Bleach: The 3rd Phantom First Impressions

The Bleach series takes a tactical turn with party-based combat in this new action role-playing game for the Nintendo DS.

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The first two Bleach games released for the Nintendo DS were fighting games that allowed players to duke it out head-to-head with a variety of characters from the Bleach universe. The third Bleach game, appropriately named The 3rd Phantom, is a departure from the fighting genre. Taking an isometric view typical of many role-playing games, The 3rd Phantom challenges players to assemble squads of characters and do grid-based battle against legions of dark enemies. We checked out this sizable handheld adventure and got a feel for Bleach's take on tense tactical action.

The 3rd Phantom travels 100 years back into the past before the start of the Bleach series. The story will reveal the origins of many beloved characters and show how many of them came to be allies (or enemies, as the case may be). As the adventure progresses, players will draw closer and closer to more familiar events, eventually overlapping with events of the manga and the anime. Though the party size is limited to eight characters at a time, we're told that by the end of the adventure, you can have closer to 30 characters available, with still more available to unlock.

Characters will have unique abilities and moves that not only resonate with their personalities but make them tactically unique. They can also level up, boosting their attributes and forcing you to make choices that will take them down different paths of their specific branching skill tree. As in any game with party-based combat, it's important to keep your party balanced in order to handle the various enemies that will come your way. The 3rd Phantom will encourage this, but it will also throw you some plot-driven curveballs that will force you to revisit your battle strategy.

A key component for battlefield success is making sure your characters can work together. Characters develop relationships with each other along the lines prescribed by the plot and by whom they fight alongside most often. Once two characters form a partnership, they can unleash powerful team attacks that will deal some serious damage to your enemies. Some characters can also buff or defend their teammates automatically if they are positioned adjacent to them on the battlefield, so strategic troop movement is another key to victory.

In addition to following the main plot arc, you'll regularly enter free time that will allow you to pursue any number of side scenarios. These scenarios often enable you to recruit new characters to join your party, so taking the time to complete them can earn you tangible rewards. Choosing certain scenarios will determine which scenarios are and are not available in the future, so it won't be possible to complete them all on your first play-through.

Once you complete the main story, you unlock the Bleach tower. This is essentially a gladiatorial arena that contains 30+ levels for you and your party to conquer. Varying victory conditions and the ability to take full advantage of your unlocked roster should make the tower a great place to flex your finely honed tactics or, perhaps, try out a few new battlefield strategies.

You'll also be able to battle a friend locally, though there won't be support for the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Though The 3rd Phantom is a departure from Bleach's DS history, it looks to be an exciting one that will give the Bleach faithful and action RPG fans something to look forward to later this year.

Discussion

27 comments
Gammet25
Gammet25

I got the game and i have to say the story and dialogue is pretty entertaining even though the beginning of the arrancar arc is pretty familar. Combat's good but not the most hectic.

vandimer
vandimer

I'm really hoping this game has a Fire Emblem sort of feel to it, I haven't played a tactical game in far too long. This will be my first Bleach game, so my fingers are crossed. Nine more days!

Skithien
Skithien

Nine more days! I have it preordered so I'm really excited!! That'll be a nice second week of school gift, lol.

allblacks448
allblacks448

wow this is awesome!!! I am a hardcore bleach fan as well as a hardcore rpg fan and tactics are one of my faves!!! This is the game for me. i cant wait and yet sadly i have to.

bugside
bugside

cool, bleach has got too mutch depth of plot not to have an rpg title yet

DBZMaNiAc04
DBZMaNiAc04

Pleeeeeeaaase put Bleach on PS3 or 360!!! Game looks awesome too lol

Shadow_Fire41
Shadow_Fire41

the screenshot kinda reminds me of Fire Emblem mixed with Yu Yu Hakusho Tournament Tactics..............i like the look so far.

Distinctive_Fin
Distinctive_Fin

With the Wii Motion Plus doing so well, I thought that Bleach would get another go for the Wii before another (slightly useless looking) title was put out on the DS. . .

beny_pimpster
beny_pimpster

i was hoping it be like the 1st 2.....ah man

Skithien
Skithien

I read on the Bleach Wika that the release date was September 9th. I hope it is cause I really want this game. I wish the Wii would get better Bleach titles.

Jtg0
Jtg0

I normally don't go for anime based game, but this one seems to have a lot of potential. I'll definitely be checking it out.

Silent_Raven92
Silent_Raven92

I love Bleach, but having played the Japanese import of this, I didn't really like it much. The turns go rather slow, (even the announcement at the start of each turn kills the pacing), and the difficulty tends to spike randomly. Some things regarding spells were also quite confusing (such as when you can use them), but granted that I don't understand Japanese very well, that's to be expected. Nonetheless, I'll give it another go when it comes out in English, and hopefully a better understanding will quash my complaints

Will47
Will47

Darn I was hoping it would be like the first two.

TheFox-13
TheFox-13

Come on! Release date please...

rizalariff
rizalariff

nice! i've been waiting for some news on the game for a while now but.. no exact release date yet??

kittenmanger
kittenmanger

if it is what it looks like then ill be pre ordering it

uchihaschamp
uchihaschamp

im a bleach fan but i dont like it y cant we just kill each other well there is a game coming out in japan called flame bringr ill compare it ninja council series

Elfstrum
Elfstrum

Go Bleach!!! Manga based RPG -sure why not

gordos24
gordos24

hope this game has the japanese voices

GSgirl
GSgirl

My christmass list is getting bigger and bigger

xenonick23
xenonick23

I figured at this point they would have a more concrete release date

SonicBullet
SonicBullet

Turn-based RPGs ftw! xD Anyway it sounds cool, I'll be sure to grab one.

Kman8909
Kman8909

Sounds cool, if you are a bleach fan, that is.