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Phantom of Inferno (Interactive DVD Game) PDF Print E-mail
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R1 DVD Reviews
Friday, 25 February 2005 04:35
Phantom of InfernoAfter my glowing review of Phantom the Animation, I was tipped off that the game on which it was based was available in an English-language version.  It took me all of about five minutes to place an order, and now here it is - Phantom of Inferno, which according to producer Hirameki's blurb is "the game that defines the anime generation".  No holding back on the hyperbole, there.  Does it live up to the hype?  Does anything?

When I was a kid, we used to get 'Fighting Fantasy' game books - to play the game, you read a section of the book, and at the end of each section you were given several choices - each choice led to a different, new section of the book, and the way the story unfolded depended which choices you followed.  You could read the book 20 times and get 20 variations on the story.

Nowadays, 'interactive DVD' does the same thing, and Phantom of Inferno is very much a modern Fighting Fantasy book, allowing you a certain level of control in the life of Zwei, a young Japanese man who as been kidnapped by underworld organisation Inferno & forced into life as an assassin - you can read our previous review of the anime to get the feel of the story, as the anime follows the early part of the game very closely.

Phantom of InfernoPhantom of Inferno

You would think that the DVD format would allow for great presentation, but here's where the game runs into its first problem - DVD is actually quite limited in the amount of good-quality video you can cram onto a disc.  If the game used the quality of animation found in the OVA, you'd get at most around 2-3 hours of video on the disc, which would make for a very short game by the time you allowed for different paths through the story.  As a result, the creators have cheated - the story is presented as a series of essentially still clips, with the story presented by way of a voiceover.  Every so often, the story stops, and you're either presented with a password (taking the place of a save-game function, which DVD can't otherwise provide), or with a choice of what you want to do at that stage.

Here's problem number two - I played through just over an hour of the game before starting on this review.  In that time, the story progressed very little, I was given the huge total of three story choices, and I fell asleep twice (sleeping time not included in the hour of playing time!).  If this defines the anime generation, there must be a lot of sleeping anime fans in the world.

Phantom of InfernoPhantom of Inferno

I want to enjoy this game, but so far there's been precisely nothing to grab my attention.  Knowing where the story goes means I know enough to keep playing & find out what happens after the point where the anime stopped, but the Maker alone knows how I'm going to be able to stay awake to do it.

In the meantime, I'm calling this an 'interim' review, as it'll take me a good while to work through the game to the point where I see something new - hopefully, the pace picks up as the game goes on.  It needs to, otherwise this is a wasted opportunity.  Watch for more on this later...

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