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Phantom Brave RPG

Phantom Brave is a story-driven RPG broken into 20 chapters. In it you play Marona, a 13 yr old girl who can talk with phantoms. She goes on quests with her phantom-pal Ash.

I have to say I was disappointed with the graphics in this game when it began, as you sit through the entry cut-scenes involving Marona's parents and Ash. Both parents die, leaving Marona an orphan at age 5. You then jump forward in time to her at 13, living alone on an island with phantom-pal Ash. The island is her home which she hopes to someday buy. In the meantime, she works with her phantom friends to solve problems for people. Unfortunately, while some people need her skills, most resent her for her strange powers.

The graphics are on the cute-anima-short-people side, much like Ragnarok. The backgrounds are a bit blocky. The sound is also on the cute side, with bouncy music humming along.

The RPG aspect of the game is actually quite interesting. In most RPGs you just get one or two friends to travel with you. Here you get a wide selection of phantoms to work with, each with his or her own skills. You can name the phantoms and really build a party that works well with your gaming style.

Not only do you have phantoms to work with, but you can "confine" objects on the battlefield and use them as weapons. Each item has its own special skills - and when you merge an item with a given phantom, the combination can range from so-so to truly incredible based on the match.

Strangely, while much of this game seems very much geared towards kids with its cute look and feel, there are also scenes of blood-dripping monsters, characters yelling out "what the hell is this?" and words like "blasphemous" being tossed arond.

The in-game help is reasonably good and while it can be confusing to get started, once you get the hang of things it's not hard to work with your party and move through the levels. On the other hand, the game starts throwing around characters, groups and political situations without much introduction. It's the type of game that may seem quite confusing the first time through - and only begins to make sense when you play it the second time around and know the players and factions.

The game is pretty heavy-handed with the "everyone picks on the 13 yr old" and "she is blithely happy no matter what happens around her" scenarios. There is also a sappy voice-over that comes from nowhere to fill in the details.

A fun RPG for anime fans and those who love playing with combinations and tweaking to see what works best - but be aware of the cuteness / sappy factor. Some people love that ... and some will be drive crazy.

Score: 7/10

Buy Phantom Brave from Amazon.com

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