Bleach: The 3rd Phantom review

  • Rewarding strategy combat
  • Fantastic battle animations
  • Bleach's interesting universe
  • Dialogue, dialogue and dialogue
  • No options to make the game move quicker
  • Game drags between battles

Bleach: The 3rd Phantom, a strategy role-playing game developed by Sega and based on the popular anime, wants Advance Wars and Final Fantasy Tactics to notice it. Like a high school student with low self-esteem, The 3rd Phantom tries hard to fit in with different cliques, but ends up sitting awkwardly at lunch with the chemistry teacher.

Choosing between twin siblings Fujimaru and Matsuri Kudo, newcomers are given a speedy introduction to the Bleach universe. Saved from certain death by Seigen Suzunami, the twins grow up in his household and become Soul Reapers. As you beat up on piles and piles of hollows (creepy, corrupted spirits that eat people’s souls), the story moves from past to present, with familiar Bleach characters delivering obligatory fan service.

The grid-based combat starts off promising, but falters. Shaping an eight person battle party from a pool of over 50 characters is cool. Planning movements to better utilize support attacks, properly sucking up spiritual energy and juggling your characters against the rock-paper-scissors combat of power-speed-technique is as fun as the blaring butt-rock guitar licks suggest. Battling remains independent from your Bleach fandom; you don’t need to know Ichigo Kurosaki’s shoe size to enjoy the beautifully animated and entertaining battles.

The problem? Pacing. The 3rd Phantom moves through never-ending conversations like a Segway driving on an expressway, and the limited text speed options never alleviate the pain. Beat a battle, chug through the monotonous free time scenes, read boring dialogue (repeat this 19 times every chapter) and move onto the next battle. The game’s slow pace simply rips the fun out of everything. As it is, the only real zing The 3rd Phantom offers is the Bleach flavoring (which only fans will appreciate), but it's not enough to justify the game on its own.

Oct 8, 2009

More Info

Release date: Sep 15 2009 - DS (US)
Available Platforms: DS
Genre: Strategy
Published by: Sega
Developed by: Sega
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Alcohol Reference, Suggestive Themes, Mild Fantasy Violence, Mild Language
PEGI Rating:


  • Sunao - December 2, 2009 5:20 a.m.

    I will admit there is a lot of dialogue in the game, but if you're are a hardcore bleach fan and wanted to see all your favorite characters in a unique universe with it's own exclusive story then you'll enjoy it.
  • brian003 - October 21, 2009 9:04 p.m.

    The pacing of #rd is just what I expect from a SRPG, Tactics Ogre etc. What I don't expect is the game to be over when you lose 1 character. Less show more flow, I don't really like button mashing fighters but maybe I should give them a look. Bleach Dark Souls is getting pretty good reviews. I'm definitely having buyers remorse about this one.

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