Archive for August, 2008

Phantom Brave Review (PS2)


Phantom Brave for PS2Phantom Brave was released in America on August 31st, 2004 with two editions available. The Phantom Brave – Special Edition came with a free soundtrack CD but a shortened instruction booklet when compared to the normal edition.

Phantom Brave was Nippon Ichi’s fourth release in the U.S. following Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure for PS1 and Disgaea: Hour of Darkness and La Pucelle: Tactics for PS2. Games with which Nippon Ichi had seen significant sales success (particularly with Disagea).

Now without further ado, to the review!


In the year of 913, in a world called Ivoire, lives Marona, a 13 year old orphaned girl with a special ability to communicate with phantoms. Her ability brings resentment from others, but cheerful and optimistic Marona is not bothered. Marona believes in her parents’ teachings that people will one day come to like her as long as she stays compassionate and kind. Now Marona travels throughout Ivoire with her guardian, Ash the Phantom, taking jobs somewhat similar to a bounty hunter.

Phantom Brave logo

System: PlayStation 2
Also On: None
Release Dates: USA August 31st, 2004 – EU February 4th, 2005 – JAP: January 2nd, 2004 (August 3rd, 2006 for the “Best for the Family version)
Genre: Strategy (Tactical) RPG
Players: Single Player Only
Developer: Nippon Ichi
Publisher: NIS America (Nippon Ichi America)
Origin: Japan
Rating: T for Teen because of: Animated Blood, Fantasy Violence, Mild Language

Game Mechanics:
Phantom Brave re-imagines many aspects of traditional RPGs and needs to be approached as something new. Many of the underlying aspects are familiar and traditional, such as character levels and stats. Phantom Brave is a Strategy RPG, meaning that battles take place on a 3D map with a team of characters under the player’s control, and a host of enemies to fight on each map. While many games in this genre use a grid to dictate movement, this one is gridless. Characters can move a set distance in any direction. Attack ranges can, therefore, be a little sensitive, but with careful placement can allow players to maximize the enemies who fall into Area of Effect Attacks.

Phantom Brave Screenshot 1
Between battles, players may return to Marona’s Island which acts as a home base where characters can be healed, items can be purchased, things can be organized, and so on.

While these basics are not outside the norm of SRPGs, this game takes a whole new approach at this point. Play begins with Marona on the map, lots of enemies and lots of random objects strewn about. Marona has the ability to confine Phantoms (the rest of her team) to the objects on the map, temporarily giving them a physical form. The Phantoms have a turn limit, so after they have a certain number of turns (the number varies by the type of character), they vanish. The items a character is confined to will also affect the stats of the character. For instance, being confined to a rock will make a Phantom slower but also have a stronger defense. Players will need to pay attention to the items Phantoms are confined to in order to increase characters strengths or shore up weaknesses.

Play on the maps has one other quirk. Objects and characters who fall Out of Bounds (that is, off of the map) are gone from the battle. When enemies fall out of bounds, they increase the level of the other enemies on the map. The terrain of maps will have two aspects to notice. The first is how slippery the floor is. A slippery floor will allow characters to slide beyond their movement range, but may cause them to slide Out of Bounds. The second is how bouncy the ground is. A very bouncy floor can have a similar effect.

The game also has equipment, but not in the traditional sense. There is no armor to use. Instead, each character can hold an item. That item will alter the character’s stats. It will also guard the character by taking a percentage of the damage a character receives. The item will also have special attack and support moves the character can use. This is easy enough, but the items equipped range from traditional RPG weapons (i.e. swords, axes, staffs, spears, etc.) to any stray item that can be picked up (such as rocks, bricks, water cans, fish, clumps of grass and even other characters). Items the player owns can be leveled up and strengthened, as well as having hidden skills within the item unlocked.

Phantom Brave Screenshot 2

There are two types of experience used in the game. The first, simply called Experience, is based on the level of characters defeated or objects destroyed (as well as a bonus received for completing maps) and is applied only to the level of the character. The second type is Mana. Characters and the items they wield, receive the Mana a defeated character or item has. Mana is used to strengthen items as well as in Fusions. Fusions take an item (or character) and fuse it into another. This process can boost an item’s stats, and also allow the transfer of skills.

