For those who came in late… The Phantom isn’t a character I’ve followed much over the years. But if you’re anything more than a casual comic book fan, you probably recognize his purple-clad visage. I remember the 1996 movie starring Billy Zane (in fact it’s playing in the background as I write this), and I have fond memories of having a full cast book-on-tape of a Defenders of the Earth comic. Honestly, that’s about all the first-hand memories I have of him. Academically, I appreciate the incredible impact of Lee Falk’s creation. He was the first hero of his kind, and considered a pivotal character in the transition from pulp heroes, like The Shadow and The Green Hornet, to the costumed crusaders we know today, like Superman and Captain America. His North American publishing history includes both Marvel and DC Comics, as well as a host of smaller companies. In Australia, however, he’s been published consistently by Frew Publications for over 70 years. That brings us up to date, and the Kickstarter campaign for The Phantom: Treasures of Drakon by Frew Games.
The basic gameplay is to move around the Red Dragon pirate stronghold, using a mixture of maneuvers and special actions to collect, combat, and connive, as many victory points as you can.
There are three different ways to play the game. The Cooperative and Player vs Player modes loosely follow the Phantom and Princess Sin storyline, and the Solo mode is based around Kid Phantom and Commander Corsair, making them very different experiences. As you advance through either version of the game, your progress will literally be tracked through the panels of an ever-changing Phantom comic strip. The six characters all have certain standard abilities, as well as unique special abilities that they can use, along with customized dice that reinforces each character’s own strengths and weaknesses. All told it looks like a solid game, with some unique mechanics.
There aren’t many pledge levels, but there are some interesting ones. The exchange rate with the Australian Dollar, combined with a flat worldwide shipping rate, makes it a comparatively good deal.
$99 (AUD) gets you a single copy of the game, plus stretch goals, and a discounted $95 to add on additional copies. $129 adds on a copy of Frew’s new 200+ page Red Dragon Saga Trade Paperback collection. The most interesting pledges add on various pieces of original art and prototype components. Most of these are already sold out, but there is still some original artwork available at the $349 level.
Frew Games is a subsidiary of Frew Publications which, as I mentioned, has a lengthy history with The Phantom, as well as the creative team to make this game a reality without too many worries. Maybe if this goes well they’ll branch out into some other King Features characters. I’d buy into a good Defenders of the Earth game.