Mar 2, 2013Phantom Breaker was a fighting game that came out a couple years back in Japan, and pretty much gave western civilization the finger in terms of coming over to play. Now we've been deemed worthy of the spin-off. While the first game was straight up one versus one, Battle Grounds goes the 2D beat-em-up route of Streets of Rage and Scott Pilgrim (more so Scott Pilgrim), with a focus on co-opPhantom Breaker was a fighting game that came out a couple years back in Japan, and pretty much gave western civilization the finger in terms of coming over to play. Now we've been deemed worthy of the spin-off. While the first game was straight up one versus one, Battle Grounds goes the 2D beat-em-up route of Streets of Rage and Scott Pilgrim (more so Scott Pilgrim), with a focus on co-op and combos over weapons.
Graphics consist of cutesy pixel-art recreations of what it would look like if a cosplay convention exploded all over itself in and around such gamer-hip Japanese locations as Akihabara. Whether or not you've grown tired of pixelated graphics, there's no denying the ones here being beautifully done, with stellar animation that's fast and clean. It's been a trend lately to go this route, but believe me when I say the art here is no imitation of facsimile. It's the real deal, and looks like it was made by veterans of the field. There would truly be times I would look past the chaos in the foreground to marvel over a particularly detailed backdrop, only to look back to see my character moving faster than I could process, with score multipliers firing numbers out of her skull with the ferocity of a mathematician's acid trip. As the wide-eyed anime girls kick the ever-loving out of monsters, androids and Harajuku girls alike, you may notice that not only is the whole thing nice to look at, it's rather fun as well.
Controls are set up to prefer d-pad and face buttons over precision stick swipes, and combos are often nothing more than pressing a couple buttons in tandem with a single direction. Not only does this let you fire off chained attacks at machine gun pace, it provides the button-mashers out there with an optimal set-up for freeform brutalizing without ever having to learn much beyond "panic fingers". It feels like playing at an old arcade machine, where any strategy from careful timing to sheer madness works fine. A power-up gauge provides a nice incentive to hold off stronger powers until you can chain together super combos, which can rack up insane numbers and damage when deployed correctly. An even nicer touch is how they break up the 2D plane into two layers, allowing you to hop back and forth between separate paths. Works well for strategic jumping and dodging.
Of course, this is all better with a friend (or three), as the AI can get downright mean in later stages, where devastating chain attacks can be deployed on you with only the tiniest windows of escape. Co-op here is either on or offline, with online having the benefit of not restricting all players to the same frame space. In other words, freedom to splinter off from the group, spreading the enemies out. Still, you can stick together and bounce enemies around between you, as it's possible to pull off team-up attacks. As a team, battles get frantic quickly, as the speed of the game tends to run high, and if one person is deploying an overdrive combo, everyone else slows down to what is essentially bullet time. It can be distracting or unfavorable in many instances, but it's still kind of cool to fight in slow motion as your friend tears through enemies at multiplied speed, or vice versa. Ah, who am I kidding? It's more trouble than it's worth...
Full review at http://www.bloodwcinnamon.com/rev/phantombr.html… Expand
X-ONE Magazine UKApr 23, 2013Under that pixelated good is a deviously complex fighting engine. This means it's not for everyone, thought. [Issue#97, p.71]
Apr 14, 2013With a solid fighting engine, plenty of room for customization, a copious offering of modes, delightfully oldschool graphics and sound and some solid controls, Battle Grounds is a game that should be played by anyone who loves nostalgic beat’em ups, especially ones that are very stylized and very Japanese.