Phantom Breaker Battlegrounds Review – Cute & Spritely Fighting

Phantom Breaker Battlegrounds makes its debut on PC and encompasses some fast paced side-scrolling action for fighting fans. With a low price point, colourful retro graphics and sounds, is this worth checking out? Take a look at our Phantom Breaker Battlegrounds PC review for the full picture.

Phantom Breaker Battlegrounds PC review:

Today we’re taking a look at Mages and 5pb’s Phantom Breaker Battlegrounds which is a spin-off game from the original console release of Phantom Breaker. The game also released on the PS Vita and makes its way for the first time on PC. To begin, players are greeted with a cute and telling intro sequence which introduces the main characters which consist of a number of female combatants in typical cute anime fashion. Although don’t be dissuaded by the retro looking graphics as there’s plenty of carnage on offer here. Players can choose to dive into a story or arcade mode which has your chosen combatant fight through 8 stages set within Tokyo whilst attempting to rescue a companion from the clutches of the evil Phantom wizard, the latter ditches the story and has you fighting for best time, highest combo and such like. There’s also an additional co-op story for up to four local players alongside a Battlegrounds mode where players can go head to head in local competitive play. Sadly there’s no online play in these modes which would have upped the fun ten fold, but you can’t have it all.

Looking at the base gameplay, players choose a character from a selection of fighters who each come with their own characteristics and fighting style. Mikoto for example wields a hefty sword whilst Itsuki a hammer and so on. There’s variation in fighting as a result, although in reality it’s personal preference at the end of the day. Players can also adjust the colour of their character’s clothing and skin making for unique looking uniforms if desired. What’s neat here is an underlying role playing element of progression which caps itself at level 50. You’ll need to run through the game a few times to reach this and between each stage are granted the option to upgrade your character’s stats and skills. Interestingly, the cap means you can’t max out everything, so there’s a bit of decision making involved. Do you spend your gained points on attack and defence stats or upgrade skills to perform more devastating moves. Luckily, the option to re-spec is available at any time which means players can chop and change to suit without penalty which is a nice touch.

Onto the fighting itself and players can perform light, medium and hard attack moves alongside various special attacks, counters, throws befitting of a fighting game. There’s a text based tutorial page which outlines everything you need to know, although in fairness, players can simply button mash to success – on the default difficulty at least. Those who take the time to master the specials and combos will be much rewarded as it pays off being more skilled than simply relying on hammering away on the gamepad. It’s not the most in-depth of fighting games due to a limited number of moves per character, but as a side scrolling game offers plenty of satisfaction as enemies become tougher and larger to boot. For those button mashing, the game does feel a bit repetitive which is why learning a bit of flamboyancy and exercising some skill is a must here.

In terms of visuals, the game’s anime inspired retro looks work well with some excellent locations set within Tokyo’s colourful districts. Whilst there’s only 8 stages, the variety in locales which constantly change is good and means you won’t tire of the visuals. The sprite based characters themselves are naturally cute in the face of the constant violence, although there’s no blood and gore despite the size and sharpness of the weapons, meaning the game is well suitable for all ages.

Audio maintains a retro flavour in all areas complimenting the visual elements with a number of light hearted tunes to fight alongside. There’s a a fair amount of Japanese voice work which is performed as expected, but does mean anyone not understanding the language has to make do with text which luckily can be changed to several European tongues.

Playing the game’s story mode is an enjoyable romp albeit somewhat short and can be bested in under two hours. That said, there’s plenty reason to dive back in again to either level-up your chosen fighter more, unlock additional characters and level those up as well or tackle the unlocked increased difficulty settings for greater challenge. The arcade mode also has you survive for as long as you can whilst racking up the highest combos, quickest time and high scores. As already mentioned there’s local co-op and competitive play as well for up to four players which is a neat inclusion, although with no online options makes it a bit limited if you’ve no-one to play with locally.

Phantom Breaker Battlegrounds is a charming, easy to pick up and play for short periods and ultimately fun trip through Tokyo and beyond. For its low price point, players will certainly get their monies worth although button mashers might find the gameplay a little too repetitive after extended playing. The lack of online modes limits the game’s overall appeal but even so, for a single player experience or with local friends offers some satisfying fighting moments and lots to do for completionists. If you’re a fan of side scrolling fighters, then this is well worth checking out. For those who simply want a no-nonsense bit of action without the complexity, then you’ll find a neat little game here.

Score 8.5/10

Written by: Robert Cram

Robert Cram has hundreds of video game reviews and thousands of articles under his belt. He aims to remain objective and fair in his analysis. With years of experience, feels his gaming opinions are valid and worth sharing. Agreement is entirely optional.