Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds is a fighting game with a retro feel and it released this summer on PSN. Some of you probably bought the game already, for those of you who didn’t; I reviewed Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds and here are my thoughts.
Phantom Breaker is a very popular Japanese fighting game that never saw a Western release. Developer 5pb created a spin-off called Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds and released the game first on XBLA. Luckily for us, they decided to release the game on PS Vita as well. It’s a scaled down version of the original Phantom Breaker in every way possible, for example, the graphics are given a retro look and the characters are in ‘chibi’ form. Chibi means the characters are short, almost childish versions of themselves.
Does this mean Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds feels like a rushed and/or mediocre game? Let’s find out!
Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds features, like almost all fighting games, a predictable story. You are a part of the Kumon family who dedicated their lives to protect the world from Phantom, the leader of a mysterious organization. His powers are sealed but he wants them back, to achieve this he kidnapped your sister Nagi and it is your task to free her from Phantom’s grasp. The story is told through various cutscenes between stages. It’s a simple plot but it serves it’s purpose; keeping you interested and motivated to complete the stages in order to rescue your sister.
When you start the game it becomes clear it’s a game made by Japanese developers. Instead of using the X-button you have to use the O-button to navigate through the menu. This is something that you have to get used to as it cannot be changed. It is advisable to read the how-to section before you start playing as this offers good insight in the battle system and is very useful for when you want to tackle the higher difficulty settings. In short, the game uses the four symbol buttons for attacks, the right trigger for outrage attacks and the left trigger for switching lanes; the battles take place on two lanes in a stage.
The first stage is a tutorial level and is very easy to complete by just mashing buttons. Your character is very strong in this stage which makes it the best place to practice different combos. Knowing how to play Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds is a must and it’s also a lot more fun. When you finish the first stage you will lose all your powers and you need to get them back by earning experience. From now on the game starts to become a little more difficult. Good use of combos and having knowledge of the battle system combined with earning experience to become stronger is what makes Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds a lot more exciting.
The story takes you through eight stages and two bonus locations, all of the locations are very colorful and highly detailed considering the artstyle. There is a lot happening on the screen when you’re fighting multiple enemies but it’s never too much. You keep a good overview of what’s happening, I have played fighting games that would be jealous of this so kudos to 5pb and Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds. Although small, all characters look detailed enough to keep them unique and they’re customizable as well.
The chiptune soundtrack is amazing, it doesn’t get boring and fits perfectly considering the artstyle and genre of the game. There’s nothing to complain about the voice-acting either, it’s Japanese only but this gives a bit of authenticity a game like this needs. The soundtrack, special effects and graphics are a unity and give Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds the finishing touch.
The storyline in Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds is short and can become boring when you’re determined to gain maximum experience for your characters. The game starts with a selection of four characters to choose from but when you complete higher difficulties you’ll unlock some more. You can also gain experience by playing the arcade mode, here you’ll play on the story stages but now you’re aiming for highscores. This is another to reason to keep playing.
When you’re done with the story mode there is also a multiplayer mode. You can choose between a co-op mode and a versus mode. Co-op mode is where you can tackle the story mode with other players and the versus mode is the place to beat up other players. These modes can be played offline using the Ad-hoc functionality of the PS Vita or play online. You have to be lucky when you want to play online, it’s usually only a couple of players and you’ll find yourself spending more time looking for players than actually playing the game as intended.
Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds is a great fighting game with colorful graphics and a great soundtrack. The story is a bit short but you can keep coming back beating your own high scores or take on players online. Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds and PS Vita are a great match and if you like the retro look and the feel of an old-school fighter this is a must have!