Phantom Breaker Battle Grounds, from Mages/5pb, has been available on the Xbox 360 for over a year now but just recently hit the PSVita. Was it worth the wait? Yes, yes it was. The game is a perfect fit on the PSVita.
It's a throwback to old school beat 'em-up games. The retro sprite graphics really adds to the game, as you fight your way through different levels. On top of that, it's a colorful game which benefits greatly from the OLED screen.
Overall, the art for the characters and levels blends together really well. It's pure joy for the eyes.
They are adorable. Little chibi anime girls fighting chibi people and chibi monsters. What's not to love?
The combat is simple. It's a side-scroller with two levels, the top and the bottom. You have weak, medium and strong attack as well as special. As you level up, you have the ability to unlock more skills and stats.
Overall, the combat is straightforward and familiar to anyone who grew up playing side scrolling beat 'em-up.
The best way to enjoy side scrolling beat 'em-up is co-op. And this game has it, both ad-hoc (local) and online. Regular co-op however does skim over the plot and puts players straight into the action. Overall, the online co-op works decently well with a few hiccups and every now and then.
If helping your friend complete the game is not your thing, there is also an arcade mode where you compete for a high score. Of course, if you wish to fight against a friend, there is Battleground mode.
So there is a mode for everyone.
Chiptune tracks. You either like them or you don't. As far as Chiptune music goes, I really enjoyed it. The music works really well with the whole retro theme.
It's a spin off from Phantom Breaker (never made it out of Japan), so it's a little hard to understand the relationship between any of the character but that hardly matters as there are about enough lines to fill half a page anyway. All you need to know is girl goes to save another girl, and fight everyone in the way. Simple and clean like most retro beat 'em-up.
There isn't 150 DLCs to download instead there is just one. And it's going to cost you $6 (PSVita). So what do you get for a $6 DLC? You get Kurisu Makise and the level cap moved up to 99 instead of 50. It's expensive but for a game that's $12, and being a huge Steins; Gate fan, it was difficult for me to say no. (I bought it.)
The game works really well on the PSVita. The levels aren't terribly long, maybe 15 minutes to 30 minutes making it ideal for on the go play. Since the game is inexpensive and small (1.1GB), it's not a game that will break any retro side scrolling beat 'em-up fan's wallet nor memory card.