Phantom Brave Review - The Next Level

Game Profile

System:
PlayStation 2
Release date:
August 31, 2004 (Japan)
Publisher:
Nippon Ichi
Developer:
Nippon Ichi
Players:
1
Genre:
RPG
ESRB:
RP

Phantom Brave

Nippon redefines the SRPG genre...again.

Review by Aaron Drewniak (Email)
August 4th 2004

The people of the island are troubled. Grinning, faceless floating blobs have appeared out of clouds of inky darkness, gibbering madly as they attack innocent villagers. Not even their bravest warriors can stand against them, so the village elders call upon the only monster exterminator they know they can trust... a little green-haired girl. But Marona isn't your run of the mill adolescent with an odd hair color and a sunny disposition. She has the power to summon the dead from their eternal rest in the form of phantoms. Phantoms which she can bind to virtually any object, giving them a body that can fight for the safety of their community and help Marona pay the rent on her own little island.

The leader of her undead strike force is Ash, a spiky-haired and scarf-wearing phantom that had also been a companion to the girl's parents before all three had died saving their world against demons, not unlike the foes they face now. Other allies will have to be called from the afterworld through Marona's special powers, and while there aren't many choices at the start, over fifty classes in the game are waiting to be unlocked by defeating them in battle.

It's hard to imagine what a group of blobs or a gang of surly bandits think when they're confronted by a little green-haired girl, by I wouldn't be surprised if they became at least a little apprehensive when their surroundings are suddenly transformed into an undead attack force. And if the phantoms didn't already come equipped for battle, the leftover objects can also serve as makeshift weapons. Even eccentric items like watering cans and gramophones can pack a mean punch in the right hands, especially when there's no such thing as magical earplugs.

Combat might cause a few flashbacks to geometry class. Movement is limited to a large circle that appears around the character, with a dotted line representing his or her path of travel. Unfortunately, the pathfinding in the game isn't as good as it could be and sometimes it'll take several tries to move the character where you want them to be. The range of an attack is defined by simple geometric shapes, such as cylinders, pyramids, and spheres. Any enemy falling within the boundaries these shapes will be subject to one of the more than hundred forms of retribution available, everything from getting knocked into the air and sliced in half with an axe to being used as a landing pad by a phantom air surfing on a cactus. You get the point.

Fans of Disgaea should be pleased that lifting and throwing make a return in Phantom Brave. Though you're no longer limited to simply tossing around friends and foes; weapons can now be shared with allies, or stolen from enemies, while the enemies themselves can be tossed right off the map or even used as weapons. My favorite attack is where an enemy is handed a giant bomb with a lit fuse and then shoved in the direction of his allies, giving new meaning to the term 'friendly fire.'

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