Chances are the first time you’ve ever heard of Phantom Breaker: Omnia was the announcer trailer. They really did nail the marketing to get more eyes on this obscure 2D anime fighting game sequel. The genre is packed with familiar looking games and I genuinely thought this was a spin off from Vanguard Princess or Nitro+ Blasterz but it turns out Phantom Breaker: Omnia is essentially the Ultra Street Fighter 4 version of Phantom Breaker. Omnia is a massive update with more content and bringing Phantom Breaker to more people on newer hardware with more characters and features than before. With a new Spicy Edition update for Phantom Breaker: Omnia being added for free let’s see if it’s got some kick to it.
The first thing you’ll notice in Phantom Breaker: Omnia is the controls. Rather than your typical anime fighter, the focus isn’t on inputs and directions as all of the special moves in Phantom Breaker: Omnia work the same as Smash Bros. A direction and button results in a special move and the same with two buttons is the meter using special attack. Due to the simple controls, fights are more focused on meter usage and spacing. Phantom Breaker: Omnia has a shared meter in the middle of the screen under the timer working in a similar way to Under Night In-Birth. Once the shared meter is full you’ll both do more damage and it’s about making sure you’re in the best place once the timer ticks down and a lot more damage is caused.
Emergency mode is one of my favourite features of Phantom Breaker: Omnia. You can sacrifice your meter to get out of any move (even super moves) The Ai is pretty wise to this to and you’ll be figuring out a combo only to have them break out of it and punish you right back. The ability to use a ‘focus’ attack that also counter moves, sending opponents flying across the screen never gets old. It’s just a shame when you fully charge the move it doesn’t do as much damage as it feels it should. A lot of Phantom Breaker: Omnia is like this with some really big flashy attacks feeling weirdly lacking in damage but for the most part everything is balanced well.
What isn’t balanced so well is the visuals. Phantom Breaker: Omnia for the most part looks like a good 2D anime fighter but there’s a stage that spins in 3D that can induce motion sickness and at times the blur and flash just makes for a mess of particles. The 3D models for some characters look very basic and the style to try and make them look like 2D animations works for some characters but looks rushed for others. It’s a shame there’s so much blur and flash as when you get a combo rush going Phantom Breaker: Omnia really does feel like Melty Blood and the super character on screen moments is reminiscent of other great anime fighters.
Phantom Breaker: Omnia is absolutely packed with offline content which is great as the online is pretty sparse. It’s not the game’s fault really as even big titles like BlazBlue Cross Tag can be ghosted shortly after launch. Local matches are great fun with the large cast and easy to understand controls. Not only does Phantom Breaker: Omnia have the expected features of Arcade, Survival, Gallery and such but the Story mode is huge. Each character not only has their own story (with text and picture cutscenes) but optional objectives will unlock extra routes through the story fighting different characters. It’s a lot of bang for your buck and given the story is your typical ‘what if your wish causes the world to end’ affair you’ll likely get some fun from the character interactions had.
What’s quite surprising is how a cast of mostly girls isn’t packed with fanservice and ridiculousness. Makise Kurisu from Steins Gate appears as a guest character and the style of characters range from action guy who’s in every generic card fighter series to a classic maid and a magic girl pop idol. When selecting a character there’s a choice of fighting style between quick, hard or Omnia (being a balance of the two) but unlike Arcana Heart it won’t take a lot of thought to decide on the best setup. It clearly shows a little stat screen next to the styles to help you easily pick and it’s in little quality of life features that show the makers know fighting games. You can even setup input lag in the options to practice for the rare online fights.
It’s quite something to be enjoying an obscure indie feeling anime fighter more than a big AAA fighter like the recent King Of Fighters but here we are. Phantom Breaker: Omnia isn’t perfect but the fighting system is refined to such an extent that you’ll be hard pushed not to have fun. The graphics feels like a PS3 fighter with a fair bit of issues but the voice acting and music does a good job of raising the bar. If you’re after an enjoyable anime fighter on Xbox your choices are incredibly limited but thankfully Phantom Breaker: Omnia is a surprisingly enjoyable hit.
7/10 – Breaking the phantoms