Written by: Ifakoya English
Another entry within my rather extensive rpg game library Phantom Brave is another one of those games that makes me believe it is perfect, even though it is far out of my usual “I WILL KILL EVERYTHING THAT MOVES!” RPG style of gaming. This game is one of the most innocent, and heartwarming adventures I’ve ever had the odd pleasure of playing. I’m not saying that this game doesn’t have at least one small reward for a person that’s petty, abusive, and a psychopathic maniac. I’m saying that it’s more rewarding not to be. Being a maniac in this game is simply to gain control of something you want, and then you instantly go back to being the paragon of good will. It’s rare for me to enjoy games like that, as I happen to like being a petty, puppy-kicking, steal anything that isn’t nailed down, pyromaniac and what other choices most rpgs give. Phantom Brave somehow takes that from me and actually makes me put value on being a good guy. I should hate it for that, but I don’t.
Phantom Brave is the kind of story that is capable of putting a smile on your face on those late nights where you decide to say screw you to the sandman, and stare at a bright glowing screen for hours on end. Following the trials of Marona, and her main phantom buddy Ash (I want a main phantom buddy, as long as it isn’t the paranormal activity one). Players will experience how a pretty innocent girl, and a dead man deal with life in a world that doesn’t trust them, and…happens to be under threat of being attacked by an ancient demon. That is normal though since all rpg(s) pretty much have some ancient force threatening to rip life apart, or some new threat that models itself on an old threat about to rip life apart. Now Phantom Brave seems rather ordinary if you simply look at the story given, but I never let ordinary sounding things stop me from experiencing them. Life would be boring if I did and I’d miss out on some wonderful movies. Really this game provides enough excitement and fun to keep you interested, and the way the story is done isn’t half-bad either. I actually loved the characters, the back-story, and the story which is hard to do since developers tend to focus on only one or two of those.
In this game however even the generic people you encounter seem to elicit a reaction whether it be pure confusion, or even hated since people in this world seem to fall into the “You have cool powers? GO DIE!” group of generic citizens who have little intelligence (Seriously? How could you not love someone who can summon superheroes?)
The game also features a soundtrack that is actually very well done, though if you’re like me you won’t listen to most of it, because this game works well with outside music. Still, this game’s soundtrack does fit well with the emotions and I’d suggest listening for a little bit before going to listen to whatever pop, rap, rock, jazz music you have waiting in the background. You won’t regret it. The Voice actors and seiyū are actually very proficient at emoting, and present a joy to listen to in either language, which is also very uncommon because normally English dubs make me cringe. I still mostly go with Japanese because it just feels right seeing as how this is still a JRPG.
By far the best thing about this game is the combat; I can’t describe how much I love the combat in this game. This game is centered on a concept called “confining” which is basically summoning… only you have to confine to objects. This presents a level of strategy and focus as items often determine how long your spirit will last, and what bonuses it will have. The environments even come into play and can remove your spirits from play if you mess up. There are environments that are slippery, bouncy, or just plain and you have to be careful how you handle them. There are a multitude of classes to confine from your standard warrior, to dragons without wings, to even penguins [which are actually from other Nippon Ichi games] all of which have uses and bonuses to using them. The main hub of the game can even be used for making a pretty “lifelike” environment where you can talk to these spirits to get some pretty useless and confusing dialogue, but they at random offer bonuses and some act as shops. That is pretty cool.
Now, this game is easily breakable, and odds are you will end up doing so, but it doesn’t detract from the awesomeness of the actual game itself.
The bad thing about this game is that the level design is a bit bland, though diverse, they are interesting in their effects, and they are boring to look at. That is really the only issue I have with the game despite it being pretty easy, but that was my own fault.
If you still own a ps2 and haven’t played it…it is worth a go, especially if you like Nippon’s other games. They come into play even here.
Game Title: Fantomu Bureibu [ファントム・ブレイブ]English Game Title:Phantom Brave Developed AND published by: Nippon Ichi Software Systems: PlayStation 2, Wiii, PlayStation Portable Released: Playstation 2: 2004 [JP AND EU] and 2005 [EU]; Wii: 2009 [JP AND EU]; PlayStation Portable: 2010 [JP] and 2011 [NA AND EU] Game Genre: Tactical role-playing game
For now, it stays my go to game when I feel like I need a break from being a maniac.