Review: Steven Universe: The Phantom Fable

Is it worth fusing this game on your phone?

Overview:

The Phantom Fable picks up with Steven Universe and his best friend Connie training with their weapons when Lion decides to spit up a mysterious book.  The kids decide to take the book to the crystal gems who admit that Rose Quartz was supposed to have destroyed all books of its kind.  At that moment the gems are enveloped by the pages and vanish.  Steven and Connie must utilize the help of other gems and the townspeople of Beach City to bring back their friends.

Our Take:

If there ever was a Cartoon Network show that deserved a fighting game more than Steven Universe, please show it to me.  It would be amazing to choose your favourite crystal gem fighter and use their unique styles and abilities.  Beyond that, you could use combo moves that would include fusions to create all new fighters.  Alas, this is not the game we got.  Just more of a pipe dream.  But, I won’t complain too much as a story based Steven Universe mobile game is still a great call.

The story itself, while not aligning completely with the progression of the show, still serves as a decent side adventure.  Adding in a little history of the gems is always welcome, but these ‘ancient texts’ don’t play out as much more than a tool to progress the game forward.  Most of the individual quests involve more of a character issue with each of the missing crystal gems.  And, while that is interesting, we don’t learn much more about Steven Universe lore than before playing the game.

The animation is on point.  The characters, environment, and style are all developed with detail and attention to the source material.  Even during gameplay the usable characters look and move in the way that you would hope and expect as a fan of the series.  It was also a pleasant surprise to have the addition of the characters actual voices.  They do not read out the complete script word for word, but add a couple of words here and there.  It is actually more than you would expect with proper emotions and emphasis given at appropriate times.

The gameplay works as it is intended.  However, that is probably the only nice thing I have to say about it.  Maneuvering the characters and their abilities was a frustrating endeavor.  The majority of gameplay requires using the touch screen to complete different shapes and directions to complete individual actions.  All well and good in concept, but in practice, these games become a headache.  Often you will need to repeat steps especially when there is a target involved.  Enemies have the upper hand while you try to change between attack moves of characters, moving, and picking up items.  It reminds me of when Nintendo came out with their touchscreen DS handheld consoles and tried to release games that utilized the new format.  Majority of them don’t work, and enjoyable games avoid the touchscreen as much as possible.  For a mobile game, meant to cause me to procrastinate and spend way too much time on the toilet, I found myself getting frustrated quickly and putting my phone down after five-minute intervals.

I should also mention that this game is surprisingly small.  There are nine levels in total with only four main quests.  Don’t get me wrong, I probably couldn’t have handled another level of trying to draw two lines at the same time with my thick thumbs.  But, for a downloadable mobile game, it is surprisingly small.  Usually, the goal of a mobile game is to have you sucked into addictive gameplay that never ends until you have to quit the game because you’ve been ignoring your dishes.  This game does none of that and is beatable in one day – if you have nimbler thumbs than I, of course.

It is unfortunate that this game gets everything right except for the gameplay.  I would score this much higher if the gameplay weren’t the most essential thing to get proper in a video game.  The set-up, story, and style are enough to get you excited to get going, and then you actually start playing.  To be fair, maybe I would have had more luck playing on a tablet or something with a larger screen.  But, wouldn’t that defeat the whole idea of a mobile game?  If you are the type of gamer that enjoys this type of gameplay, then this would be a winner.  Especially if you are a Steven Universe fan because this does play like a lost episode of the original series.  So, try it out with a tablet, or let’s start a petition to get my idea for a Crystal Gem/Mortal Kombat put together.

Steven Universe – The Phantom Fable is available for download on iOS and Android.

 

Jesse Bereta

Jesse (Green Onion) Bereta is a chef of words. Classically trained in the kitchen, Jesse changed careers in ‘015 to pursue his passion of writing (and being a full time pop culture nerd). Aside from his work as a freelance writer, Jesse also operates his own website, podcasts, and is a father of two budding sprouts. The Green Onion headquarters is located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

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