Phantom Breaker US Release Still Maybe Coming!

In the midst of this flurry of Battlegrounds news, 7Sitxy decided to give a sort of update on the status of Phantom Breaker non-Battlegrounds. This is surprising as it is the first we have heard about the game in nearly a year!

Yes, for those of you unaware, the awesome looking beat ’em up is actually a spin-off of a low budget fighting game that was supposed to come to America a year ago! The translation is completely 100% finished, the game has been shipped to reviewers, shown at anime conventions, they even gave away some arcade sticks to celebrate the “upcoming” launch…only to get pushed back repeatedly.

This was due to a few factors. The first was a balance patch and netcode update that added a lobby system. As publishers have to pay money to put patches on XBox Live, 7Sixty opted to wait and include the patch in the game. However, a bug was found in the patch and so it had to be re-patched before getting a US release. 7Sixty worked very closely with the Japanese developers and with all the kinks ironed out the game was supposed to hit…back in June of 2012.

Fast-forward to August, when Amazon and GameStop cancelled their preorders claiming that the game was cancelled. 7Sixty promised customers it was not.

Then, in November we got the following message:

“Phantom Breaker update: First and foremost we apologize for the lack of communication from us in regards to the state of Phantom Breaker. We understand that you are excited to get your hands on the game. There are a number of factors going on behind the scenes that have prevented us from speaking out as to the fate of Phantom Breaker and until all avenues have been explored and all parties involved reached an agreement, the fate is still uncertain as of this time. We are listening and are working hard on finding solutions. Hopefully next post you see will have some answers. Thank you all for your support of the game.”

This was the last we heard about the game…until yesterday, when they gave an update:

“We want you to know that we appreciate your continued support of “Phantom Breaker”. We, along with you, have a great vested interest in this title coming to market. However, the current boxed game business model and shifting digital gaming trends have made it difficult to bring this game to market as originally planned. Please know that we are as disappointed as you are in the delay and lack of information regarding the game’s fate. This is not an official cancellation notice of the game, but it is a heads-up that it is at a point where it is difficult to release the game as planned. Thank you again for your patience. We hope to have a definitive word before too long, whether good or bad, on the fate of the game.”

As with many situations like this, specifics cannot be named. They have, however, said that due to contractual obligations they cannot do a digital release. It must be boxed.

However, perhaps the most disheartening thing is the lack of excitement for the game. Every fighting gamer on the planet took one look at the videos and said “This looks slow, generic, and boring. Where are the big damage combos?!”. Worst of all is hearing the game’s own fans say that it’s not worth it as the game is “mediocre/bad” and the “only good thing” about it is the artwork.

I could not disagree more.

Personally I had no interest in the game as the artwork and character designs were painfully bland. However when I found out the Asuka 120% team was involved and that there was a Japanese demo, I grabbed it and took a look…and was pleasantly surprised! Though it looks generic on the surface, Phantom Breaker is one of the most adventurous fighters I have played in a while!

You see, the game is built around simplified inputs. You have Weak, Medium, Strong, and Special attack buttons. Mashing Weak results in a 3-5 hit chain combo, Medium will get you 2-3 hits, and strong is usually 1 hit. Hitting different directions and Special results in different special moves, while Special+Strong and a direction (or Left Trigger) results in a Super Move. There are no quarter circles.

Now this may sound familiar to some of you. It’s EO/Simple Mode in many recent fighters. The difference is that in those games the option is tacked on and frowned upon, usually putting one player at a massive disadvantage. Here though, the entire game is built around it. This is the way it’s supposed to be played.

In spite of this it still has plenty of sub-systems. There is a universal counter and two different “styles” for each character, similar to Last Blade. You have plenty of combo options, it has the wanton clashing of Asuka 120%, and plenty more I haven’t really gotten into. Basically it’s got all the depth of something like BlazBlue minus the semi-complicated inputs.

But perhaps my favorite thing is the wanton combo breaking. You see, if you have 2 meters, you can break out of a combo. The thing is, your meter builds crazy fast! Just dashing at your opponent builds meter! So what this means is that while you are being comboes, you are building meter and can potentially break out of said combo. The result is that infinites and 100% damage combos are completely impossible! You’ll get maybe two loops off of your infinite before your opponent’s meter fills enough to break out.

Some fighting gamers are probably balking at this concept. I, however, love it. I spent a lot of time with the demo and the sheer amount of times the momentum of the match changed was mind boggling! It was some of the most fun I had with a fighter in a long time and I saw real potential in it!

Watch these match videos and pay attention to how often the momentum of the match shifts:

…then try and explain why more people are legitimately excited for Dive Kick than this game.

Regardless, I truly hope this gets a US release. I would love to review it as based on the demo I can already guarantee a positive review and a lengthy dissertation on the pros and cons of simplified fighting games.

If it doesn’t come out though, I’m importing. I want this.

