thrdphantomBleach the Third Phantom is the fourth Bleach video game released in the U.S, and the first that isn’t a one-on-one fighter, but rather a strategy RPG akin to Shining Force. The game is loosely tied to Bleach continuity, and it starts several years before the start of the series. The Third Phantom stars a pair of twins (one of which you choose and name beforehand) who are attacked by a hollow in the Rukon district. Afterbeing rescued by a group of Soul Reapers (including younger versions of Kiskue Urahra, Soske Aizen, and Kaien Shiba) the two decide to become Soul Repaers themselves. When a powerful enemy attacks the Soul Society, the twins shunted forward in time to the modern day where they meet Ichigo and his allies. There are around 60 playable characters, and nearly every major player in the Bleach series makes an appearance.

The game is a bit too dialogue heavy. Although you can fast forward through it, you can’t skip the long conversations. This lengthy text might scare away players with shorter attention spans. At least much of the game’s scenes are organized in a minigame, where you can gain more insight into many of Bleach’s characters, and you can even unlock new characters and items. While the combat is nothing spectacular, you can team up with teammates while attacking an enemy for offensive or defensive support. You can customize a character’s skills and access powerful attacks. The game doesn’t use the stylus at all, but that’s better than shoehorning it in where it won’t fit anyway.

While The Third Phantom is no Final Fantasy Tactics, it is still a very solid package, and Bleach fans in particular will enjoy it despite its flaws. Other RPG gamers may find the conversations too long winded for them.