An indie auteur who's making waves is animator and self-taught programmer is Dean Dodrill, whose "Dust: An Elysian Tail" (Humble Hearts, for the Xbox 360, $15) is a loving tribute to some of Dodrill's favorite things, including Walt Disney, "Super Metroid" and "Ninja Gaiden."
Dust is a foxlike critter with a bad case of amnesia. With the help of a talking sword and a flying rodent named Fidget, he begins to remember his role in a brutal civil war - and, when he sees the damage done, tries to stop it.
Dust's odyssey takes him through a series of two-dimensional landscapes that evoke the great Disney movies; the deer and bunnies frolicking in one forest, for example, are reminders of "Bambi." There are thousands of monsters to slay, but a lively combat system that lets you chain together hundreds of attacks prevents the fighting from ever getting dull.
There's also a sprawling world map to explore, plenty of hidden treasure and some basic role-playing elements. For an indie game, "Dust" tries to squeeze in a lot - and, fortunately, most of it works. Three stars.