Our Score: 8/10
Brief Overview of the Games in the Collection
Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 1 includes two games: Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle Remastered and Soul Nomad & the World Eaters. Our review of the collection will contain no spoilers and we will only describe a brief plot synopsis of each game.
Since this collection is on the Nintendo Switch, you can now play these classic games while out and about. While it was possible to do this with Phantom Brave as it was released on the Playstation Portable, it was never possible to play Soul Nomad on a portable system until this release.
Phantom Brave was originally released in 2004. It had remasters which ported it to other consoles with added content. Phantom Brave: We Meet Again is a remake for the Wii, while Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle is a remaster of the original game on the Playstation Portable with many added features. The 2016 PC Steam release includes all the content in The Hermuda Triangle and We Meet Again, and this collection’s release also has all the content as well.
Soul Nomad in this release is a remaster with up-scaled artwork, releasing both in this collection and on Steam on August 31, 2021.
This bundle for the Nintendo Switch has both of these games and would be the most convenient way to play them unless you have older consoles or have a PC for the Steam releases. Even if you decide to play on older systems, you will be missing out on up-scaled graphics and possibly additional content and quality of life fixes.
Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle Remastered Review
Phantom Brave looks very similar to Disgaea, both in its UI and in its character artwork, but the similarities end there because its gameplay is vastly different.
The two main characters, Marona and Ash, need to buy their island or face eviction, and to do so they make money doing quests. Marona has the ability can call phantoms and uses it to do these quests and get money.
The game does feel a bit old in some ways, but at the same time it has up-scaled graphics with beautifully drawn character sprites. If you enjoy Disgaea’s visual novel style cutscenes, you will enjoy the cutscenes in this title.
The game’s main story is quite lengthy to get through. We would estimate it would take a new player 30-40 hours to complete the main story. If you add post-game content, you can get 100 hours or more out of it depending on how far you go to perfection.
We explained earlier that the gameplay in Phantom Brave is very different than that of Disgaea. The game provides plenty of tutorials to ease you into the gameplay, and there is a lot of depth to it. You can skip the tutorials as well if you have already played it before too.
A basic overview of the gameplay is that Marona can summon phantoms by confining them into objects temporarily. She is a weak character you need to protect so strategy does come into play. These phantoms that she can summon have a time limit so you need to be careful, and you cannot re-summon the same phantoms in the same fight once they leave.
When they do leave they will leave their object with you, which you can use to transfer traits and stats, kind of like the Innocent system in Disgaea. The more you use items, the more you can level them up.
You also have a blacksmith that can level up your items. Though the occupation blacksmith would imply working with metals, the blacksmith can level up items from books to rocks. It is complicated to summarize, but the game will ease you into it through great tutorials.
There is no Dark Assembly to pass bills like in Disgaea, but you can instead level the merchant to get better ranks of weapons for sale. You can also use fusion to combine items together and raise their max level. You also have Titles that give bonuses, which a character called the Titlist can transfer.
Like Disgaea, there are hundreds of skills and spells that can be used. There are no more square tiles to move your characters across. Instead, you move your characters within a certain circular radius, so instead of discrete movement you have continuous movement.
There is no armor, and instead you equip one weapon to a character. Though it may sound like a downgrade or simplification, there is a lot of nuance to the gameplay loop.
If you have played Disgaea in the past, this game would be a great game to try next because it the gameplay is a notch more complex than Disgaea. The game can be broken if you play it smart. The main story is not hard, but the postgame does increase significantly in difficulty. This is good if you are looking to master the game after beating it and are looking for an extra challenge.
The game is old and is very well-documented online if you need to consult guides thankfully, and you probably would want to because this is one of the deepest strategy games we have played. Depending on the kind of games you like this can make or break it for you.
There are certainly a lot of similarities between the two series and you are more likely to like this game if you like complex strategy RPGs, but it is not the same as Disgaea. The main takeaway is that the gameplay is very different than most strategy RPGs. This was true when it was originally released, and still holds true to this day.
The game is tonally more serious than Disgaea. Disgaea plays like a parody of JRPGs and pokes fun by not having a serious plot except for its beginning and ending. Phantom Brave, on the other hand, tends to be a lot more serious and dark. Without getting into plot-specific details, there are certainly many parts of the story that will make you tear up and it is heartbreaking seeing what Marona has to go through.
Overall, Phantom Brave was very experimental for its time, but we really enjoyed playing through this remaster. It is a dated game, but it has a certain charm to it, and we would certainly like to see more games like this in the future from NIS.
At the same time, this is not a game for everyone, which we have conveyed in this review. If you already feel stressed from reading our description of the game mechanics this might not be the game for you, but we would really encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and give this underrated title a shot.
Soul Nomad & the World Eaters Review
The premise to this game is that you are given a cursed sword that has the soul of Gig, an evil deity, who slowly takes over the protagonist’s body.
Your controlled character is not too prominent and it has mostly scenes of Gig speaking with your body in the story. You are also joined with your childhood friend, Danette.
