Last week, Microsoft suddenly announced that we’d be getting Crimson Dragon Side Story on Windows Phone. We were pumped to see a Crimson Dragon/Panzer Dragoon game coming to the platform (see this article to learn more), but would it live up to the series’ high quality bar? Fast forward to now: the game is here, it’s really good, and it only costs a dollar!
Two genres combine
Crimson Dragon Side Story is a combination of side-scrolling shoot-em-up and rail shooter. Like a shmup, the player’s dragon flies from left to right, dodging enemy fire and shooting right back at those hordes of monsters. Uniquely though, you only control the vertical movement of the creature, sliding your thumb up and down along the left side of the screen.
Combining with the limited movement system (which hearkens back to past Panzer Dragoon games in which players can only move along two axes instead of three) is a deep weapon and skill system. At the start of a level, players select from three main types of attacks. One of these is the traditional lock-on system, which lets you tap and drag around the screen to lock onto multiple enemies. It’s a great attack method that you don’t see in normal shmups.
On top of the main weapon, you can unlock and bring two sub-skills into battle, which cost energy to use and can be activated at will. The number of choices - and potential unlockables - lend the game ample replay value.
The titular Side Story tasks the player with hunting down a mysterious white beast who is spreading a disease across the planet while it searches for some unknown article. Story missions are preceded by beautiful hand-drawn cut scenes and capped with giant boss battles. Each mission can be selected and replayed individually, making the game work well for mobile play. 30 side missions are available as well. Clearing missions by using specific weapons and other methods unlocks new skills to purchase.
Skill and gems systems
The currency for buying skills, gems, can be found in-game by clearing levels and random drops. More uniquely, you can even get gems by playing the game from different locations thanks to the phone’s GPS. They can also be purchased with Microsoft Points, though my phone couldn’t connect to the store at the time of this writing. Both the GPS and marketplace functions are found in the game’s Trading Post. Sadly Side Story doesn’t feature connectivity with the Xbox 360 version.
A dragon of a bargain
Not only is Crimson Dragon Side Story a large and deep game for fans of shooters, but it only costs a dollar. That’s quite a deal! Even better, it comes with multiple Avatar Awards. Clear the first story mission and you’ll unlock a red and white t-shirt for your avatar to wear. Beat the second level for a dragon head! To equip these Awards, head to the Games hub, select your Avatar, ‘change my style,’ ‘awards,’ and then select it.
Crimson Dragon Side Story is now available for 99 cents, and there is a free trial. Hop on your dragon and fly over here to get it from the Marketplace.
Thanks to Sacra for the tip!