Game Review: Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle (PSP)

Available on March 8, 2011 for PSP and PSN, Phantom Brave is a strategy RPG that turns everything you know about the genre upside down! Play as Marona, a young orphaned girl who has the power to communicate with spirits. Her guardian is Ash, who died trying to protect her parents from evil, and is now a phantom. Ash and Marona use their powers to help people so they can earn money to buy their island home. But soon they’ll end up saving the world in the process!

At first glance, Phantom Brave looks like any other SRPG. Isometric viewpoint, lots of characters to keep track of, etc. But that’s where the similarities end. First of all, you start out each battle playing only as Marona, who is pretty weak. She’ll need to summon phantoms like Ash to help her fight. She’ll first have to find an object to attach the spirit to, like a tree or a rock. Depending on what you attach them to will affect the spirit’s stats. For instance, attach them to a rock and their speed will be lowered, but they’ll have greater defense. That’s not all, though. There are no grids on the battlefield here. Your characters can move about freely in a limited space. And all objects on the battlefield can be picked up, thrown, or used as weapons, whether they are trees, rocks, swords, or even fallen enemies!

The storyline and characters in Phantom Brave are charming and likable, and the well-animated 2-D sprites really bring out the game’s personality. The PSP version even includes characters from other NIS games such as Unlosing Ranger and the famous Prinnies. Plus a second quest that experienced players can start on right away. There are handy tutorials you can view if you are new to the game, but things can still get kind of confusing once the game drops you into battle. But if you are an experienced strategy RPG player who hasn’t already tried the PS2 or Wii versions, then you may enjoy the uniqueness of Phantom Brave.

Kid Factor:

Phantom Brave is rated T for Teen with ESRB descriptors of Blood, Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, and Use of Alcohol. The 2-D sprite-based graphics really tone down the blood and violence, so it’s really not that bad at all. The language, suggestive themes, and alcohol use are mostly in the text only. Even though characters have spoken voice, strong reading skill is still required for all the menus and such. I’d be OK with kids younger than teens playing this, but because of the complexity and difficulty of this title, it’s best for older kid gamers only.

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