|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Tom Create||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SEGA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 15, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
As far as production values go, The 3rd Phantom stands up fairly well. The visuals use very high-quality sprites during battle sequences, which feature tons of detail and resemble those used in the previous Bleach games on the DS. The sprites look especially good during battle scenes, where sprites spring to action for attack-specific animations. The only disappointing facet of the visuals is that the plot scenes only feature still images of character faces against generic-looking backgrounds. Although the character designs look a lot like those in the show, watching still images for long periods of dialogue can get boring.
The sound quality in the game is also good in parts, but like the visuals, it just doesn't get it right all of the time. The background music samples some of the tunes from the anime and varies nicely from moody plot scenes to high-energy battle music. However, the game features some infrequent voice-over work that only plays during battle. The decision not to voice the plot scenes definitely takes away from the experience.
Although Bleach: The 3rd Phantom is a competent RPG, it isn't on the same level as its fighting predecessors. Both Blade of Fate and Dark Souls on the DS had stellar fighting controls and superb online modes that put them head and shoulders above any other fighting franchise on the DS. Though I applaud the developer for going in a different direction with the third entry in the Bleach series on the DS, the transition to RPG has not produced the same type of excellence that the fighting series has.
Though this game will certainly please longtime fans of the franchise with it's original story, the lackluster RPG format relegates this title to the "fans only" designation. If you only care about the story, than Bleach: The 3rd Phantom is an adequate title. If you are expecting gameplay akin to the first two entries, however, you will surely be disappointed.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor