Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds (PS Vita) Review

By Drew Hurley 12.10.2014

Review for Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds on PS Vita

Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds was originally released in February 2013 as an Xbox Live Arcade game in Japan, and was a spin-off from a Japanese 2D fighter. Now it has been released onto the PlayStation Vita and fits perfectly as a handheld title. The game is a scrolling beat 'em up that uses a similar system to the SEGA Saturn cult classic Guardian Heroes. Travel through seven stages across Japan in Story and Arcade mode, or fight against other players in Battleground mode in this retro scroller.

Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds allows a choice from one of four heroines at the start: a gothic loli with a giant sword, a shrine maiden with a giant halberd, a Japanese maid with a giant hammer, and a ninja girl with a pair of swords. All of the characters have superb designs and styles, and each comes with eight colour palettes to select from the get-go.

As if these characters weren't enough, completing the game on Normal will unlock four more fighters and the option of Hard mode. A completion of Hard will unlock two more characters and Nightmare mode. Unfortunately, neither of these harder difficulties offer a significant challenge compared to the standard mode.

Each character is fairly interchangeable when it comes to the basics of how they play, but they all have some unique flair with their weapons and special moves. They can also be levelled up to level 50, gaining skill points on each level up to spend on the classic trio of stats of attack, defence and speed, or on skills and abilities. All of these can be reallocated between levels or on character death.

Screenshot for Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds on PS Vita

Otaku and visitors to Japan will love the Easter eggs scattered throughout the background as places like Akihabara, Ikebukuro and Odaiba are trekked through. In Akihabara, a virtual recreation of the main streets is travelled down, seeing all the sites of the real world Akihabara, such as the giant Club SEGA and the JR station, as well as a little poetic licence here and there for "Master Donut" and "King Burger."

Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds is a little too easy, even on harder difficulties, but even so, the combat can be as simple or complex as personally dictated. Mashing light attack will get through the game, but using slide attacks, combos and juggles allows for a much deeper level of combat. As does making use of the different planes a la Guardian Heroes. Though whereas Guardian Heroes allowed jumping between numerous different planes, this has only two - the foreground and the background - and it's a feature that is left completely underexploited.

The game could stand to be a little longer; a full playthrough of the story will only take one to two hours, and that gets faster with levelled up characters on replays of the higher difficulty. A completion on Hard or Nightmare mode will get a character to the highest level, meaning getting all characters to the max will take between ten and twenty hours.

Screenshot for Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds on PS Vita

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds is a good game, but it's simply nothing original. What it draws from Guardian Heroes feels watered down, the difficulty is too easy and the replayability could be a lot more with simple additions. That said, Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds is great to just pick up and play. On top of this, both the co-operative and competitive multiplayer, along with max levelling all of the characters, does extend the lifespan enough to warrant the slightly higher price point. Fans of the classics like Streets of Rage, Final Fight, Golden Axe and of course Guardian Heroes should pick this up. It's worth it.

Developer

Division2

Publisher

Mages.

Genre

Brawler

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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