That’s right, Wii and PS2 owners; ‘Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle’ is coming to the Playstation Portable. Marona and Ash are taking their show on the road, and everyone’s invited.

If an uncanny sense of déjà vu accompanies this review, it’s for very good reason. Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle (PBHT) has certainly been around the block, with NIS releasing versions of the strategy-RPG (S-RPG) as far back as 2004. For previous owners of the title, not much has changed. A couple new characters to summon...and that’s about it. Still - and for the few, the proud, the Phantom Brave obsessed- its PSP offering enables reliving your favourite confine moments in brief, portable spurts.

For those new to the series, NIS is the undisputed King of the S-RPG, a company that Downtown Jimmy attributes to keeping the genre alive almost single handedly. Nearly all NIS titles feature some branch to the Disgaea Universe, and Phantom Brave is no exception. What separates said series within the NIS stable are subtle gameplay dynamics, ones that create semi-unique ways of tackling the S-RPG.

For PHBT, these distinctions lie in a fairly clever ‘confine’ system, where summoned phantoms are tethered to formerly inanimate objects. These objects –rocks, flower, etc. – offer character attribute upgrades in doing so. Phantoms, however, can only exist for a finite series of turns, meaning selection of objects and phantoms becomes of utmost tactical importance. Combined with available weapons/spells at each phantom’s disposal, strategy components are almost infinite.


Summoning these phantoms is the game’s protagonist, ‘Marona,’ a ‘chroma’ who any/everyone fears for her interactions with the undead. Marona and her team – lead by the phantom warrior ‘Ash’ - are mercenaries for good, out to rid various worlds of evil, counterpart spirits.

Akin to other S-RPGs, each playable character is of a certain job class, skills/upgrades appropriately tethered. What makes PBHT unique, however, is the ability for each character to impact other party members’ skills. Created blacksmiths can upgrade weapons for other spirits; fusion folks can literally combine characters and/or items. Thus, creating a character type can produce both battlefield and party success. A nifty touch.

PBHT likewise features a near-open environment where enemies, objects can both be ‘lifted’ and tossed...including off-screen. Lifting is an imperfect exercise, where attempts to acquire objects and/or toss enemies can fail miserably. Tossing enemies levels up existing ones, making this practice a calculated one...especially in lieu of limited turns for each phantom. Failure produces death...and the need to start over from the previous save point.

In practice, however, Phantom Brave's toss system plus touted open environments don’t feel as spacious as advertised. Still, they do provide some decent variability in ways to attack a level, and – in the process – keep things interesting. Also, this system avoids the irritancy of other S-RPGs where topography plays far too heavy a role in determining outcomes. There’s simply no reason that a terrained hill should trump a massively levelled up warrior’s abilities when encountering foes.

If there’s a primary criticism toward PBHT, it’s ridiculously complicated. Nearly every aspect of the game requires tutorial intervention, combined with trial and error to understand what the hell everything means in actual practice. The challenges are not insurmountable.

Also – and while a budget title clocking in at $20 – any game from 2004 will show its age. Graphics, voice-overs are dated and then some. Ditto on the clunky interface, where simply selecting enemies and/or ending gameplay turns can be a massively cumbersome exercise. Some of this can be attributed to limited interface options for the PSP...but also button mapping from seven years ago. Please Hammer, don’t hurt ‘em.

Finally – and having played, reviewed several of NIS’ most recent offerings – PBHT doesn’t pack the panache of its counterparts. It’s not that PBHT isn’t either robust or fun. Rather, it lacks the story development and/or near-addictive quality S-RPGs sport to encourage one more level, one more go-round. Bouncing back and forth between battles, home base, upgrade/heal, summon new characters....rinse, wash, repeat...felt orchestrated. A little more integration is sorely needed.


Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle is a solid translation of a classic title, with some new characters thrown in for good measure. Still, the game unfortunately shows its age in several areas, making it a must purchase for series and/or Disgaea fans only. There are better NIS S-RPG, PSP offerings out there.

  • Authentic translation
  • Clever ‘confine’ system
  • Nice price!
  • Not much has changed since 2004
  • Cumbersome interface
  • Better S-RPGs out there
Quote: "Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle is a solid translation of a classic title, with some new characters thrown in for good measure. Still, the game unfortunately shows its age in several areas, making it a must purchase for series and/or Disgaea fans only. "
Reviewed by Paul Stuart | 03.03.11

Similar Games: Z.H.P.: Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman (8.4) | Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days (8.5)

Phantom Brave
The Hermuda Triangle

NIS America
Nippion Ichi


US Released
January 2011



Players 1