There is also a third type of Experience, of sorts, found in weapon and skill proficiencies. Actions are broken up into seven types: Physical Attacks, Energy Attacks, Elemental Magic, Physical Magic, Space/Time, Status, and Healing. All actions beyond the basic action for each character or item requires spending points from that category (like spending magic points in most RPGs). Every action increases the experience with that action type, which will increase the points the character has to spend in that category. Every time a character uses a skill, that skill will also increase in experience. The experience will increase the skill level, making the skill stronger as well. All of this simply means that the more a character does something, the better they will be at it.

The game features one more truly unique feature. Every character and item has a title (there are a couple of exceptions for a few story items). The title will alter stats and may possibly give skills to whatever it is on. The title will have a huge affect on the strength of the items and characters they are attached to. Titles can be traded between objects giving one more area for players to improve their teams. Titles can also be leveled up through random dungeons. A Dungeon Monk will allow characters to go into a title, and every map cleared will make that title a little stronger. Every enemy in the random levels will have that title, so running through a strong title will make for stronger enemies to fight through. There are only two ways to exit a dungeon: clearing the dungeon (sometimes hundreds of floors) or using the Dungeon Monk’s “Return” skill which requires spending some money to use. Using fusion to give several characters this skill will be useful in making a hasty escape if enemies become overwhelming.

Phantom Brave Cutscene Screenshot

Like most Nippon Ichi games, character levels can reach level 9,999. While this is not necessary to complete the story, there are post-game battles and random dungeons which can keep players entertained long after the story has ended. Items and characters have a level cap (100 for characters) which is increased by the level of items fused to them, thus allowing them to reach the final level cap of 9,999.

So how does Phantom Brave rank on a scale from 1 to 10?

Phantom Brave Artwork

Players expecting a traditional game will find an abrupt disappointment. While many of the underlying aspects of the game show the traditional roots of the Strategy RPG, the overall play style and character development process are quite unique, even from other Nippon Ichi games. The story centers on a young girl so themes of the game and the story as a whole are often touching and sentimental. Having the team disappear after several turns and need to be replaced is often a shock to any entrenched RPG player. There are many unusual features of this game which are not the norm for the RPG industry, but players who can move out of the usual expectation of RPG games will find a very impressive and unique game. The numbers that can be thrown around, especially in item fusion, can seem daunting, but only need to be understood in concept to be used. The game is fairly accessible to new players but allows a great deal of depth of play and is open to development to allow players to select their preferred play style.

Graphics – 8
The graphics are hand drawn sprites on rendered 3D maps. The look and feel of the game is very colorful and nice to look at. It may pale in comparison to other genres, but is quite impressive compared to other Strategy RPGs.

Audio – 9
As with most Nippon Ichi games, the music is beautiful and well placed. Voice acting is good, and also includes English or Japanese voices. Sound effects are simple and appropriate. There may be room for improvement, but not much.

Ingenuity – 9
As previously explained, this game has a fairly out-of-the-box approach to the genre. While it holds the usual Nippon Ichi flavor, it is not easily compared to other games they have made, or any other game in the genre, for that matter. The core concept of the Strategy RPG is the same, but most other aspects of the game have been rethought and are unique. This is either one of the most impressive Strategy RPGs to be released in the last decade or one of the most bothersome, depending on what the player is expecting. Players looking for something new will not be disappointed.

Replay Value – 8
Unlike Disgaea, This game does not feature a New Game+ (a special re-release in Japan added the feature). After the story is completed, there are plenty of features for anyone who enjoys playing though, to keep them busy for quite some time.

Fans of Strategy RPGs looking for a new approach to the genre need to start with Phantom Brave. The game also features a touching story which is a little unusual for video games in general. Any player who loves customization and building teams will have a heyday. Compulsive collectors will be a little frustrated by the huge amount of character types and item types available. The ability to make huge overpowering armies with almost limitless potential also appeals to a certain type of player. Any player who thinks these things may be appealing should at least give the game a look. It could easily be a nice diversion from the standard cookie cutter selection of games on the market and may possibly become a new favorite.

Published on August 31st, 2008 under , , , , , , , ,

Wondering what Link is doing this December?


