There are a lot of considerations to take into account when developing characters and choosing which to summon and when to summon them. Your decisions will be altered depending on the difficulty of surrounding enemies, as well as the length of the level. The summoning system itself is a unique one; Marona confines the various scattered objects on each level with a phantom of her choosing. These are the objects that you can choose to wield as a weapon, so you’ll have to plan ahead as to whether or not you want the object in question to be used for confining or for weaponry. Certain objects will also be more beneficial to certain characters, same as when wielding them. I generally took to the tactic of scanning the field first in order to come up with a list of characters I would call upon in sequence to be used effectively. Each phantom will only remain on the level for as many turns as they are allotted, another factor in choosing which character to confine at which time. There are instances where I would let enemies battle amongst themselves before I even made a single move, thereby decreasing the amount of enemies I had to battle. Some enemies will even pick up objects and toss them O.B. (out of bounds), but you can retaliate by throwing them off the level, too. But be careful, because if you’re too close to the edge chances are a hit will knock you over.
There are a few general aspects that when taken together can either make or break a game. Phantom Brave
for the Wii has many of them down, with a few exceptions. The controls are one aspect of the game that I found to be an inconvenience. Targeting is unreliable, and I was forced to pass up turns at times because I literally could not target an enemy to make use of that character and its turn. I’d grow tired of fumbling with my joystiq with a tree blocking my view, and would pass them up just for the chance to move on. Range of attacks were also a bit of a nuisance as you could be in a fairly good range but still not have the ability to attack your opponent. This was not a limit of your individual character’s range of movement, because often times the problem was that I was too close. Uh…eh? Again, I would partake in a guessing game of where to move first before I could use an appropriate attack; this is something that should’ve been automated along with the targeting. This proved to be particularly aggravating while in a dungeon. Here, movement is vital because your character will end up bouncing all over the place if you don’t move them properly. The bad controls was just that much more blatant when going through about 15 stages for a dungeon. The exit option also felt a bit laborious rather than challenging. To exit, you either have to finish the dungeon or summon your dungeon master and use his ability “return” to exit. So you have to summon him, make sure he doesn’t die, wait for his turn and finally leave the dungeon. Many a times I have had to cancel on lunches because I couldn’t exit a dungeon, and being the ever hardcore gamer that I am I refuse to have gone through all the work and not save!
The UI is also confusing. It took awhile to get accustomed to – so it was no obstacle that could not be overcome – but it is definitely something they could have improved on. The interface for customizing weapons and character stats are cluttered and just plain badly organized. For instance, visiting the group healer I didn’t even realize you could heal weapons until I noticed the faint “+” sign on the bottom corner of my screen that read “items.” I had assumed that you would just inevitably have to sacrifice your weapon to complete a stage. I haven’t experience the original PS2 version myself, but I hear stat charts are much more clear and easy to read.
I have to say, a decent UI system and controls really win me over because of the possible frustration that they threaten against a game. Even so, I’d say the storyline makes up for where the UI and controls were lacking. The characters really come into their own personality, and you grow to feel affection (or hatred) for them. I became invested in Marona’s quest to maintain her faith in people, and Ash’s obligation towards Marona. Even the dialogue is engaging, whereas I find most dialogues in games to be pretty lame and just fluff. Don’t get me wrong, it definitely had its cheesy moments; it wouldn’t be a Nippon Ichi game without it. Although some of the voice-overs (ahem, Marona’s) aren’t the most pleasant, the voice actors did a decent job of capturing the emotion of the characters. There’s also the option to choose the Japanese voice-overs, which I personally found a bit more convincing. The music is fitting, as well, and gives a good addition to the sound of the game without overriding the scenes. Although some people might be put off by the visuals in the game, I thought they were sort of adorable and didn’t mind at all that they were on the grainy and blocky side. This isn’t one of those games I look for high-end graphics from, but more so the storyline and gameplay, which Nippon Ichi delivered on.
Phantom Brave: We Meet Again is a good addition to anyone’s Wii game collection. It is challenging, entertaining, and with thousands of levels to achieve on each character, the game counts for 100+ hours of gameplay. It isn’t the best of strategy RPGs, but it is demanding and comes with a good story and plot to maintain your interest and investment in the characters. Although movement is rigid and can be restricting, the game is overall charming and enjoyable. Little intricacies were also appreciated. The game is heavily based on Disgaea, and the random references here and there definitely make for pleasant giggles if you’re a fan. It’s the random subtleties that really tie a bow on this game, and I’m sure they are received warmly by all.
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