Review – Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle
Publisher: NIS America
Developer:Nippon Ichi Software
Platform: PlayStation Portable (PSP)
Genre: Tactical Role-Playing Game
Rating: T – Teen
ESRB Descriptors: Blood, Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol
Purchase From: Amazon.com, GameStop, PlayStation Network
Official Website: http://nisamerica.com/games/phantombravepsp/
The Scoop: NIS brings back a favorite of many gamers with this re-release of the acclaimed 2004 tactics game, Phantom Brave, now on the PSP with more characters to crush one’s foes into oblivion!
The Setup: In Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle, you take on the role of a young teen by the name of Marona, a happy, optimistic girl who works as a Chroma, or bounty hunter/adventurer-for-hire. She posses the rare gift of the Chartreuse Gale, a power which lets Marona to speak with spirits and enlist their aid in battle. Her companion on her home of Phantom Isle is Ash, a phantom who worked as a Chroma with Marona’s parents. The three of them were on assignment when they were killed, and while Marona’s father tried to use his power to return Ash to life, it only succeed in returning Ash as a phantom, a spirit between life and death. In return, Ash has devoted himself to protecting Marona in her parent’s place. Life as a Chroma is difficult for Marona, and doubly so due to her power. Most people believe that because she can speak with things no one else can she must be possessed. Even people who hire her will many times not pay her for the work simply because they are frightened of her; however, Marona never allows the world to get her down, and soon begins winning allies and friends to her side, this just as the evil that killed her parents and Ash starts to resurface and threatens to wipe out Ivoire.
The battle system in Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle is quite unique. When the battle starts, the only character the player has is Marona. Marona must then summon in phantoms, like Ash, to fight for her. This is done by confining the phantom to an object on the battlefield, such as a rock or tree, or even a sword. When a phantom is confined to an object, the object that it is attached to will affect the stats of the phantom. So while a small bush might give an excellent magic bonus for one of the player’s mage phantoms, putting a warrior there might not be the best idea. Phantoms also have a limited number of turns in the battle once they are confined. Once those turns are up, the phantom vanishes and cannot be summoned again in that battle. Though when they vanish, they have a chance to take whatever they were confined to with them, which is the main way to gain new and powerful items for your fighters. Defeating some of the normal foes and quite a few of the bosses will then allow Marona to summon them as phantoms.
When not in battle, Marona and Ash spend their time on Phantom Isle, which functions as the game’s hub. While there, Marona can create new phantoms, buy items from merchant phantoms, or have healing phantoms patch up the party from the last battle. The Dungeon Monk phantom allows the creation of random dungeons, the stats of which can be changed by the player. This allows Marona to level up her phantoms, or search for certain times or phantoms to be used in the fusion system. The fusion system is used to create more powerful items and characters to use in battle. Players can fuse and item to an item, item to a character, or even two characters together to make something totally new. It allows for endless combinations and the creation of some crazy characters and battle tactics.
Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle is the third release of the game Phantom Brave. Originally released in 2004 for the Playstation 2, it was re-released in 2009 on the Wii. The original release had quite a few bonus characters from the hit NIS series Disgaea: Laharl, Etna, Fionne, Vyers aka Mid -Boss, Myao, and Baal. All of them were unlocked by beating different bonus stages in which they needed to be defeated. In the Wii release, an entire new mode was added, called ‘Another Marona’. Intended for those who had beaten the game, it is the story of a Marona from another dimension who comes to this one seeking Ash and the original Marona’s help. With this new release for the PSP, all the features for the PS2 and Wii versions are included, as well as more unlockable characters, such as Unloser Ranger, Lord Zetta, Castille, Asagi, and the fan-favorite exploding penguin, the Hero Prinny.
What’s Hot:A well written story backs up excellent gameplay in this title. It is chock full of the quirky, irreverent, and at times slightly risque humor that fans have come to expect from anything coming out of NIS. The gameplay system is challenging and very in-depth, allows for great character customization, and a wide variety of tactical approaches in battle.
What’s Not:Some may find the fusion system a little too in-depth for them, as it does take some time to learn what effects what, and what is the best item or character to fuse to raise such and such stat. The addition of a few new characters may not make it enough of a new game for owners of the Wii version to pay for it on PSP.
Final Verdict: Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle is a fun, funny, and challenging tactics game for the PSP. I highly recommended this for any newcomers to the game, or those who may have purchased the PS2 version and never did get around to picking up the Wii release. Fans will enjoy diving in and helping keep the at times overly optimistic Marona and her protector Ash out of trouble.Review - Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle,