Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds Overdrive Review [PS4]

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Last year, I reviewed the excellent PS Vita brawler, Phantom Breaker Battle Grounds. I really liked it for its excellent combat system, fast gameplay, and nostalgic feel that brought back memories of games like Double Dragon and Final Fight. For 2015, the game is back as Phantom Breaker Battle Grounds Overdrive for the PS4 and features quite a few upgrades over the original portable version.

For the most part, it’s the same game but includes quite a few notable upgrades. The main one for me is the ability to finally play the game with a friend via local multiplayer.

Story

The story remains unchanged from the original version. The story follows the adventures of Mikoto, Waka, Itsuki and Yuzuha and their quest to rescue a young girl named Nagi. Nagi was kidnapped by a mysterious man known as Phantom who plots to regain his sealed powers. Phantom does this by giving special weaponry called Fu-mantion Artifacts to youths with special abilities. Because of such weaponry, a rift between this world and another occurred causing the seal to break.

If you’ve played the original one on the PS Vita, nothing story wise will surprise you.

Gameplay

Here is where things are a bit different from the original. The core game itself is the same and features the same, chaotic old school beat’em up gameplay you loved, but turned up to 11. There seems to be more enemies on screen at once which translates to more enemies you can attack which means more action packed fun. Moves in the game are preformed the same way as before too with most just requiring a direction and a button press or a combination of two buttons at the same time. There’s no tutorial type level to learn the moves on as you are basically thrown right into the game and straight into the action but you can bring up the help menu that has a guide on how to play and perform all the moves.

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As you play, you’ll earn points that you can use to upgrade each of your characters special abilities. Overdrive includes even more skill and abilities you can unlock over the original for deeper character customization: Triple Jumps, Air Dash Attacks, Shadow Clones, and more.

Another gameplay change with the Overdrive version is the now, you can play co-op with a friend whether it be online or local. I don’t have any friends to try this out with online, but I was able to give the mode a try locally. Local multiplayer is done via screen sharing and not split screen. In local multiplayer, the screen no longer zooms in and out as you swap between the foreground and the background. This makes it easier to see what’s going on on both planes. What’s neat about co-op is that your partner can revive you if you go down, meaning you have a much better chance at survival when playing with another friend.

Presentation

I really like the look of Phantom Breaker: Battlegrounds Overdrive. It’s pretty much the same as the PS Vita version so much of what I stated in my previous review applies to this review. It sort of has that old school original PS1 style graphics so it’s not as retro as it might first appear. There’s actually a fair amount of 3D elements in the game though many of the main playable elements look sprite based. In fact, it looks like all the levels are entirely done in 3D with a cell shaded style look to them. The characters have that super deformed look that you would normally associate with Japanese developed games. They are however very well designed and feature a good variety of movements and actions.

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All of these elements combine to form a great looking game. There’s not much to dislike when it comes to the graphics. I just really like them as they do have a very Japanese, anime style to them which I enjoy here, especially with the whole theme and character designs. It works very well here.

There are graphical improvements seen on the PS4 version over the PS Vita edition. The art seems crisper and more detailed and the PS4 is able to handle way more enemies and other elements on screen. This is especially noticeable when enemies explode in a shower of items. There just seems to be way more on screen at once and that’s a very good thing. Not only that, the lighting effects on this version are so much better as well. The game as a whole just looks so much better on the big screen.

As for the audio, the game is jam packed with original music and sound effects. Again, much of it is very “Japanese” sounding and adds to the overall theme of the game.

Final Thoughts

Phantom Breaker Battle Grounds Overdrive on the PS4 is even better than the original version on the PS Vita. It adds some significant update, but my favorite is the fact that a friend can jump in and play on the same screen without the need for another device. The PS Vita version required another PS Vita to enjoy multiplayer. This is pretty much the same game I enjoyed on the PS vita, but on a larger screen with more explosions, more enemies, more items, more moves, and just more of everything!

If you’ve played and enjoyed this on the PS Vita, you’ll probably want to pick it up for the PS4. The experience is just better in every way, the the gameplay is pretty much the same. Those new to the series will want to pick it up as well as it’s a nice throwback to the days of fun, over-the-top beat’em ups with plenty of action and mayhem.


Review code provided to us by the publisher/developer.

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