A decade ago, nearly to the day, was the first time we played the English version of Phantom Breaker on the Xbox 360 only for that version of the game to never see the light of day as the publisher 7Sixty quietly vanished. Now all this time later not only has this fighting game been given a few revisions in Japan resulting in Phantom Breaker: Omnia but another publisher wishes to give this anime fighter another chance in the West. This time around Rocket Panda Games has managed to release Phantom Breaker: Omnia to English audiences with every improvement made to the game intact, including a full English voice track but is this a fighter worth picking up?
Unlike many fighting games, Phantom Breaker: Omnia includes a lengthy amount of story content as nearly every character on the roster is given some sort of storyline. Of the twenty-two characters included in the game it is worth noting that only fifteen of them feature actual storylines as the two guest characters Rimi from Chaos;Head and Kurisu from Steins;Gate, two brand new characters, and certain other fighters are not given their own routes.
Nearly every character’s story involves a mysterious robed man named Phantom giving special weaponry to gifted fighters called Duelists who will do battle with one another with a chance at granting any wish they have being the prize. Depending on the character the story may see fighters side with Phantom, battle against his plan, or not care either way and it is nice to note that there are even some variations in these scenes as well with players often needing to do something a bit different from the norm to see these.
Nearly every storyline gives the selected character a chance to show off a bit of their personality, some being rather surprising compared to what they may initially look like so it is great to see such surprises come alongside the story as a whole. That being said, most storylines will progress at a fairly similar rate so don’t expect too much actual gameplay variety here outside of trying out nearly every character’s moveset. It is also worth noting that of the fifteen storylines, four of them are set after the events of the primary story arc so players will need to take care to save the Phantom Breaker: Extra arcs for last.
Now that Phantom Breaker: Omnia has arrived in the West it comes with a variety of gameplay modes, including a plethora of single player options. This includes the aforementioned packed story mode, an arcade style mode that pits players against nearly the entire roster in a row, a time trial that varies depending on selected character, survival fights, training, and of course a standard versus mode for local fights against a friend or computer.
Now training and even standard combat in Phantom Breaker: Omnia may be a bit unusual once players begin as there is unfortunately no way to pull up a command list within a fight. There are lists of moves for characters outside of fights, but this will be a bit rough at the start until players learn the ins and outs of their favorite characters. That being said, this won’t be too difficult as the game features a fairly simple input method for nearly every element of the game’s combat system. Most special moves can be executed with a simple directional push and pressing the “special” attack button while other maneuvers, such as Phantom Breakers, Overdrive, and Emergency Mode can also be activated in simple fashion.
Of course, depending on what style the player chooses for their character what moves they have access to will change. When selecting a character players will have access to Quick Style, Hard Style, and Omnia Style with each version having their own strengths and weaknesses. Quick Style offers far better combo capabilities including a few auto-combos as well as an Overdrive mode that speeds up the user while slowing their opponent at the expense of having a lower total health pool while Heavy Style removes double jumps and auto combos but instead offers a new harder hitting attack, more health, and an Overdrive that prevents the user from flinching when they take any damage. Both of these modes also feature the ability to use a powerful Phantom Drive attack, unique to each character, at the expense of 200% of their burst gauge.
The third style, Omnia, is something of a blend of both styles as players can still auto combo and have a solid amount of health, but instead can no longer trigger any Overdrive or the aforementioned Emergency Mode to escape combos. Instead Omnia offers an extremely powerful screen clearing, near unblockable, special attack at the expense of 400%. It will be up to players to figure out which style they like best but for many fighters, quick seems to be the most enjoyable of the three options as it offers the fastest movement capabilities without losing previous mechanics . That being said, every character is also given a brief description of their fighting style on the character select screen, such as being a close-range rushdown fighter or long range trickster so this may help influence some decision making.
Between the offerings of three styles and twenty two characters on the roster, there can be a lot to take in here, especially since there are even mechanics such as slipping past an incoming attack if players or their opponent move towards it at the proper time, but this faster paced fighting game really does feel like one that can be approached by anyone willing to give it a shot. It might not have the best training mode but thanks to its simpler inputs, players will be able to easily learn most of what their favorite fighters are capable of including putting together powerful combo strings of their own and testing their skills against others.
On the multiplayer side of things Phantom Breaker: Omnia offers a fairly basic selection of modes as there is only the choice between ranked and player matches, though it is nice to note that players can opt to standby for matchmaking in ranked matches and fight in single player while they wait. It is worth noting that while the game does not feature rollback netcode the few matches that we were able to get into ran without any issue even when our opponent presented with a poor connection.
Visuals & Audio
There is a certain amount of charm to how far Phantom Breaker: Omnia is willing to take its anime stylings to the point that the localization team even re-recorded an English version of the game’s opening theme for the game’s Western release. All of the fighters’ sprites are nicely detailed and feature a number of palette swaps that are immediately unlocked and nearly every character’s special Phantom Breaker move is a sight to behold. There is a nice level of detail as well that accompanies many of the story mode CGs though a few times a CG did not seem to properly appear during the mode and instead could only be seen in the gallery. That being said, the backgrounds for most fights do appear rather rough around the edges. It is nice to note that an art gallery featuring various pieces of promotional art, sales items, and even brand new artwork is included within the game with art pieces being unlocked by completing various simple challenges.
Alongside the original Japanese voice track Rocket Panda Games has brought in and recorded an entire English voice track for the game, including the aforementioned opening song “Let it all Burn” by AmaLee and even an English ending song. All voice work in the story mode and even combat is translated into English which is something of a rarity for an anime styled fighting game such as this though it is worth noting that the Japanese track does not feature quite as much detail.
Phantom Breaker: Omnia may not reinvent anime fighting games, especially since it took nearly a decade for its final version to arrive in the West, but it is a more than competent one. Not only is the game fairly casual friendly with its combat inputs, there is also plenty of depth to fights as well. It also happens to offer solid single player modes to make up for its simple multiplayer offerings, but those looking for something far more in-depth or active online may be disappointed.
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