That's not a very solid argument, since the games you're defending depend specifically on the brand and popularity of the original games, whose characteristics can't be questioned. Those games came first and established everything PSO/PSU are built on. The ones that have to get the nature of the series right are the ones that follow, not the originators.PSO and PSU may not be direct sequels to Phantasy Star IV, but they still have many of the characteristics required to make them be Phantasy Star games. As for your example of removing names, items, setting, etc. from PSO/PSU, what would remain of Phantasy Star IV if you changed the characters names, the setting, the names of items and spells, the enemies, etc.? You'd be left with a generic turn based RPG that would feel nothing like Phantasy Star.
I have several problems with this though. First, the actual gameplay itself doesn't change online. The game doesn't control one way offline and another online, so it's essentially the same thing either way. Second, you have to PAY monthly to access all those extra episodes and content that make a full storyline and develop characters. I don't have an Xbox Live subscription, so the only way I can experience everything PSU has to offer is to spend $50 to get my 360 online and then pay a monthly fee on top of that. The original series gave you the entire story in one package for one price. I know the nature of online games is to make you pay as you go, but that's just another example of how different the new PS games are from the old and shouldn't be considered direct sequels or anything similar.And yes, the PSO/PSU games do change dramatically online. For example, in PSU there's 2 more episodes of single player story that's only available online that gives more character development and plot. There's also tons of side story quests that again give you more plot development.
You said above that Ambition of the Illuminus wasn't a new game. I get your meaning though, but again, it goes back to the extra content vs. complete package differences.As for no sequels, they did make them, it's called the expansion pack Ambition of the Illuminus which makes the online Episode 2 story available offline, and then there's the portable series which take place after Episode 3 of PSU and in between Episode 1 and 2 of PSU.
Well, no they didn't purposely try to alienate the fanbase, but just look at your explanation! People on different versions of the same games, version incompatibilities, different content on different platforms. How could anyone actually play all the PSO content without playing across several platforms? In contrast, the original games only required one game to own at a time. You didn't have people playing different versions of PSIV on different hardware. If you own PSIV, you own EVERYTHING that goes with it.And again, the different releases weren't done to alienate the fanbase. The reason for multiple releases has to do with the limitations that became evident of their platforms. You couldn't update PSO on consoles without releasing a new version on a new disc. Meaning you couldn't even patch bugs people were using to cheat and hack other players. They tried releasing new versions, but that didn't help the situation since you still had tons of people on the older versions. Finally they put it on PC and moved all player data to the servers. This fixed pretty much all the severe hacking and cheating issues but at the cost of making it incompatible with previous versions for obvious reasons. There were still plenty of people who moved to those versions.
This is more an issue of Sega not getting its act together with regards of how to move this franchise. They release a bunch of different versions on console and then move the series to portables. Console owners now have to pay to play all the online content or buy a whole new machine. Another problem is that once the servers go down, there goes your game. A traditional RPG can be replayed forever.
I will say that if Sega were to release a complete version of PSO for play on PSN, I'd buy it and play the hell out of it. It's all the PS love we're going to get, unless they decide to actually make a PSV, which we know will never happen.
I don't think everyone who played the original games just upped and moved online, specifically because of the differences I've mentioned. Again though, what options do they have now? Pay a ton to play PSU or buy the portable versions. Sega has indirectly alienated the fanbase by severely limiting access to the games. I don't own a Vita, so no PS for me. My only option is the PC version (which I'm considering, especially since it's free to play). If this is the direction they're going to keep the series going, then I really would like a dedicated console version.Before PSOBB came out there were thousands on GC and Xbox PSO. After PSOBB came out there were under 100 people still left on those versions as they had all moved to PSOBB. With PSU, there's well over 200,000 players on the US Xbox servers, and there were about that much on the US PC/PS2 servers as well. The Japanese servers have significantly more than that though. Considering that none of classic Phantasy Star titles ever sold over 1 million copies, I'd say it's safe to say that most of the Classic Phantasy Star fanbase was in fact playing PSO/PSU online.