Playing Phantom Brave: We Meet Again
was truly a unique and entertaining experience. You play as Marona, an orphan being raised by her parents’ former companion, Ash. After being defeated by Sulphur, a mysterious villain who appears at the beginning of the game, Marona’s father Haze attempts to revive Ash but only manages to turn him into a phantom. Ash then vowed to protect Marona. The story is both touching and mysterious; Marona is clearly lonely and misunderstood, while Ash’s loyalty to her is worthy of applaud. The death of Marona’s parents isn’t fully explained, nor is the haunting demon that defeated them. Marona grows up to become a Chroma (more or less a bounty hunter) similar to her parents, but is consistently taken advantage of and harassed as the “Posessed One” due to her ability, called Chartreuse Gale, to see phantoms like Ash. As you progress through the various jobs that Marona undertakes, Ash begins to notice an unsettling pattern to the enemies that they are facing, which foreshadows the imminent reappearance of Sulphur. The progression of the plot and the character development really capture the essence of each of the characters and their stories.
I’m a huge RPG fan, but coming from the Final Fantasy series I was unaccustomed to the gameplay that I encountered in this game. As opposed to Final Fantasy’s fixed position ATB system, Phantom Brave
is based on a limited circumference of movement in which you will have to maneuver in properly in order to come up with a favorable fighting stance. This was a major flaw of the game. Initially, this seemed interesting to have to calculate your range of movement as well as your and your enemy’s position in which altitude is also significant. I preferred the fixed positions in battle that you had in Final Fantasy. Movement in Phantom Brave
became a guessing game of where you could move to appropriately hit your target, and where you wouldn’t freak your character out into bouncing all over the screen or tripping over things. If there is a discrepancy in altitude, your character will often replicate a seizure – bouncing side to side and finally coming to settle at 0 dm giving you no extra room to move even if you’ve really only moved a distance of 5 dm. Of course, you could always redo moving but it becomes a hassle. I liked the idea of having range as a factor to fighting ability, but the one-click movement was glitchy and inaccurate. Disgaea’s grid system could have solved this problem, so I’m not quite sure why they decided against it for this game.
Nevertheless, many aspects of this game were meant to be exploited, which I was grateful for because it made the game all-around more challenging and stimulating. With a set of characters, and the succession of each level providing you with more unlockable characters, you build skill through the appropriate weaponry that must be equipped with its complementary character. This is also another aspect of the game that I found to be foreign. The weapons are really where your characters level and gain new abilities. I wasn’t particularly fond of this aspect, as I prefer to ingrain my characters with set traits that I end up coming to rely on. At the same time, however, this aspect of gameplay certainly made playing each character an experience that was constantly in flux, as you change weapons and customize them. You can do this in one of two ways: either by utilizing your characters’ non-combat abilities to buy and customize weapons, or obtaining weapons from each battlefield.
In terms of obtaining a weapon mid-battle, you can steal weapons from enemies, or you can lift objects including any character – live or dead, foe or friend. You begin to learn what abilities each item provides when wielded; for instance, lifting a friend will give you the “body swing” move where you whack your enemy with your ally’s body (which is hilarious). Generally, if you have a selection it is good to keep in mind the stats of each item as well as the character’s stats to try to compliment them. Buying from a merchant is also an option. This is another instance where your tactical play comes full force. Although most characters have certain classes that they pertain to, their abilities are relatively flexible and can be manipulated in multiple ways. First, buying a weapon from the merchant will allow you to preview stats and compare which weapon would be most appropriate for each character. For instance, Marona isn’t much of a fighter so I relied on her healing abilities and chose weapons that built upon that. The other characters/classes come to be significant to gameplay, as well. The blacksmith is able to improve stats on your weapons by spending your mana, which you can generate most effectively by using your weapons. By using the blacksmith, you can add extra moves/spells or increase the level of the weapon. You can further mold your characters by visiting the group fusionist who combines items or even characters together. Here, you will also spend your mana points so you must choose where and how to spend it wisely. The dungeon master is also important, as you can level your characters through battle here as opposed to the mundane task of replaying previous levels and islands.
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