Also on: Xbox 360
While I never played Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds when it came out on XBLA last year, from the sounds of my esteemed Gaming Age colleague's review, it doesn't sound like much has changed now that the game is on the Vita. You're still geting a retro-inspired side-scrolling beat-em-up, you're still mowing down wave after wave of baddies, and you can still mostly get by — at least on the easier difficulty levels — by just spamming your attack buttons as quickly as possible.
Above all else, though, the thing that remains true is the conclusion: this is only a game to get if that last sentence appeals to you, because there's really not a whole lot more going on. There's certainly a bit more strategy at play if you try your hand at harder difficulty levels, but generally speaking, all you're going to get here is punch-kick-dash-throw-repeat, with the only real variation coming from your chosen character's special attack.
The good news — to use the term a little loosely — is that while Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds may be repetitive, it's also pretty short. While the game encourages you to try playing through with different characters at different difficulty levels in order to unlock every ability and trophy, the fact is you could easy beat the game with one character on one difficulty level in under two hours. That's not inherently a knock against the game, mind you. This is, at its core, an arcade game, which means that keeping things short and sweet is fully intended.
As for differences between this new Vita version and its XBLA predecessor, I don't get the sense there are a whole lot. Again, I'm basing my impressions on the 360 version entirely on our own review plus developer 5pb's website, but it seems as though the only real difference is the buttons. Specifically, anyone used to pressing X to confirm anything will be a little confused when they find out that pressing X here cancels your action — a holdover from the original Japanese version, apparently.
Apart from that, though, it's pretty identical. Which makes it easy to figure out who'll like Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds. Did you live through the late '80s and early '90s and you miss games like Double Dragon and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (or, at least, do you wish you had)? Then this game is for you. If not, you can skip this one without worrying you're missing out on anything.