Saturday, June 11, 2011

Phantom Dust - A card battle game that has no cards!

I think games that deal with psychic powers are cool, I pretty much enjoy any title with the word "Psychic" in it. This game is no exception, and it actually did rather well critically and has become something of a cult favorite for the original Xbox.

Phantom Dust was released in the U.S in 2005 by Majesco in partnership with Microsoft Game Studios.  The setting is your typical post-apocalyptic wasteland where everyone is suffering from amnesia.  Nobody knows what happened, but they are forced to band together and live underground because of the dangerous dust that is everywhere in the surface world.  Certain humans, called Espers, are able to manipulate the dust and into psychic powers to combat the monsters that roam the surface.  Because they have these powers, it is the espers primary responsibility to explore the surface to find scavenge anything of use and hopefully find clues that might reveal what really happened to the world.  The main character is found by a group of espers in a chamber, and just like everyone else, he can't remember a damn thing, and so the game's story begins.  I actually find the setting to be very intriguing, everyone you meet can't even remember their own names so they choose new ones which either sound really badass or just hilariously goofy.  A thin guy goes by the name of "Chunky", and another goes by the name "Cuff Button" but they seem to have no idea what their names really mean.  It's funny yet a little bit sad as the memory loss seems to be a pretty big deal in this game.

The gameplay is surprisingly unique, there really wasn't a game like it back then.  As mentioned in the title, this plays out like a trading card game, but all the fights are in real time.  You run across dust orbs that have psychic powers  in them and you bind them to buttons on your controller.  The orbs you find are part of your arsenal (read: card deck) that you can customize before missions.  Each orb has a different psychic power like fire blasts or energy swords that can be used either many times or only once so you have to play smart with your powers and try not to miss as you may be dead before you get a chance to use that one power again!  This game actually has 2 vs 2 online multiplayer which can get pretty intense,  but you'll never get that opportunity to play it now as online servers are closed down now.  At least the campaign is still great!

Besides the unique setting, one of my favorite things are the destructible environments.  It really gives you the impression that you are a powerful bastard whenever you blast apart an entire chunk of a highway or other random acts of destruction, it's like you're really watching an episode of DBZ without the ridiculous pacing issues!  The music is comprised of very interesting remixes of classical music.  For instance, the Club Baroness bar features the habanera of Carmen remixed into a haunting jazz beat.  Aside from the classical references, most of the music stays out of the way as you're going to need to be focusing on formulating strategies on the fly and dodging any oncoming projectiles.

Yep, this is another game I would easily recommend.  They were trying out something completely new with this game and it actually worked into something wonderful!  I'm not entirely sure if it was a financial success because we would probably be seeing more of the same if it was, everybody was still high on Halo when this game came I guess.  I enjoyed my time with this game especially since I found it brand new on cleareance at a  Toys R us for $3.  A great deal that is easily worth 10 times that amount.  Check it.


  1. what the...
    i think i remember seeing commercials for this ages ago. pretty weird

  2. kick ass trailer! looks good.

  3. yeah this game has the right balance of gameplay, graphics and story imo. a winning combo

  4. Looks pretty sweet, I love post-apoc games, too bad I never owned an original Xbox :(


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