Phantasy Star Zero (PS0) is a on- and offline action RPG for the Nintendo DS. Taking inspiration from both Phantasy Star Online and Universe, PS0 is a new beginning for the franchise. Phantasy Star Zero takes place on an alternate Earth 200 years after the “Great Blank,” a massive war that has reduced the once-prosperous civilization to almost nothing. The surviving Humans have worked hard to exist peacefully and have rebuilt thriving cities. Those that adventure past the outskirts of these cities, Hunters, explore the vast wilderness and hunt dangerous monsters in an effort to keep their cities safe. Players will take up the role of the Hunters and select from three types of races, classes and gender for a total of 14 customizable character types. Each character type will provide a unique experience and give players access to a great range of items, armor and weapons.
Over 350 unique weapons, gamers will need to venture out to combat dangerous monsters, gain experience and meet new major characters. As players explore, they will unravel the mystery of the “Great Blank” and discover a dangerous new force that must be stopped. Featuring both wireless and full Wi-Fi multiplayer options, Phantasy Star Zero takes advantage of the touch screen capabilities of the Nintendo DS and the new Visual Chat feature. Gamers can now design their own Visual Chat commands that can be saved and used in multiplayer modes. These Visual Chat commands will be displayed as “text bubbles” above the user’s character, enabling easy and fun graphical communication when adventuring with friends.
Character creation consists of choosing your character's race, gender, and class, then customizing the character's look and name. The character's look or name may be changed at the game mode select screen.
Phantasy Star Zero has three playable races: Humans, CASTs, and Newmans.
- Humans. The most numerous and versatile of the three. Humans may be Hunters, Rangers, or Forces. They are listed as the race best for beginning players.
- CASTs. Androids with high attack power, HP, and accuracy. CASTs may be Hunters or Rangers. They can use traps, but cannot use Techniques (magic). They can also see and destroy traps in mission areas, and are also immune to poison. CASTs regain HP over time.
- Newmans. A mysterious race that are skilled with Techniques. Newmans may be Hunters or Forces. They have high Technique power and evasion, but low defense and HP. Newmans regain Photon Power (PP) over time. They are considered to be suitable for advanced players.
There are three basic class types in PS0: Hunter, Ranger, and Force. Hunter is a melee class, Ranger a ranged gun-using class, and Force the spell-caster and support class. These basic types combine with the three races and two genders to form the fourteen classes available.
- HUmar - a well-balanced melee class. Can also use some attack, healing, and buffing Techniques.
- HUmarl - similar to the HUmar, but with lower attack, but higher accuracy. Can use the same Techniques as the HUmar.
- RAmar - a balanced ranged class. Can also use some attack, healing, and debuffing Techniques.
- RAmarl - like the RAmar, but with lower attack, but higher accuracy. Can use the same Techniques as the RAmar.
- FOmar - a balanced Technique user. Can also use melee attacks at higher levels. Can use all Techniques.
- FOmarl - a balanced Technique user. Can use all Techniques.
- HUcast - a melee class with the highest attack and HP in the game. Like all CASTs, HUcasts cannot use Techniques.
- HUcaseal - a melee class with slightly less HP, defense, and attack than the HUcast, but with higher accuracy and evasion.
- RAcast - a strong ranged weapon class with high attack and HP.
- RAcaseal - a ranged class with lower attack than the RAcast, but with the highest accuracy of any class.
- HUnewm - a versatile Hunter class who can use striking weapons and Techniques well. While Newman Hunters have the lowest HP, defense, and attack power of the three races, they have the highest evasion.
- HUnewearl - similar to the HUnewm, but with lower attack, defense, and HP. Has the highest Evasion of any class.
- FOnewm - a Technique-using class with high Tech power and Photon Points. Can use all Techniques in the game. Has a bonus to all attack Techniques. Low HP and defense.
- FOnewearl - the Technique-using class with the highest Tech power and PP. Can use all Techniques.
Techniques are special abilities that use Photon Power to do damage, heal, buff, or debuff. Techniques are what would be called magic in other games, however the Phantasy Star series has something called 'magic' which is different than Techniques. Casts are unable to use techniques in the Phantasy Star universe, but still have a Photon Points gauge that is used for special attacks called "Photon Arts", associated with most weapons.
Techniques can be charged by holding the button down. Charging a Technique will usually lead to a stronger AoE ability.
- Foie - a single-target fire attack. Has a chance to Burn enemies.
- Zonde - an electric attack. Has a chance to Paralyze enemies.
- Barta - an ice attack which can hit multiple targets in a line. Has a chance to Freeze enemies.
- Grants - a light element attack which, while slow to cast, does good damage. Has a chance to Confuse enemies.
- Megid - a dark elemental attack. Has a chance to Poison enemies. Unlike in previous games, Megid can no longer inflict instant death.
Note: Charged support techniques can affect allies
Anti - Cures status problems. When charged, revives fallen allies (replaces Reverser)
- Resta - Restores HP
- Shifta - Enhances attack power temporarily.
- Deband - Enhances defense temporarily.
- Jellen - Lowers an enemy's attack power temporarily.
- Zalure - Lowers an enemy's defense temporarily.
The highest level Technique that each class can use is given in the table below:
- Double Saber
- Gun Blade
- Laser Cannon
- Mech Gun
There are actually three different stories in Phantasy Star 0, and the perspective and telling vary depending on which race the player selects. Some backstory is revealed by activating "recordings" in the field, but these are random (in multiplayer, each player may get a different message from the same recording), and talk about enemy specifics more often than story events.
Even in the single-player campaign, AI companions are available for missions, with availability dependent on the story. Although they can revive each other, if the player is killed, they will not only fail to revive the player, but will cease battling and wait to be killed.
Any of the areas that the player has completed in single-player can be accessed in multiplayer from the Quest Counter. Although there is no multiplayer campaign, there are multiple variations of each level (such as changes to level enemies and bosses) available by selecting "Take a Quest" from the quest counter instead of travelling to the levels directly via "Access Field". As in previous multiplayer versions of games in the Phantasy Star series, levels of difficulty are not unlocked based on the character's level, but upon defeating the boss and completing the single-player campaign. It is quite possible for a player to play online exclusively, including the hardest levels, and still have only the first quest (on "Normal" difficulty) available at the Quest Counter.
Although it seems counter-intuitive, the game is set up to allow the player to connect to the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection and create and play alone in a single-player online game, presumably to obtain better (or seasonal or event-specific) loot.
Visual Chat can be used when playing DS-to-DS over local wireless or using Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection in Friends Only mode, but only preset words and phrases can be used in "Free Play" with other random (non-friend code) players. There is no support for the DS headset.