If you’ve never visited Ivoire or missed the extra episode with Dark Marona, NIS America’s giving you another chance. Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle, the PSP incarnation of Phantom Brave that includes all of the content from the Wii port Phantom Brave: We Meet Again, plus a little more.
Let’s start at the beginning for players who haven’t played Phantom Brave before. Marona is the only living person on Phantom Isle. That doesn’t mean she’s alone though. She’s a Chroma and has the ability to see phantoms like Ash, who was formerly a Chroma alongside her deceased parents. Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle begins with the two taking on some odd jobs so they can earn enough money to purchase the island home from their landlord.
Unfortunately, while people are willing to hire Marona, they aren’t willing to associate with her. They’re afraid of the power she wields and the phantoms that accompany her. While Ash is her dearest friend, she has very few living people she can consider friends. Also, the Chroma Oxide Walnut seems determined to steal her bounties and take the credit, so she ends up with nothing.
While Phantom Brave sounds melancholy, it’s story is quite heartwarming. NIS America’s translation is wonderful. Marona’s situation isn’t pleasant, but it does improve and she eventually make friends, her first being Castile. Plus, her special powers could prove key in saving Ivoire from Sulphur.
There’s an additional scenario in Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle, which was originally created for Phantom Brave: We Meet Again on Wii. It presents an alternate storyline where darkness ravaged Ivoire already, with Marona being the only survivor. Marona and Ash don’t realize this though, until phantom versions of the most powerful beings on Ivoire, like Raphael, Walnut, Sprout and Bijou come and tell her what happened. She then sets out with her party and Carona, Marona from another dimension, to save Ivoire.
Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle requires a bit more thought than the typical strategic RPG. First, you don’t just summon units and let them fight until every opponent is cleared off the map. Marona is the only person is alive, so she initially comes to a battle alone. She then summons her phantom friends, confining them to items on the map so they can temporarily have a corporeal body and fight for her. You have to be careful who you summon and attach to certain items, since the rocks, plants and weapons on the field all have certain traits and properties, perhaps even protection statuses. For example, summoning a mage and having it possess a rock isn’t very bright. You’d do better to attach it to a flower or clump of grass.
You also have to be careful when moving. Phantom Brave throws away the grid. Each character has a circular area in which he or she can move. So you can move anywhere within that circle. Terrain elements (height or slickness, for example) could influence movement range as well. You could intend for a character to move next to an enemy to attack, but if the ground is slick, he or she could slide right past. Perhaps even off the map, resulting in an O.B. (out of bounds) and death for the character.
Leveling up is key. Marona creates phantoms on her home, Phantom Isle. Your first task is to try and have her summon fighters with good titles and traits. Then, you want to make good use of the Blacksmith and Dungeon Monk to make sure equipment has good abilities and is strong and to generate random dungeons to explore and level up in.
If there’s one thing NIS knows how to handle, it’s ports. Given how many times we’ve seen Disgaea, it’s practically second nature. So Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle loses nothing in the translation. The audio, visuals, control and gameplay all feel exactly like they did when the game was Phantom Brave (PS2) or Phantom Brave: We Meet Again (Wii). I think it actually looks best on the portable. The widescreen presentation suits the event scenes. I also preferred the PSP controls to the Wii controls, since it was pretty much identical to the original PS2 release. Plus, the Another Marona scenario uses all the same voice actors from the original game.
NIS America also had a bit of consideration for PSP owners when they released Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle. They must realize that the people picking it up would be repeat buyers, so the PSP port starts out at the bargain price of $19.99, instead of $29.99 like the Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness and Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days. It’s a nice gesture, and I’m sure it’ll help encourage people to download or pick up a UMD.
The PSP port of Phantom Brave‘s newest editions are more characters. They’re all iconic, and I’m sure NISA fans will enjoy seeing them. You may run across Asagi, the perpetual NIS bonus character, Zetta (Makai Kingdom), Hero Prinny (Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero?), Unlosing Ranger (Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman) and Castile, who’s been limited to a Phantom Brave NPC position until now.
Phantom Brave is a familiar face to Siliconera readers. After seven years, we’re all familiar with the plight Ivoire and the effect one young Chroma named Marona has on it. It’s a classic, strategic RPG with a presentation that almost comes across like an anime series with lovable characters. If you haven’t played Phantom Brave since the original PS2 release and have fond memories of it, or never played the game at all, then you should definitely look at Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle.
Food for Thought
- With all these PSP ports, I wonder if we’ll ever see a portable version of Soul Nomad or Makai Kingdom. (I’d really love to play Soul Nomad on the go!)
- As nice as the Wii version of Phantom Brave was, the game seems to fit better as a portable adventure.
- It’s handy that, unlike other NIS PSP ports, you don’t have to unlock the Another Marona scenario. It’s in the main menu at the start.
- Considering all the voice acting, I was surprised that Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle was only just over a 500mb download.