Like painfully slow turn-based strategy games with tons of story like Final Fantasy Tactics? Like Bleach? Then you might enjoy Bleach, the Third Phantom for the Nintendo DS.
The story begins in the past, back when Urahara was still a captain in the Gotei 13, and follows the story of one of two selectable characters: a male or a female. The story will eventually flow into the “modern time” era, with Ichigo & gang and into the Hueco Mundo arc.
Because this game came out before Kubo created the “Pendulum Flashback Arc,” the entire past story is changed. There’s a new, game-created, captain that doesn’t appear in the manga/anime, and none of the events that you see of the past now happen.
They’re surprisingly not bad. Sure, the characters appear as chibis, but they look just like their fully drawn counterparts. Lots of stages are colorful and the hollows look pretty cool (although they soon start repeating).
Gameplay & The Game
This game is sooooooooo slooooooooooooowwwwwwwww!!!!! With that said, it’s a nice strategy game. As expected, and similar to FFT, you can select which character you want to move, which way you want to move him/her, if you want to attack, use a special, use an item, etc etc etc. Most of the game is simply “kill all enemies on the screen” but occasionally there’s variety, such as “save these souls” (and send them to Soul Society) or “stay alive for XX turns.”
If you’re going through story mode you’ll notice there’s a LOT of dialog to read/hear. And of course it’s all in Japanese. And it seems never-ending. Eventually you come to a point where you can pick your characters and enter practice, which allows you to try the stage for exp without the risk of game-over or just going head on into the battle itself. I’d highly recommend you do the practice over, and over, and over, and over to level yourself up. The stages go from “eh, I could do this in my sleep” to “ZOMG WHAT WAS THAT? I DIED IN ONE HIT” extremely fast.
There’s other modes that appear when you beat the storyline that allow you to unlock more characters. Seeing as how I’m not that far yet, I can’t really elaborate much on those.
Did I mention the game is slow? Selecting characters, moving, attacking/whatever and then having to wait on the AI to do the same with their characters can be painfully boring. Unlike the Shining Force series, which I’ve always praised as being a really fast strategy game, this game just moves so slow. I seriously cannot stress this enough. It’s probably just as slow as FFT, if not slower.
You have to have a LOT of patience for this game due to this fact. Some missions have upwards to 20 hollows on the screen and you can control up to 8 characters. One mission might last you 30+ minutes. I am NOT joking when I stress that this game is slow.
The opening song (残り風 [Nokori kaze] performed by Ikimono-gakari) is pretty good. I like it a lot. The rest of the music, however, is not really all that noticeable. I mean, it’s there but you won’t write home to your friends about it or find yourself humming it. Not great, not terrible either.
+ The graphics are pretty cool for a strategy DS game.
+ All your favorite characters are there, even if they do take awhile to get to. This includes characters that no other Bleach game allows you to play as.
+ You get to choose what type of zanpaktou release your main character gets when you get to that point of the game. There’s three types and they all have their strengths/weaknesses. I thought that was pretty cool.
+ The story seems to be pretty neat, even if I don’t get 100% of it.
+ PAINFULLY SLOW!!
+ Extremely difficult. As aforementioned, this game can go from easy to it hurts difficulty in a single mission. Thus..
+ You spend a lot of time leveling up. Sometimes this isn’t possible (like when you first use Ichigo & gang) making some missions pure luck.
+ SLOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWW OMG IT’S SLOOOOOOOOW!!!
Yes, I do like this game but I also have to do my leveling up on an emulator where I can set it to 2x speed. If I had to do it at normal speed I think I’d hate this game to the point of never touching it again. So I basically say, you have to be a true Bleach fan and really have patience in order to enjoy this game fully. That or a 2x speed emulator that you can breeze through the missions/battles.
A few other things to mention: this is the game that I was part of a translation team for. Unfortunately, the translation was pretty much axed early on so the patch for it only has a few menus and items translated. :/ But never fear because the game is going to be released in English on September 15th, 2009!
I might have to play it in English just so I can comment further on the actual storyline and to see how well the translations I was doing compares to the official release.