters from Wikipedia one by one to spell it out.
To get some more info on making a character, tweeking your video settings, or just getting started in the game, check out this handy set of guides.
If you're having any problems with the game crashing or not working properly, check out this forum for some helpful answers.
Phantasy Star Online 2 was released on July 4, 2012, on the PC in Japan and will be released outside of Japan early next year. Stay tuned to Kotaku East for the import preview later this week.