Sega has unveiled its carefully orchestrated beta test plans for Phantasy Star Online Episode III: C.A.R.D. Revolution (they'll never fit that on Japanese Cube packaging). According to various sources, the first 10,000 punters to pre-order the game from Sega Direct in Japan will also receive a free trial version, featuring offline and online scenarios and all the planned communication features of the full game.
The first beta versions will be sent out on July 24th, and the test runs until August 31st, but apparently sign-ups are open until the game hits 10,000 pre-orders. Great news if you're reading this in Japan on July 29th. Unfortunately for you, though, your save data from the trial version won't work with the full retail release due out later in the year. Sorry about that! What's more, Mr. Japanese Reader, a Hunter's Licence for Episode III will set you back 600 yen for 30 days, or 1500 yen for 90, with no free trial period!
As for the rest of us; with the Japanese release due out at the end of the year and American and European pricing structures yet to be announced, it's going to be a while before anything exciting happens. We'll try and let you know if it D.O.E.S.