Phantom Dust

I had the urge to play this game the other day. I remember really liking the art style and themes. I found it and popped it into the 360 (surprisingly, it’s compatible), but the sound clipped badly. It was really annoying, so I did the next best thing: I dragged out my big ‘ol Xbox that I haven’t touched since about ’07 or ’08, and plugged it up. The disc tray malfunctions slightly (after pushing the button to open it, I have to push on where it says “XBOX” to get it to actually open), but other than that it runs beautifully (looks great, too; I always take really good care of my equipment). I had fun looking through my old saves and laughing at the music I put on there back in, like, ’06. As far as the game, not only was the sound perfect, but the video was actually in 16:9, unlike on the 360, which could only show it in 4:3 (oh, emulation woes). The only bad thing was that it still looked better on the 360, due to the fact that I have component cables there, rather than just the regular RCAs. I can’t deal with that crap sound, though, so I’m going the old-fashioned route.

Phantom Dust won’t be the next game I’m doing for this blog, as I can’t take screens, etc., but I’ll talk a bit about it. I picked it up at GameStop a couple of years after it came out, and I don’t regret it at all. First, a history lesson:

Microsoft Game Studios released Phantom Dust in 2004 (2005 in North America by Majesco) exclusively for Xbox. It is, as Wikipedia describes it, a “pseudo-card-based action/strategy game in which the player collects skills (over 300 total) and takes missions to attempt to discover why Earth is in the condition it is.” Pretty much. The missions are essentially where you get thrown into an arena-style map and duke it out with a couple of demons.

It honestly doesn’t sound that interesting on the surface, but the good stuff comes in the details. For an Xbox game, the graphics are very good, and the maps are highly detailed with destructible environments. Even the ground is destructible, as when you jump from a high point and land, you make a crater. Skills can destroy bridges and make things fall on top of characters, taking away health. The music is excellent and unexpectedly unique. To go with the post-apocalyptic/ “lost world” theme, there are hints of classical pieces among techno and electronic music.

I find it funny that Majesco published the game for North America. Majesco always seems to get the short end of the stick, whether it’s crap games that don’t sell no matter how hard they try (Advent Rising with Orson Scott Card, or BloodRayne with… well, Rayne), or good games that don’t sell, like Phantom Dust.

That’s about all there is to say about the game. Like I said, really interesting art direction, and fun gameplay. The animations are outstanding, as well. The game should have gotten an award for them. Speaking of awards, it would be a crime if this game didn’t get “Best Game Nobody’s Ever Heard Of” in 2005. It most definitely deserves the attention.

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~ by The Retro Gamer on September 21, 2011.

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