Crimson Dragon Side Story swoops back to Windows Phone 8

It looks like there might not be a new Xbox Windows Phone release this week, as we haven’t heard news of one from Microsoft. But they like to surprise us every now and then, so time will tell. In the meantime, Windows Phone 8 users can play a new(ish) game, as in a WP7 title that was previously incompatible with the new OS. Even better, the newly returned title is one of the best from the incompatible list.

Crimson Dragon Side Story from Grounding and Microsoft has been patched for Windows Phone 8. The version 1.2 patch greatly enhances the game’s speed, but we've also heard it closes a well-liked loophole.

Powered up for Windows Phone 8

Crimson Dragon Side Story first boss

As our review explains, Crimson Dragon Side Story has always been a standout title. It’s even exclusive to Windows Phone, though it could always pop up on iOS down the line like Wordament.  The game did launch with a couple of heinous bugs affecting users’ save data and the GPS function, but the previous version 1.1 update fixed those.

That said, one major problem still lingered: that of slowness. The loading times between menus and levels weren’t exactly lightning quick. Worse, the game autosaved constantly and for no discernible reason. You could look at your skills without changing them, and you’d still have to endure a pointless 5-10 second autosave. Considering all the grinding required to get the Achievements (such as fighting the last boss 200 times), lots of loading and autosaves just made a lengthy process seem absolutely eternal.

All that changes now that Side Story runs on WP8. The load times are more than twice as fast on the Lumia 920 than they were on the first-gen Samsung Focus. And the lengthy autosaves are gone! I hopped back and forth between various menus and even completed a level without ever suffering the interminable “Saving…” message we previously endured. I can’t overstate how much more pleasant this makes the process of repeating levels to gain EXP and unlock new skills.

Always a catch

Crimson Dragon Side Story final boss

Now for the bad news: On WP8, it might not be possible to unlock all of the game’s skills (and thus the associated Achievements) without spending Microsoft Points. See, thousands of in-game jewels are required to awaken those skills – to say nothing of some true feats of skill just to get the chance to awaken the rarer ones. The game awards jewels for various tasks like beating a level for the first time and reaching certain leaderboard and GPS distance traveled milestones. But you don’t get jewels for repeating levels or bosses – a seemingly underhanded way to milk extra money from gamers.

Prior to the version 1.2 WP8 compatibility update, the game actually did reward players with jewels each time they defeated the final boss (pictured above), even though technically it wasn’t supposed to. Thus you could grind for jewels and work towards the 200 boss kills Achievement simultaneously, all without spending extra money. Alas, one of our readers has informed us that the final boss no longer pays out jewels during subsequent battles. I haven’t reached the point where I can personally test this yet, so we’re looking to you guys for confirmation and/or outraged reactions.

Even if the jewel grinding trick is gone for good, I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over it. Unlocking and awakening all of the game’s skills is a feat beyond many gamers (including me) anyway. According to TrueAchievements, only 22 out of more than 1500 players have pulled it off. If you accept that you probably weren’t getting all the skills in the first place, it almost becomes a non-issue.

Crimson Dragon Side Story costs 99 cents here on the Windows Phone Store.

Thanks to Sacra and everyone else who tipped us!

QR: Crimson Dragon Side Story

Paul Acevedo

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!