Gig really does carry a lot of the plot in the game. He is extremely outspoken and oftentimes vulgar in his scenes, but the characters really do play off of each other well. Gig was so liked as a character by the fan base that he appeared as a DLC character in many of the Disgaea games’ post-games. At the same time, similarly to Phantom Brave, the game does feel aged and Gig does feel too edgy at times, but he is essentially is the backbone of this game.
The goal of the game is to defeat the World Eaters, monsters who used to serve under Gig, but now are defying him. To restore world peace, the World Eaters must be destroyed. The plot does sound like one you would see in any JRPG, but it is really not and this game breaks many JRPG clichés.
There is a lot of shock humor in this game. But at the same time, we can understand that Gig can be annoying. A lot of the dialog that Gig says in-game is definitely not politically correct for 2021 and the game can feel aged as a result.
If you have played games in the Shin Megami Tensei series, a good example is that Gig is similar to Dagda from Shin Megami Tensei 4: Apocalypse, except Gig is a lot more immature and vulgar than Dagda. The comparison we would make is that Gig and Dagda are both deities that have control over the player character that have most of the dialog in the game, and there are a lot of parallels between the narratives and presentations of the two games.
It is meant to be a game to laugh at the absurdity of it and if you enjoy dark humor you will get a good laugh out of the game. You will also enjoy this game far more if you enjoy anime-tropes, but it can feel childish at times. It really was a product of its time. Similar to Disgaea, having Gig as such an evil protagonist goes against what most JRPGs at the time were doing and serves as a refreshing juxtaposition.
Unfortunately, while the plot goes into great detail for Gig and Danette’s backstories, some of the other major characters you recruit get left behind in the later chapters.
The soundtrack for the game is great, with Gig having a really amazing theme.
Soul Nomad is still similar to Disgaea in some ways just like how Phantom Brave is. The interface, sound effects, and character designs make it apparent it was developed by the same company. But the gameplay is very different. The best way to describe it is that this feels like a war game, more akin to strategy RPGs like Ogre Battle, Langrisser/Warsong, or even The Last Remnant.
It is extremely similar to Ogre Battle in the sense that your characters form squads of characters to attack with. The placement of your characters in your squads is important. You move these squads with the squad leader across a battlefield grid to fight the enemy squads. A squad can contain up to 9 characters, one of whom is the squad leader.
You fight enemy squads with your squads. You can instantly kill an enemy squad by killing off its squad leader, but it is difficult to do so and does not happen often unless you are overpowered. You cannot control who the individual units in a squad attack.
To improve your squads you put them into rooms when you prepare for battle. You can decorate the rooms to have even better stat gains, but the effects are only temporary for a battle so you need to be careful with consumable items. Rooms can also be leveled up.
It is a deep game, but certainly not as deep as Disgaea or Phantom Brave. It is possible to grind for skills and levels by doing more fights. You are able to grind anytime and you can get overpowered.
Sadly, grinding for more levels does get a tad repetitive after a while, and the game is very difficult to get through without grinding. This game is a notch harder than Disgaea or Phantom Brave. You need to break the game and level your characters to have an easier time.
Without presenting spoilers, there is a completely separate route in new game plus after beating the main story the first time, which was present in the original release of the game as well. By choosing a new option in new game plus and choosing certain dialog options, you can do an alternate route through the game called the Demon Path.
It really is a completely different route through the game with cutscenes unfolding differently and a drastically different story. To put it simply, it is one of the best “bad” routes we have ever played in a game. Without spoiling, Gig does a lot more killing and is completely unhinged. It is not often you find completely different routes in games and it really feels like a bonus to go through the game again with the events going completely different.
Not many developers nowadays can do this because games have huge budgets nowadays and developers want the player to see everything in one route. On many occasions when games have alternate routes they will recycle a lot of content, but not in this route.
If you want to experience all the content Soul Nomad has to offer, you need to play through the Demon Path route. It is a lot faster than the first playthrough because you do it on a new game plus.
The only other comparisons we can make is Hyperdimension Neptunia 2’s “Conquest ending”, which was a separate bad ending the game had where one of the characters kill all of the other characters. It is also similar to the Langrisser 1 remake which featured multiple new endings including many bad endings, as well as Shin Megami Tensei 4: Apocalypse’s Anarchy Ending.
It is so much fun and adds additional replay value after completing the main story rather than a post-game. There are even extra endings in the Demon Path route depending on if you win or lose a certain battle, it is very fascinating all the work the developers put into the game.
The game is very lengthy, and we would estimate it would take 30 hours to get through the main story. If you pursue new game plus to explore all the other story routes, it would probably take you another 20-30 hours, so you would expect to spend 50-60 hours in total to do everything in the game.
In the end, this collection is a great way to play two remastered classic NIS titles on a new console. The versions of the games contained in this release are the definitive versions of the games as well.
We are hoping that the future volumes will have more of NIS’s popular classic titles such as Makai Kingdom, La Pucelle, and Rhapsody. For now though, Prinny Presents Classics Volume 1 has two games that will certainly take you some time to get through for the time being!