Looking for a Scott Pilgrim like experience for your Vita? Wait no more, Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds is now available on the Playstation Vita. Phantom Breaker is a great side scrolling brawler experience featuring 4 playable kawaii girls and Kurisu from Steins Gate as DLC. Published by the newly founded 5pb games USA localization team, this one of their first attempts at localization so be nice and hopefully they localize more titles for the western fans.
Phantom Breaker takes place Tokyo, Japan, a man by the name of Phantom is working in secret to gain back his sealed power. To gain back his sealed power, he gives weapons to girls with the promise of fulfilling their wishes. Little do the girls know that these weapons are extremely power and are able to rip holes between the real world and the shadow world. Phantom takes advantage of these gaps between the two worlds to retrieve fragments of his lost power.
To prevent Phantom from ever gaining his former power, the Kumon family works to stop Phantom before he regains his power. Waka the daughter of the Kumon head and her accomplice Mikito take up the task of defeating and stopping Phantom before it’s too late. Later on Waka and Mikito meet, Itsuki a maid and Yuzaha a ninja that saw through Phantom’s lies, the four girls team up to stop and defeat Phantom. Phantom Breaker has a minimal story but it is interesting none the less, as a 2D brawler I didn’t expect anything too deep or serious.
There are a total of nine playable characters in Phantom Breaker, four of them are available in the beginning of the game, one as DLC and the other four are unlockable in game. Kurisu from Steins Gate is the DLC character that is available for a fee of course. The DLC not only includes Kurisu but also ups the level cap from 50 to 99. Keep that in mind if you are trying to max out every characters skill and stats tree but we’ll get to that later.
There are four gameplay modes in Phantom Breaker, Story Mode, Arcade Mode, Co-Op mode and Battle Grounds Mode. Story mode is composed of 7 stages including stage 0 that is technically a tutorial stage but is required to play through even when going back to replay the story mode. The bright side is that the tutorial isn’t anything tedious, you go to feel the controls for yourself and you are able to beat up enemies that are easy to defeat. Arcade Mode is the same as Story Mode but its intent is to have the player to speed run all the stages and to beat their previous high scores. Co-Op mode sort of like arcade mode but with the option to play with your friends online or through Ad-Hoc. Finally we got Battle Grounds, arguably the best mode in the game, a free for all, where the goal is to beat everyone up online or through Ad-Hoc.
Every character has their own play style and each player can choose which character to main that best suits his or hers play style. There are four different methods of attack, the basic three are the standard, weak, medium and hard attack. The fourth method of attack is called SP, also known as your special attack. Different button combinations perform different attacks which actually gives depth to Phantom Breaker, as opposed of being a simple button masher brawler. Using SP moves builds the players Super SP meter, the player is able to use their meter whenever they want but higher meter will obviously deal more damage. If the player is able to max out the meter, the player is able to perform a Super Special finishing move that will deal tons of damage that is ideal for fighting bosses.
The maximum level that a character can go up to is 50, but as I stated before if you decide to purchase the DLC, the max level is increased to 99. Along with leveling your character, you are able to level up your skills and stats. Your skills are unlockable through a skill tree and your stats are just a standard point assignment system. As you level up you are given points, each skill and stat increase cost a certain number of points. As the player learns more skills and builds their stats, the cost will increase. When the player is capped at level 50, the player is left with a tough decision to assign what stats and skills he or she needs to better suit their needs. If you purchase the DLC though, you will be able to completely max out the skill tree and stats.
The amount of replay value in Phantom Breaker is amazing, and I never felt bored while playing through the stages as the game only becomes more challenging.
Phantom Breaker features very nice 2D anime sprites, which are nice on the eyes. This is a must for a brawler with tons of replay value. The colors really pop on the Vita screen, OLED or not. There are levels that are very bright and some that are darker, but they never once felt disturbing to the eye. This is a godsend considering Scott Pilgrims colors were very grim and didn’t really pop. Phantom Breaker also runs at a smooth 60 frames per second, which kept the gameplay buttery smooth. There was one instance of a slowdown on stage 6, where I encountered a hoard of enemies but I didn’t encounter another fps drop the second time I go to that same exact part of the game.
Phantom Breaker also boasts a very catchy 8bit sound track, which always feels upbeat, which in turn keeps the player going. Stage 5 having the best track, really kept me going and sometimes even nodding my head to the music.
All in all, Phantom Breaker is a very solid game with tons of replay value. 5pb games really did a good job of porting this game to the Vita, with minimal frame stutters and tight controls Phantom Breaker truly is a game to play on the go or for short bursts. This was also 5pb USA’s second localized title, the first being Corpse Party for the iOS. With 5pb now breaking into the North American and European markets, hopefully this paves the way for more 5pb titles from Japan. I recommend this game to anyone looking to have a blast on their Vita. Phantom Breaker is readily available in the North American and European PSN stores.
Who should play this?
· Anyone looking for a 2D brawler experience on their Vita
· a type of gamer that likes 100% games
· anyone that likes tons of replay value
· Kurisu fans (me)
Who should avoid this?
· Anyone looking for a serious story mode
· Players that don’t like grinding for skills or stats