Opening a dentistry practice in Hyrule, just west of Kakariko Village.

Published on August 31st, 2008 under , ,

ExtraLife comic – “One way out”


Head over this way for the rest of the strip.

Published on August 31st, 2008 under , ,

Resistance 2 Collector’s Edition Details



From Amazon:

  • Resistance 2 video game and Bonus DVD with Behind the Scenes video, video commentary by Insomniac Games, and “Twisted History” chronology video.
  • Exclusive in-game HVAP Wraith multiplayer skin
  • Sneak peek at the upcoming Resistance novel, “Resistance: The Gathering Storm”
  • Exclusive 5.5″ Chimera Hybrid action figure with Bullseye weapon
  • Double-sided Resistance art book covering a war-torn America from two unique perspectives.

Is this worth the extra $20?

Published on August 31st, 2008 under

The Conduit to utilize Wii Motion Plus


PAX 2008 has officially hit the west coast. As mentioned a few weeks back, High Voltage Software is planning on taking full advantage of the public event by showcasing the newest build of The Conduit. Though the demo shown is old news, Gamespot UK managed to squeeze the following bit of unexpected news out of the team.

High Voltage does plan to support Wii Motion Plus add-on so we will have to see later how that will work.

Nice! I’ve said it time and time again…High Voltage Software earns an applause from Wii owners due to their firm development dedication. You have these amazing devs like High Voltage who will implement a piece of hardware announced just a mere seven weeks ago. On the flip side you have AAA publishers such as Lucasarts who will complain about not knowing any info on Motion Plus, and fail to use the device in software that would truly enhance the gameplay.

More details on this news coming soon.

Published on August 31st, 2008 under , ,

Disgaea 3 Impressions


What Type of Game is This?

This game clearly fits into the strategy RPG genre: It’s like a regular RPG but there is more focus on the combat system and almost none of the exploration and adventure elements. All the item collection, character building, and stat building typically found in regular RPGs are here. There is plenty of story and narrative in between battles as well.


Who Will Like This?

This is an elaborate, chess-like strategy game that demands a large time investment to appreciate. Does that sound appealing? This genre of game has a definite niche audience, and it is easiest to explain this way:

I would have loved this when I was 8-18 years old and I had no other outlet for making strategic and tactical decisions. As an adult, I don’t want to play this for the same reason that I don’t want to play chess: I’d simply rather spend the type of effort and brain power that these games require on something more productive like work projects, or taking a night class at the university, or learning a real skill of some kind. Now when I play games, I seek either relaxation, inspiration, or type of excitement that I don’t get in my regular life such as gun fights and car chases.



The screenshots and videos give a good idea of exactly what to expect. This does not have flashy graphics or fancy technology and it clearly wasn’t supposed to. This title does look a little bit nicer than PS2/PSP games of this sort, but don’t expect anything huge.

Compared to other SRPGs

This is one of the more highly regarded series in the genre, but I don’t know this genre very well, so I can’t add much. Anyone else care to comment?

Published on August 31st, 2008 under

Retro Profile: Sunset Riders (SNES)


sunsetrd-2008-08_30-22-00-57.pngWhen I think about the subject of westerns, I usually think of cowboys, whisky, and saloons. When combined, these elements usually make for a nice bar fight somewhere down the line. That’s actually what I like the most about those types of movies. Those things aside, no western scenario would be complete without an outlaw, a bounty hunter, and a town caught in the middle of the battle between the two characters.
It was in that vein that in 1991, Konami released Sunset Riders in the arcade. It was a game that allowed up to 4 players to choose a bounty hunter and clean up the bandit-infested towns using that old fashioned brand of justice. I’m talking about six-shooters and shot guns, of course. It was no surprise that this game would go on to be released on the Sega Genesis and later on the Super NES as well. What I found surprising about these console ports was how they differed in conveying the presentation found in the arcade version. The Genesis port was pretty lackluster with only two characters to choose from (instead of the original 4), watered down graphics, and a shorter game altogether. The Super NES version, on the other hand, had a more favorable outcome.

