Phantom Breaker Extra

Year: 2013
Platform: PlayStation 3
Genre: Fighting
Review Date: 12/15/15
Rating: **

As a fan of female fighting games, I pre-ordered the original "Phantom Breaker" several years ago when it first came out on Xbox 360. Unfortunately, it was reportedly so awful that the US version was cancelled, along with my order. "Phantom Breaker Extra" is a region-free version that features several iterations of performance tuning, refinements, and added features, but it still amounts to just a mediocre package. With so many 2D anime fighters on the market, "Phantom Breaker" does little to distinguish itself. It features the typical anime styled schoolgirls, shrine maidens, pop idols, loli-goth girls, maids, military girls, business women, and vampire girls, along with a couple of pre-pubescent girls and a small handful of instantly forgettable male characters. The character designs are attractive and colorful, and the animations are pretty good. Unfortunately, the characters are rendered with what appears to be cel shading as opposed to pixel art, which makes them look overly blurry. Rimi Sakihata from "Chaos;Head" and Kurisu Makise from "Steins;Gate" show up as boss characters and can be unlocked after you beat them, but the game's difficulty makes that an extremely tough task.

It's primarily an edged weapon fighting game like "SoulCalibur", but without the depth and style. Since it's all in Japanese, the story is a complete mystery, but the character animations suggest that the characters are normal people who transform into magical warriors (phantom breakers?) to do battle. Gameplay consists of the traditional arcade, story, and training modes, and each character has a set of weak, medium, heavy, and special attacks. Typical of anime fighters, a super powered attack can be performed when your power gauge fills up. The move lists are relatively simple, and no dialing techniques are required. One unique feature of the game is that the characters automatically guard in a neutral position, so the only time that you're vulnerable is when you're moving forward. However, guards can be broken with persistent attacks, so you can't just stand still and not expect to take damage. The stages are colorful, but uninteresting and overly simplistic. The music is pleasantly innocuous, and everything about the game seems bland and unexceptional. Unfortunately, it's also really hard, and even on the easiest difficulty it's a challenge to win matches. I played for nearly an hour before I won my first match, which was exhausting. While this may appeal to the hardcore fighting audience, I merely found it frustrating and it robbed me of seeing all that the game has to offer. Now that I've satisfied my curiosity about the game, I see no reason to revisit it.