Sadly, the US release of anime-style versus fighting game Phantom Breaker has been put on indefinite hold due to publisher 7sixty's financial troubles. However, the game's actual developer 5pb remains in good shape. They're hard at work preparing a spin-off called Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds for Xbox Live Arcade. Even if you were unfamiliar with the series before now, this lovely new batch of screens should peak your interest.
Battle Grounds is a side-scrolling beat-em-up starring four adorable female fighters: Itsuki the maid, Mikoto the swordfighter, Waka the priestess, and Yuzuha the ninja. Each one has been rendered in a cutesy pixel art style highly reminiscent of Paul Robertson's work on Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Together they will take on an army of monsters and cyborgs via the game's 4-player co-op mode.
Though it might look a lot like Scott Pilgrim, Battle Grounds seems to draw a lot of gameplay inspiration from Guardian Heroes. Instead of freely moving up or down as with most brawlers, players and enemies are confined to two horizontal planes. The protagonists level up and get stronger as they fight, providing that addictive mix of RPG elements that we all crave. Another similarity: the game's 4-player competitive Battle Ground mode resembles Guardian Heroes' frantic Versus mode.
Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds is due out sometime in 2013 with both offline and online co-op. While the game's official site doesn't mention a price, TrueAchievements reports it will cost 800 MS Points ($10).