What happens in Phantasy Star stays in Phantasy Star

, | Games

This will probably sound as random to you as it sounded to me when I started playing a few days ago, but I’ve been playing Phantasy Star Portable 2, the PSP version of Phantasy Star Online that came out six months ago. I know, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. What I’m about to tell you after the jump makes even less sense. It’s even kind of, well, icky.

After the jump, eat your heart out, Second Life!

The Phantasy Star Online games played like a cross between a JRPG and Diablo. You’ve got serious videogame cred if you played them, especially on the Sega Dreamcast. Which I didn’t do, although I did get suckered out of nearly $300 because of a billing error for something called a Huner’s License on Xbox Live. Thanks, Microsoft. I hope that covers the eleven times you had saddled me with a broken Xbox 360!

But for reasons of peer pressure, I just started playing Phantasy Star Portable 2, which is a full-featured PSP action RPG, complete with leveling up your character, getting loot, learning new powers, shopping for different costumes, redecorating your quarters, etc., etc., etc. I have no idea what I was thinking jumping into yet another grind, particularly since there are so many great games on the PSP these days. But over the course of humoring a friend by joining him a few multiplayer sessions, Phantasy Star Portable morphed from a chore to a habit.

That’s how I found myself checking out the online community, which this time isn’t going to bilk me for a confusing monthly charge called a Hunter’s License. I was surprised to find plenty of folks playing, some of whom aren’t even up against the level cap (you can tell it’s an Asian RPG because the level cap is a three digit number).

Last night, while checking for pick-up groups, I found a party called “girls only”. My character is a girl, so I qualify. Perhaps there’s some sort of achievement for all female parties. I joined and immediately went to the mission terminal hoping to catch up with some sort of action in progress. However, there was no active mission. Where was everyone? Getting stocked up on healing potions and weapon upgrades and whatnot? There was no one in the shopping area. Could they be trading items in the cafe? Nope. Maybe there was something going on in the party host’s personal quarters. You can visit other people’s quarters in Phantasy Star Online 2, and I imagine some of them must be pretty inventively decorated, since apartment decorations are one of the game’s money sinks. Time to check out this high level character’s apartment.

When I enter, I see a chat bubble coming from the back room.

wat if u put it in the other hole?

What’s going on back there? Are they crafting?

I round the corner and there are three “girls” who have used the “sit on the floor” emote to form a pile of overlapping character models. What’s more, they have unequipped their armor and costumes, so they’re only wearing bikini underwear.

I sort of stand there, unsure how to proceed. This has never happened to me in real life, much less in a videogame. Do I excuse myself? Just disconnect? And how would one disconnect if one were so inclined? I stand there and fumble around with the menus trying to find the quickest exit while various unseemingly things are said in chat bubbles. I think at one point I accidentally triggered the wave animation, which must have sent the wrong signal given some of the things that were said to me in chat bubbles. It seems like a lot of work to type that stuff using the PSP’s keypad.

By the way, as near as I can tell, there is no crafting in Phantasy Star Portable 2 that involves assembling stuff by putting things into holes. I probably didn’t need to explain that to you. But just in case, I thought you should know.