By William Haderlie / August 15th, 2016
|Title||Phantom Brave PC|
|Developer||Nippon Ichi Software, Inc.|
|Genre||Strategy Role Playing Game|
|Age Rating||ESRB T for Teen|
This is the third edition of Phantom Brave that I have owned. I want to get that out of the way right off the bat so the readers know where I’m coming from with this review. The original version of Phantom Brave came out on the PlayStation 2 in 2004. There was a subsequent version on the Wii called Phantom Brave: We Meet Again (in the United States, it was called Phantom Brave Wii in Japan), and it was released in 2009. This new version featured all the previous content and added a new scenario called Another Marona. Then, in 2011, they released a PSP port called Phantom Brave: Hermuda The Triangle. The PSP port included that alternate story, a few additional characters, and a New Game+ where you could carry over everything exactly as it was when you finished the game. You could also carry that normal game clear file into the Another Marona version. Of those games, I have owned the original PS2 release, the PSP version, and now Phantom Brave PC.
As far as the content in the game itself, this is the PSP version, which prior to this release is the definitive one. So you are getting all the story and characters that are combined from the previous versions. Where this one carves any new territory is in the above screen. It is very important to remember that this was a PlayStation 2 game. And for anyone who still likes to play games from that era, they don’t exactly look their best in HD. The Wii and PSP versions did not change much in the way the game looks either. But for this version the 2D backgrounds and menus are all full HD, and the sprites and polygons have also had some minor touch ups with graphical modification. It’s not an amazing looking game, by any stretch, but this is definitely the best it’s ever looked. And for an SRPG, the mechanics are by far the most important aspect of the game. Keyboard controls are also fully supported and actually work quite well, but it was built for a controller so I still preferred to use an XBox 360 controller. The switch over between the two control methods was extremely smooth, though, and it impressed me. It senses which control input you are using mid-game and changes the on-screen prompts accordingly in real time.
This is actually a good title to make those graphical tweaks to, because the story beats in this game are played out quite a bit differently than most NIS SRPG games are. Unlike the Disgaea games, and a few other assorted titles, the story is presented on a 2D plane with hand drawn backgrounds and an extreme closeup view of character sprites moving over it. It gives the story a feel almost like a play. Unlike other NIS titles, however, this play would not be a comedy. While there is definitely some tragedy here, it’s more a drama that can tug at your heartstrings. Whether the drama affects you positively or negatively depends on the reader. Many fans of the genre criticize this story, and certainly NIS themselves have not really gone back to this type of a story. But for my money, I actually consider the story of Phantom Brave to be my favorite NIS story so far. In fact, the recent Disgaea 5 was the first one to really come close to this one for me.
Marona is the orphaned child of a couple Chroma’s (basically mercenaries) who died in battle along with their friend Ash. As they died her father, Haze, gifted her his Miracle Power Chartreuse so that she could see and control phantoms. Then he and his wife, Jasmine, tasked Ash with looking after their daughter as they made sure he became a phantom before they were all killed. Using her inherited powers has given her a constant companion in Ash, but has also made her shunned from society. She is widely known as The Possessed Girl, and it both prevents her from making any friends and also makes it difficult for her to earn money as a Chroma. But she does still need to earn it, as she only rents the island that she lives on.
Her goal is to try to earn enough money to buy her island outright from Sienna. However, she is not the only interested party in owning said land. Being named Phantom Island does not create a lot of interest, however island collectors like Cauldron are willing to look past the name. Being a young orphan girl and widely shunned due to being “possessed” makes it all the more difficult to take on jobs, so she pretty much has to take what she can get. Initially her kind and good nature tends to hold her back, but once people realize that they can depend on that nature, her fortunes begin to change for the better. However, the creature that killed her parents and Ash is still lurking in the shadows gaining power (very Voldemort like).
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