March 9, 2011

Review – Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , — Mister Raroo @ 11:41 am

Review Phantom Brave the Hermuda Triangle
Phantom Brave has been trying to get me to play it for years. I actually purchased a copy of the game for PS2 back when it was released in 2004, but for whatever reason I never got around to playing it. It sat on my shelf, sad and lonely, until it eventually was sold on eBay during a crazed period in which I auctioned off a number of my games to free up some cash. I always felt guilty about that. So guilty, in fact, that I planned to buy the game when it was released for the Wii in 2009. I even had a copy in my hands and walked to the register at Best Buy before I weighed my options and realized having gas money was more important than having Phantom Brave.   

So, here we are, almost seven years after the game was originally released, and I’ve finally given in and played it. Was it worth the long wait? Well, playing the game wasn’t an earth-shattering experience, but I still found it worthwhile, if a little overwhelming.

Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle proves that sometimes giving players freedom isn’t always such a good thing, as the depth of the game and variety of options is almost too much to wrangle. At the same time, it’s a deep game and offers hours upon hours of gamplay, so strategy RPG fanatics will likely enjoy it.

Phantom Brave tells the tale of Marona, a young teenage orphan who works as a mercenary for hire. Marona’s talent lies in her ability to see ghosts and summon them from inanimate objects to do her bidding on the battlefield. I don’t really care much for storylines in videogames unless they’re really something special, and not surprisingly the plot in Phantom Brave didn’t keep me riveted.

In fact, after a while I began choosing the option to skip the story segments altogether so I could move on to the battle sequences. But I can imagine that plenty of players will enjoy the adventures of Marona and her phantom companions.

Phantom Brave is an SRPG designed with the hardcore in mind. It does some interesting things with the usual conventions of the genre, like tossing grid-based movement out the window and allowing players to travel a certain amount of distance in any direction. There are also other crazy things you can do, too, like pick up enemies and throw them off the side of the map, or utilize random weapons strewn across certain battlefields. The sky’s kind of the limit with Phantom Brave, and I have a feeling the lack of the genre’s predictable hallmarks will really be a breath of fresh air to many veteran SRPG players. For me, though, it was kind of a headache!

Phantom Brave encourages players to work quickly, as your summoned phantom warriors are only available for a certain amount of turns each battle. This kind of stressed me out because I’m not necessarily the world’s greatest strategist. Having so much freedom in moving and placing my characters caused me to waste turns, and before I knew it my top soldiers were out of commission and I was left with little manpower, usually resulting in a loss. This was even more of a bummer when I wasted turns not only because I inefficiently moved my characters, but because I did something dumb like target an already-defeated enemy, which is surprisingly easier to do than one might imagine.

I definitely dig that developer Nippon Ichi tried something new with Phantom Brave, but I have to wonder if a little more restraint and order would have actually made it a better experience. Particularly in regard to the lack of grid-based movement, when coupled with the 3D landscape and isometric viewpoint, it was difficult to gauge just where I wanted to move my characters. Even more troublesome was targeting enemies, as positioning my cursor to just the right spot for it to recognize where I planned to attack was always something I was wresting with even dozens and dozens of battles into the game.

Speaking of battles, expect to replay plenty of maps in order to level up your characters. Sometimes grinding can be fun, but in the case of Phantom Brave, it was a little difficult to swallow – mainly because more often than not I felt like I was fighting the iffy targeting controls rather than enemies. The upside of grinding in Phantom Brave is it helped me to improve my effectiveness in movement and attack strategies, and before long I was beating maps that were previously too daunting – I suppose leveling up my characters in the process didn’t hurt either.

The fact that Phantom Brave is now a thrice-released game definitely comes across in its presentation. Phantom Brave was designed during the era before the prevalence of high definition graphics, and it shows. While I absolutely adore the character sprites, they look a little blurry and washed out on the PSP screen. They’re still delightful, but they also look dated. The game fares better in the sound department, particularly in regard to the upbeat and catchy backdrop of music, though the English voice-overs are predictably melodramatic and slightly grating.

Phantom Brave is a solid game that is sure to catch the interest of SRPG buffs, especially if they are looking for something a little off the beaten path. It provides players with a great deal of freedom, though having so many options made me sometimes wish the game would keep things a little more directed. Still, for anyone who’s not afraid to color outside the lines, Phantom Brave offers a lot of depth and plenty of rewards.

It’s too bad issues like targeting enemies and gauging movement are so cumbersome, or the game could really be outstanding. But for anyone willing to overlook Phantom Brave’s physical flaws, there is a lot to like here.

Nippon Ichi Software

NIS America

PlayStation Portable


Release Date
March 8, 2011

*A copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review


  1. Played this back on the PS2 but sold it a year ago. I’m between getting the Wii version (which is cheaper) or this one. I’ll have to consider my future ACTUAL available gaming time since it’s about to get cut in half.

    Comment by EdEN — March 9, 2011 @ 5:48 pm

  2. I am ashamed to say this… but… I own all 3 versions of this game… and have only played a tiny fraction of the game! :O

    Comment by Ujn Hunter — March 10, 2011 @ 3:56 pm

  3. Well, then you’ve got the soundtrack as well which is always great!

    Comment by EdEN — March 10, 2011 @ 8:57 pm

  4. Which one came with a soundtrack? The Wii version?

    Comment by Ujn Hunter — March 10, 2011 @ 9:39 pm

  5. Yep. That would be the one. First print at least DID come with the soundtrack…

    Comment by EdEN — March 11, 2011 @ 4:29 am

  6. Cool. Well it did come with one of those shiny cardboard slipcases over the game case… I must have just not realized or forgot about the soundtrack! Thanks for the reminder!

    Comment by Ujn Hunter — March 11, 2011 @ 2:04 pm

  7. Glad I could help! Love the NIS soundtracks. Have Phantom Brave, Soul Nomad, Disgaea 2 and 3, La Pucelle and Grim Grimoire.

    Comment by EdEN — March 11, 2011 @ 5:31 pm

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