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3 Comments on “Phantom Breaker US Release Still Maybe Coming!”

  1. Sleepy Says:

    I’m not gonna lie, I dismissed this game at first after looking at the trailers and seeing the negative reviews. However, you actually managed to convince me to give this game a chance if it ever releases here. Not to mention all of the blog posts you’ve been putting up for Battlegrounds have me really excited for that game too.

    Judging by your DOA 5 review, you seem to know a lot about fighting games. Do you think you can recommend me some fighters that don’t have such a steep learning curve?

    • GEL Says:

      XD I know many in the fighting game community who would STRONGLY disagree. I mean I LOVE fighters but like I said in my DOA5 review I’m not really “good” at them so keep that in mind.

      That said, fighters without a steep learning curve? Hmm…honestly kinda tricky. The weird thing with fighters is that no matter how simple they are, the high level play just gets ridiculous. I think Phantom Breaker may have had the only good way to prevent that with SUPER simple inputs but even then I can’t be sure.

      That said, the starting point EVERY fighting game fan will give you is Street Fighter II. It really is timeless and is the base on which all other fighters are built. I mean they still play Super Street Fighter II Turbo in tournaments so SSF2THD Remix is something.

      There’s a game called Battle Fantasia which you might be able to find in a bargain bin on 360 (download-only on PS3). It was the first 2.5D fighter to FEEL like a 2D fighter and it tried to be pretty simple and accessible. My advice though is to NOT play the catgirl as Koyori is both weirdly complex and incredibly limited in her capabilities. Don’t expect to see anyone playing it online though. Netcode isn’t that good anyway.

      Persona 4 Arena is…weird. It definitely tried to take the Phantom Breaker route yet both went too far and didn’t go far enough. Mashing X can result in some flashy combos and all specials are a standardized set of quarter circle inputs. However the high level play in this just gets weird. I haven’t looked much into it but I know it becomes a lot about self control and NOT using the X button combo. I will say that fans of Persona 4 owe it to themselves to pick it up since it’s very easy to play in single player and there’s plenty of story content.

      Past that, there is of course Asuka 120% if you can either import PS1/Saturn games, get ISOs, or download Japanese PSN games. The games are unusual in that they are super fast paced combo heavy 2D fighters that only use two buttons and very simple inputs (quarter circles and down-down motions, no shoryukens). Problem is that there are a LOT of versions of that.

      The BEST is Asuka 120% Burning Fest. Limited on SEGA Saturn. It actually features REALLY nice new sprites coupled with the classic gameplay.

      The WORST is Asuka 120% Burning Fest. Final on PS1 (and PC?), which uses the Limited sprites but is from a different team and tried to shoe horn in a bunch of crap (like an extra button). It’s not BAD but it’s not Asuka 120%.

      The best easy one to get would be Asuka 120% Burning Fest. Excellent (PS1). It plays just as well as Limited…but looks like crap.

      …annoying I know. Yeah I think I still like Asuka 120% more than Phantom Breaker to be honest.

      Beyond that it’s iffy. As I mentioned, games like BlazBlue DO have a “simple mode” but it’s usually looked down upon and brings with it some limitations versus regular play.

      Some folks might suggest the Naruto fighters (especially the Gamecube/Wii ones) or perhaps Bleach: Dark Souls on DS (it’s also from some of the Phantom Breaker/Asuka 120%/Guardian Heroes team) though that one felt a bit stiff to me.

      Bloody Roar 1/3/Primal Fury/Extreme is…interesting. The sheer number of moves means nearly any input will get you something. Lots of people consider it a mindless button masher and I’m still not quite sure if it’s accessible or not as convincing fighting game fans to give it enough of a chance to see what high level play would be like is difficult.

      On the other hand, you might have heard of Anarchy Reigns. I’m still not sure if that game is “simple” or “mindless” really, but I still argue that the single player is worth the $30 price tag. That one is more of a weird competitive beat ’em up than a “true fighter” though.

      If you want something straight-up Smash Bros.-style though, TMNT: Smash-Up still gets my nod. It’s sparse on content but it probably had the best 1 on 1 of any Smash-style game. That said, I hear there’s some kind of massive game wrecking bug with it but I’ve yet to get a clear answer as to what it is. Just that when I brought the game up at a convention someone said “Yeah it’s great if it weren’t for that one bug that turns the loser into the winner”.

      Sorry for the long post, but as you can see there’s no easy answer to this one. Nothing quite like Phantom Breaker has really been attempted yet and past that there are a lot of factors: How close to a standard fighter do you want it, how simple is accessible, and the ever present question of how the game changes in a competitive environment.

      I’ll ask some of my friends if they have any suggestions though.

  2. Billy Says:

    I wonder if the contractual obligation for a boxed release is tied to the inclusion of the Steins;Gate and Chaos;Head characters.

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