The Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network are treasure troves of interesting, short little games that often get overlooked by the average consumer. Oftentimes there are even really interesting, fantastically crafted RPGs hidden deep within the system, and Dust: An Elysian Tail is one such title. Similar in many regards to VanillaWare's beautiful Wii action-RPG Muramasa: The Demon Blade, Dust features gorgeous hand-drawn artwork, incredible animations, and a fast-paced, frantic combat system. Players control Dust, an amnesiac with a questionable and potentially horrific past who sets out with a magical talking sword and a flying cat-thing to try to figure out whom he is.
The game makes use of a lot of anthropomorphic animals, and its story is Disney-esque in many ways. Sadly, despite the game's high production qualities and terrific, addictive gameplay, it didn't receive a lot of attention and was completely ignored by many RPGamers. Fans of action RPGs and the work of VanillaWare should consider taking a look at Dust: An Elysian Tail, RPGamer's most overlooked RPG of 2012.
The Ys series is often relatively overlooked thanks to a long stretch where it was largely absent from the West. Thanks to XSEED games that is slowly starting to change, and also thanks to XSEED Ys Origin, a slightly older PC entry in the series, was finally able to see an English release on Steam. Though the series usually includes a fresh story involving protagonist Adol in each entry, Ys Origin instead serves as a prequel to the first two games and fleshes out some of the series mythology. With no Adol, the game instead provides the choice of two main characters at the start. One provides the classic Adol-styled melee experience, while the other focuses on ranged attacks. Level design and boss fights provide the typical levels of excellence the Ys series is known for despite some of the bosses and areas being remixes from the first two Ys games. Itís another brilliant entry in a brilliant series that doesnít get the attention it deserves.
Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland is the latest entry in Gustís classic Atelier series, and the final entry in the trilogy of games about the land of Arland. Always an overlooked series, Meruru continues to provide the series charm and alchemy-focused fun. Though some didnít enjoy it as much as the previous entry, Totori, it still was well received by fans. It's a shame the game was overlooked by many, as the series continues to be excellent and provides a nice change of pace from the usual epic RPG. Gust continues to improve its ability with the PS3 as well, as Meruru contains some of the nicest cartoon-styled graphics youíll see on the system. Hopefully someday more people will recognize the series for its fantastic gameplay, story, and music.
by Adriaan den Ouden, Michael Apps