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.