On the other hand, if this is made for younger players, then why is it so difficult? The game seems simple enough at first, but it won't take long before you find yourself outclassed for the next challenge. This means that you'll need to replay a few earlier missions, which halts the flow of the game entirely. Grinding in role-playing games is nothing new, but it's especially annoying when you have to do it early in the game. And don't even get me started on what this constant backtracking does to the game's pacing. All this definitely feels out of step with the otherwise cutesy visuals.
Even with the trial and error levels, I was won over by the game's simple charm. After playing through some truly heavy adventure games recently, I was up for something fat-free like Phantom Brave. There's something very economical about this game, from the way you live on a house to how everybody that lives on your tiny island is also ready to help you fight monsters. The truth is, I really like island living. I like how I don't need to search around for the shopkeeper. If I want to sit and read letters, I'm free to do that. Phantom Brave is a very relaxing game ... at least until the monsters show up.
No matter how much I like hanging out on the beach, I can't help but be reminded that this is a seven year old PlayStation 2 game. The game does offer new content and playable characters, but it's not enough to buy this game all over again. Thankfully the graphics still hold up, especially on the PSP's widescreen display. The user interface is also good, even if they are on the simple side.
Then again, if you're somebody who missed the game on both the PlayStation 2 and the Wii, then Phantom Brave is a steal for twenty dollars. The game packs enough content to keep players going for weeks to come, longer if you dig into the exclusive PSP content. Best of all, the game offers a sense of whimsy that you don't normally get from modern-day adventure games. It's nice to see this kind of game find new life on a platform known for quality role-playing games.
The problem with Phantom Brave is that it will be ultimately overshadowed by newer (and better) games. Had this been released early in the PSP's lifecycle I would have been tempted to give it a recommendation, however now this seven year old RPG is forced to compete with the likes of Kingdom Hearts, Ys Seven, Persona 3 Portable, Valkyria Chronicles II and countless other recent releases. Phantom Brave isn't at the same level, which ultimately makes it hard to be enthusiastic about the release. The low price softens the blow, but this NIS America release is not the slam-dunk it was a half dozen years ago.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Phantom Brave is a charming little adventure game from people who know a thing or two about the genre. Unfortunately, the intriguing quest is marred by shallow gameplay and some pacing issues. If you're already bored of the newer role-playing games, then give this seven year old port a good long look!
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