Sunset Riders can be best described as the result you get when you crossbreed Contra with the Wild West. The 4 bounty hunters to choose from are Billy, Bob, Steve, and Cormano. Once you’ve selected your hero, you then proceed to shoot all sorts of bandits, enter taverns for weapon upgrades and blow stuff up with the help of dynamite sticks that are tossed your way (in the early stages anyway). The goal is to take down 8 outlaws spread across 8 stages, collecting a bigger bounty for each boss you put out of commission. The weapon of choice for Billy and Steve is the pistol. Bob and Cormano make good use of the shotgun. Billy and Steve’s weapons fire quickly but cover a narrow space, whereas Bob and Cormano’s heavier firepower is a little slower, but covers a wider distance. I found the game to be easier when play as either of the later two bounty hunters.

There’s not a huge variety of power-ups to make use of, but what is available is helpful enough. Collecting a silver sheriff’s badge with the dual pistol symbol grants your character double firepower. The golden sheriff’s badge gives you rapid fire which of course allows you to shoot more enemies onscreen at once. Both items can usually be picked up by into certain taverns/buildings or are sometimes dropped by special bandits once they’ve been killed. These upgrades will prove to especially helpful in boss battles.
As with most arcade style shooters, the first few bosses are fairly simple to defeat. As you progress on, you’ll need to pay attention to their attack patterns and time your shots accordingly. One of the more unique battles take place in a saloon where you must defeat a pair of bomb-throwing maniacs know as the Smith Brothers. You’ll be spending most of your time trying to stay one step ahead of them, jumping on the chandelier that sways in the typical Mode-7 fashion. It’s worth the effort though, because afterward some of the saloon girls come out and dance a cute little jig before sending you off to the next area. It’s the little things that give this game its own personality.

sunsetrd-2008-08_30-22-03-47.pngThe level designs are fun to play through and recreate the look and feel of the Wild West very well. My favorite areas are the ones that have you taking down bandits while riding on horseback through the frontier. The visual presentation on the Super NES looks simply gorgeous and stays very faithful to arcade original. Each character or enemy type is well animated with their own personality and movements which make them easy to prioritize when deciding which foe to take on first when the action gets a little hectic. I can’t recall a moment where the game ever slowed down much at all. That’s a feat worth noting because it’s no secret that the SNES was known for being the slower console of the 16-bit generation.

Play or Stay? Whether you’re a huge fan of western themes in your games or not, the heavy Contra influence mixed with its own original elements makes Sunset Riders a fun little shoot ‘em up that aged pretty well, given the fact that it was released back in the early 90’s. To my knowledge, a sequel was never produced; this was most likely due to the fact that it didn’t receive heavy attention either in the arcade or especially when it was released on the Super NES and Genesis systems. It’s too bad, because I can only imagine what could have been done to 1up the already satisfying experience with a continued story and maybe a new set of bounty hunters. Ah well, even though the sun seems to have set on this particular title (I know…corny pun), I’d say that a re-release on the Wii’s Virtual Console would not too far out the realm of possibility. If that happens, then perhaps Sunset Riders will finally receive to exposure that it deserves.

Published on August 31st, 2008 under ,

New Game Get – Nintendo releases for the week ending September 6th


From The Abyss DSHere are the new releases for this week:

From The Abyss

Freddi Fish in Kelp Seed Mystery
Pajama Sam in Don’t Fear the Dark
Spy Fox in Dry Cereal

Anything there peak your interest?  Not me.

Published on August 31st, 2008 under , ,

Official Guilty Gear 2: Overture characters list


Overture for Xbox 360Guilty Gear 2: Overture is a complete re-imagining of the Guilty Gear franchise that takes the series in some surprising directions and is expected for release in the U.S. on September 30th (set for fall 2008) for the Xbox 360.

The game is a mix of third-person action a la Devil May Cry 4 and real-time strategy (yes, RTS) elements as well as some other mixtures for something completely different than what fighting fans would expect from the Guilty Gear name. It’s also super fast paced and just as crazy as ever.

The game features troops that you can control in order to take points of a map or destroy that level (or your opponents, up to four in online multiplayer) Master Ghost unit.

There is a cast of six playable characters in Guilty Gear 2: Overture who are your “Commanders”. As well as two other characters featured in the game.

Click on the pictures of each character’s artwork (or name) below to see a much larger picture pop up.

