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  PlayStation 2
  Release Date:
  August 31, 2004
  Nippon Ichi Software
  Nippon Ichi Software
  Strategy RPG


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Phantom Brave
Reviewed by:

Final Fantasy Tactics fans will rejoice to find that unlike previous Nippon Ichi games, here movement order is determined by the speed stat and battles become more dynamic now that monsters no longer politely wait for you to beat them to a pixilated pulp, but rush in to attack at the first opportunity.

Though the average IQ of a fiend in Phantom Brave makes Gordon seem like Stephen Hawking. Often they'll simply sit there and only launch an attack when Marona or one of her phantom friends moves into their active range. The game tries to compensate for this, often by laying out story maps in a way that sets the player at a disadvantage, but as a general rule, unless the enemy's level is far greater than your own, you should have no trouble turning them into phantom fodder.

The fun can't last forever. All phantoms have a 'remove' stat that determines just how many licks they can get in before having to return to the ghostly realm. So even if they aren't forced to take a dirt nap by one of the many enemies of the game, they'll still fade away after only three or four turns. In most SRPGs there's no penalty for bringing all out your heavies right from the start, but in Phantom Brave you better keep a few ringers in reserve on the tougher maps or Marona might end up facing the menacing boss monster all alone. Though soon after, she'll end up joining her phantom friends in the hereafter.

Completing the game's story will take the average player anywhere between 30-40 hours, but that isn't all this game has to offer. You want the ability to customize your character by tweaking all of his stats, giving him nearly any skill in the game, and even shading him in one of eight colors? It's got that and you can do the same to weapons. You want limitless random dungeons where you can quickly level up your army and earn uber-powerful rare weapons? It's got that too, though the uber-powerful bosses wielding those weapons won't surrender them easily. You want nine optional bosses, complete with their own short stories? It's got you covered with some familiar and not so familiar faces. Heck, most of them will even join you afterwards.

You might be able to squeeze in everything this game has to offer in under a hundred hours, but why would you want to? Experiences like this don't come around too often. With near limitless freedom in character customization and a fast-paced battle system that makes virtually every fight incredibly fun, it's far better to relax and enjoy it while it lasts.


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