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Bleach: The 3rd Phantom - Impression

Bleach: The 3rd Phantom
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega
Release Date: 09.15.09

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The Phantom is Watching You

I love strategy RPGs, but I can honestly say I've never been much of a Bleach enthusiast. It's never been one of those animes or mangas that's grabbed my attention, and so my only real knowledge of the series comes in passing whether it is through anime conventions or friends. While I was trapped in the waves of people, my boyfriend pointed out to me that Sega had a demo for Bleach: 3rd Phantom, so, on his suggestion, I decided to try and test the game out for myself. Bear with me Bleach fans, here's hoping I don't butcher any character names in the process of this impression.

"If you're a fan of Bleach and SRPGs, this might be a match made in heaven for you."

Bleach: 3rd Phantom is essentially fun Bleach fan fodder. At the beginning of the demo I had the chance to choose between a female or male protagonist, although from what I understand the story will differ depending on which protagonist you select. When I began the demo, I was thrust into Rukon District which is heavily under attack by demons, with my allies Aizen, Suzunami and Urahara. While I selected the female protagonist, I did not have the chance to play as her in my brief demo.

First thing players will notice is that the game plays fairly similar to Final Fantasy Tactics. Players face off against the enemy in an isometric viewed battlefield. When the players and enemies attack, the game moves from the isometric point of view to a side view. Characters can perform combos when they attack and will always have the chance to counter an opponent when it is the enemy's turn. Before the battle begins, players have the chance to input commands before they perform their attacks. It is also possible to have tag-team attacks if the player's comrades are next to the same adversary. It is also important to note that each character in the game has a unique special ability and can learn more special abilities as they level up.

As for the visuals, I was very impressed. It's a very nice looking DS game, and the sprites are crisp and cute. The side view animations are also solid looking. For those who love Bleach, this game will be a joy to play, as there are a vast number of new and old characters to recruit, and the story was written by Tite Kubo himself. For those looking for a challenging SRPG, this might not be it, as it's a fairly simplistic SRPG to learn. If you're a fan of Bleach and SRPGs, this might be a match made in heaven for you.

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