Playable Characters:

1. Dr. Paradigm
Overture Character Artwork
Dr. Paradigm (voice actor: Yuji Mikimoto) is a sentient Gear that is styled after a Chinese dragon. He carries around a book of magic spells and along with some fellow Gears was sealed away in The Backyard so that Justice could not control him.

2. Izuna
Overture Character Artwork
Izuna (voice actor: Toru Furusawa) is a the spirit of a fox who was exiled from “The Backyard”, another plane of existence. Izuna first appears as a voice in Sol and Sin’s heads when they are attacked by a mysterious new enemy. He teaches Sol about the new enemy (which acts as the game’s tutorial) and later travels the lands with Sol and Sin.

3. Ky Kiske
Overture Character Artwork
Ky Kiske (voice actor: Takeshi Kusao) is Sol’s long-time rival. In Guilty Gear 2: Overture Ky has grown in his appearance since earlier games and he is now the King of Illyuria. In addition to having 3D versions of his attacks, he wields a new sword in this game.

4. Sin
Overture Character Artwork
Sin (voice actor: Issei Miyazaki) is a young man who accompanies Sol throughout the game. He battles with a flag and pole as his weapons of choice and is the son of Ky Kiske who fathered him with a female Gear. He is the target of Valentine due to the fact that he can be used a sthe Key due to his Gear cells. Sin doesn’t get along with his father Ky, but has a deep effection for his mother.

5. Sol Badguy
Overture Character Artwork
Sol Badguy (voice actor: George Nakata) is the main character of the Guilty Gear series and is a Gear prototype. In Guilty Gear 2: Overture, Sol Badguy has been given an all-new look, as well as 3D versions of some of his special attacks. You will see Sol’s Gear form when he confronts “That Man” (See “Other Characters” below).

6. Valentine
Overture Character Artwork
Valentine (voice actor: Chie Sawaguchi) is a young women who is dressed up as a Japanese “gothic lolita”. She speaks in a simple manner but battles with a balloon dubbed Lucifero. Valentine is looking for something called “The Key”. That key, as you read above, is the child of Justice who has married Ky Kiske and thus is the son of Ky: Sin, who has inherited his mother’s cells. Valentine is racing against That Man so she can reach an object that is only known as “The Cube”. And which can only be accessed by (what else?) The Key. Valentine is one of the main antagonists in the game.

Other Characters:

7. Raven

Raven (voice actor: Hiroki Yasumoto) is only one of three servants to That Man. Little is known about Raven, but he does share some kind of connection with Axl Low. A connection that “That Man” describes as being a “parallel existence” with one another. Raven became a playable character in the Japanese version of Guilty Gear 2: Overture on June 5th, 2008 due to an official patch released over Xbox Live. I would be that he will also appear as a playable character in the U.S. version from the get go.

8. That Man

That Man (voice actor: Tomokazu Sugita) is the shadowy figure of the Guilty Gear universe. His identity has remained a secret and no one truly knows who he is, except for his servant “I-no”. However everyone does know one thing about “That Man”, he is the “Gear Maker”. And in Guilty Gear 2: Overture, The Man is on hand to test the true extent of Sol Badguy’s abilities as a Gear.

Here is the latest trailer for Guilty Gear 2: Overture to give you a better idea of how the game plays.

Download Red Alert 1 for free! Also get Red Alert 2 for free with a Red Alert 3 pre-order from EA


Red Alert for PCElectronic Arts will celebrate Command & Conquer: Red Alert’s 13th Anniversary by giving away the original Red Alert as a free download, compatible for Windows XP! The same version was included with the RTS collectors pack Command & Conquer: The First Decade. But if you didn’t get that, then from Sunday, August 31st 2008, you’ll be able to download it directly from starting 12:00 AM Pacific Time for an undetermined period.

Electronic Arts also announced that you’ll get a free copy of Red Alert 2 if you pre-order Red Alert 3 via the EA Store, GameStop or Best Buy. That pre-order also includes desktop wallpapers from women in the game, a Red Alert series retrospective, and an exclusive multiplayer map.

This old Red Alert 1 trailer shows what to expect: classic RTS goodness and campy cutscenes. D

Published on August 30th, 2008 under , , , , , , , , , ,

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