Phantom Breaker: Omnia is the sequel to an Xbox 360/PS3 title I had never heard of – one that never made its way out of Japan. More interestingly, it ties into the fantastic beat ’em up Phantom Breaker: Battlegrounds which was ported to just about everything. Is Phantom Breaker: Omnia worth shouting about? Let’s find out!
Something Old, Something New
First off a quick visit to the publisher Rocket Panda Games website tells me that this is an update rather than a completely new title. Think Street Fighter II to Street Fighter II Turbo, only in this case, it’s from Phantom Breaker: Extra (2013) to this title Phantom Breaker: Omnia. That said, Extra itself was an update to the original Phantom Breaker.
The game is set in Tokyo and starts with an old man called Phantom setting up a tournament and providing the cast with ancient weapons. Should they survive Phantom promises to grant any wish they so desire.
It’s a set-up that could only really exist in the fighting game genre and one that you’ve seen time and time again. It’s there purely for window dressing and to have the 18 original and 2 guest characters interact with each other.
The story is told through static screens with text and voice acting. There is no movement from the character art in these scenes. Instead, it just transitions through the usual spectrum of emotions like over the top happy, shocked, and let down.
The Story Mode does take center stage. Rather than just having you wade through it with reckless abandon, it has conditions to further your progress. For example, no losses or perform X amount of dash attacks a match.
You’re Gonna Burst!
That little section wonderfully ties into the game modes on offer in this title. Thankfully it’s “bursting” with content.
There is the previously mentioned Story Mode. Beyond that, you can find a standard versus mode, arcade ladder mode, score attack, time attack, endless battle, training, and of course online featuring Casual and Ranked options.
As Phantom Breaker: Omnia is an anime fighter and has fully embraced the fact with “That” trailer you are right to expect it to have a plethora of technobabble and mechanics strewn around the place.
Every character essentially has 3 versions.
- Quick Style allows you to double jump, build a meter to get faster while slowing your opponent down, burst cancels out of combos, and perform faster combos.
- Hard Style hits like a tonne of bricks at the expense of speed. It gives you a unique attack and bolsters defense using the special meter.
- Omnia mode is the middle ground between both. It has the double jump of quick style, but has a unique attack should your special meter hit 400%. It also has a really handy auto combo mode.
Then meter plays a big part in Phantom Breaker: Omnia. It’s built up over the match usually with successful attacks made despite hitting the opponent or otherwise. This meter allows you to enhance your standard special attacks, launch super special attacks or use your mode-specific abilities.
On top of the special meter, you also have a tension gauge which you share with your opponent. This is built through clashing which is when your attack hits their attack, this can also be done by dashing into each other. When this hits 100% you both hit harder and you get an instant 100% fill up on the special meter.
Without filling this review up with an almost tutorial level of detail you have several means of defense, standard block, a dodge that is unique to Speed and Omnia, and a more parry-like blocking system for Hard mode.
Alongside the above you have the genre standard cancels, guard cancels and other mechanics you would usually find in a fighting game. If nothing else, it does provide you with ample ways to throw down in the arena with its combat options.
The Sins of the Genre
As mentioned the cast is made up of 18 original characters for the series and 2 guest characters, Kurusu from Steins;Gate and Rimi from Chaos;Head, the latter of which has an upcoming English release. They head up this mostly female cast of over-the-top anime clichés riddled with fanservice and questionable ages.
While Phantom Breaker: Omnia has all the components to be a belting anime fighting game like Blazblue and Guilty Gear it doesn’t quite hit the mark. You’ll have to bear with me as to why.
First off, special attacks are done with a single button press and a direction. While this is incredibly user-friendly, old-guard players like myself are going to find this incredibly awkward and need a good adjustment period.
The amount of options in terms of offense and defense means you’ll spend a lot of time trying to adjust in terms of what mode you’ve picked. This could be stretching your muscle memory thin.
The characters even in “Speed” mode still feel rather sluggish and weighty, it could be the start-up frames for everything but it never once felt “right” compared to its peers.
Finally, the damage doesn’t feel consistent and the pacing of matches sees them either fly by without you knowing what’s going on or last for an insane amount of time as health can regenerate from an additional health meter.
A combination of the above made the game feel rather stiff and awkward to play. I never felt my groove when in battle and this could either be a personal issue with the title or the sum of its parts not quite clicking in the way it should do.
Just Like One of My Japanese Manga
Visually Phantom Breaker: Omnia nails the presentation. For the most part, character sprites are well-drawn and have a wonderful HD shine.
The game is colorful and vivid with various effects to show off. One example is when special moves are performed you get a close-up character art. There are plenty of sparks and explosions when clashes and bursts are performed too.
The stages are fine for the most part though very barren in terms of animations going on in the background. Players have been spoilt over the years with the offerings from SNK and Arc, but the lack of animations in the background does make them feel more placeholder than actual areas.
The music matches the general aesthetic of the game. It features a full English dub for the cast in story mode and during battle too. Nothing really as a standout but does make it easier to turn off through the lengthier dialogue scenes.
While Phantom Breaker: Omnia has all the tools and look of the next big fighting game it doesn’t quite have the feel. The lack of a playable tutorial certainly doesn’t do it any favors either.
I would imagine fans of the franchise will lap this title up and the crossover content could bring a few fresh eyes over, but as a fighting game in a genre that’s made such a strong comeback over the last decade, it doesn’t do much to differentiate from the cream of the crop or the more cult fighters such as Melty Blood or Arcana Heart.
WAIT FOR SALE ON PHANTOM BREAKER: OMNIA
Many thanks goes to Rocket Panda Games for a PC review code for this title.
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