With the official closing of Darkside Games, one of the few reboots from original game ideas has gone away alongside it.Their last project prior to closing their doors, was a beloved cult classic by the name of Phantom Dust. For many people, the idea of losing a long lost game that didn’t really make it outside of a select few XBox players, wasn’t much of a problem. Well, for the select few who were wondering, I’m here to give you the rundown of why you should be a bit more upset that the beloved Darkside Games has closed their doors.
Phantom Dust was a hidden gem from the mid-cycle of the original XBox that had all the charm and vigor of a launch title, but lacked any of the simplicity or strong structure that helped so many other games survive the XBox’s continued lifecycle. It was officially reviewed with the tagline “Unlike anything else on XBox” Which still holds true even today.
The overall story certainly didn’t help Phantom Dust in the mainstream department, but there was plenty of charm in the game, helping it almost reach a cult classic status. With a unique character design, a vividly unique world, combined with an original combat system that focused on allowing the player to use their skills and abilities to grant a different style of play for each player, there was much to be sought after in Phantom Dust.
It was announced in 2014 that Phantom Dust would be relaunched for the XBox 1, allowing a whole new group from a younger auidence to see the wonder of Phantom Dust. With a reboot of the characters and the world as a whole, it was meant to showcase the unique card battle system using the amazing graphics of the Xbox One. Carrying on the same spirit and soul that made the entire series more of a cult classic amongst fans, while bringing forth a slicker style to the characters.
Unfortunately, the game seemed to be dead on arrival because shortly after it’s announcement, it went pretty silent on all fronts. There was no concrete gameplay footage, and ultimately no more hype from the fanbase. The whispered reboot was tossed in the wind, and now with the closing of the company that was working on it, it’s all but gone. Aside from a leaked gameplay footage, there isn’t anything left for us to even look out for. Which brings me over to the good stuff…
The thing that made Phantom Dust stand out at the time of its release, aside from Glam Rock leads, was the very well designed and rarely used inside nearly any major game for the XBox. Though it’s never stated, it certainly feels like this was meant to be Microsoft’s big answer to the numerous up and coming RPG’s that Playstation had been running rampant with. The ‘action rpg’ style of combat allowed the player to customize their character while moving around and using an entire arena to their advantage. The game supported online play which carried over the core combat very well.
Unfortunately, the ‘charm and vigor’ I spoke of earlier wasn’t meant to be as kind as you’d originally think. Phantom Dust may have come later in the XBox’s life than I’d originally stated… much later. As in near the end of it honestly. By the time Phantom Dust had reached the states, the XBox 360 was set to roll out, and it was, unfortunately, one of those pesky casualties of ‘next gen’ steamrolling a great game due to everyone clamoring for the newer model. That combined with the fact that there were many better looking, easier to handle, and more successful games with the same flow to them, meant that Phantom Dust wasn’t much of a contender to begin with.
So it would seem that the legacy of Phantom Dust is meant to die before it was even meant to begin. For the collectors out there, the original game can be purchased online still, but for many not willing to subject themselves to that there is still a chance of the game coming to the XBLA (X box Live Arcade) in the future. But if we’re lucky there’s a chance we get to see this masterpiece come to us in another way.