Phantom Crash
Game Info
Platform(s)
Xbox
Publisher
Phantagram
Developer
Genki
Genre
Mech Action
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Levels and mechs look great in action
• Menus are well designed

The Bad

• Cutscenes are boring
• Needs more arenas
• Very little strategy needed

 
Grade
B-

In the year 2025, the Japanese have moved to Neo Tokyo, leaving Old Tokyo to fall into ruins. A series of mech pilots create a Gladiator-like game, known as Rumbling, in the old city, where they pilot mechs called Scoobies into arenas to fight it out with other pilots. Winning in Rumbling earns the pilots money and a higher ranking, where one day they may fight against certain well-known pilots to rise through the ranks.

The game opens with an awesome CG sequence that looks like the battle is going on in the actual streets of Tokyo. The game's menu and character design is wonderfully executed and gives the game a personality that sets it apart from most of the competition. Mechs also have a certain style and design that's a nice change of pace. Phantom Crash's Scoobies are more rounded and have an anime bent to them (along the lines of Masamune Shirow). Levels are fairly sizable and capture the feel of a ruined cityscape converted into a gaming arena. I will say, though, that I wish there were some better lighting effects, especially during the night battles, and a more liberal use of visual effects.

Players will have three choices of manufacturer style (Holy, Aeron and Photon), but from there, they have a good bit of choice in customizing their Scoobie. The mech type really only sets what weapons and parts can be bought for the mech. When not Rumbling, you can go to a few locations, including your garage, a used parts shop, a few manufacturers to buy new Scoobies and even Sonic Amp, where the player can purchase new music to play in their Scoobie while in combat.

During the heat of battle, the control scheme itself feels fairly intuitive. Using the control sticks in tandem, the player can move around the arena with little effort and the Scoobies can use boosters to skid fast in certain directions. Arm weapons are fired using the triggers and the Y and B buttons fire back weapons. The Black and White buttons allow sidestepping, which can be used to dodge missiles and you even have access to a time-limited stealth camo. The fast and easy controls really play well to Phantom Crash's strength - quick, high-speed combat. Unlike some of the competition, this title really throws fast mech action at you, whether it be in the single player Quest Mode or in the multiplayer. You won't have to trudge around in a slow mech as every type of Scoobie seems to be outfitted to move about with quickness.

During a Rumbling, you'll have to navigate the area to find "power-ups", which are dropped from time to time and consist of more ammo, money and armor repair. Each enemy you waste will be worth money and at the end of the Rumbling, your earnings (minus repairs cost) will be totaled and can be used toward other purchases.

Outside of the Rumblings, you'll be treated to small cutscenes that develop the various other pilots, giving the player a sense of their personality. These sequences are told in barely animated "cut-out" sequences, which quickly makes the cutscenes boring and tedious. In fact, a lot of story sequences tend to be lengthy and boring and you'll probably want to skip past them as fast as you can to get along.

Phantom Crash has a fairly strong and energetic techno soundtrack that works wonderfully with the design and style of the game. Tracks from Dunkirk, Batangui, Tre, ByeByeGames and Kyo Ichinose are part of a large and impressively effective soundtrack that really adds to the style of the game. Sound effects are a fine compliment to the gameplay.

Phantom Crash is not without flaws, though. It won't take long before you realize that there are only three locations to carry out battles and that just about every battle has the same goal - destroy wave upon wave of enemies. Nothing more, nothing less. On top of that, you'll find that trying to create a strategy of any kind is ultimately useless. All you really need to do to survive is just find people to kill and avoid damage.

Phantom Crash provides a lot of potential, but I tend to think that Genki could have done just a little more with this title. Design, music and the flow of battle itself works great, but I really wished that there just was more to it - more arenas, more objectives, more reasons to go through the annoying puppet-shows that pass for cutscenes. If you can look past the shortcomings, you'll find yourself a fairly enjoyable mech title.

- - Vane

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