Leaked demo of Crimson Dragon for Xbox 360 shows a game worth waiting for

We recently discovered that Crimson Dragon: Side Story has become Windows Phone 8 compatible, but it’s been a while since we had a chance to talk about the upcoming Xbox 360 Crimson Dragon game. Over the weekend a playable demo leaked onto the Japanese Xbox 360 Marketplace before being quickly pulled down. Thankfully we now have YouTube footage of Crimson Dragon to dissect, plus DLC news for the upcoming Kinect game.

Mysterious delays

Crimson Dragon Demo Hestrine

Hestrine comes to life on Xbox 360

The story of Crimson Dragon’s release schedule is quite interesting. First announced as Project Draco back in 2010, the spiritual successor to Panzer Dragoon eventually became known as Crimson Dragon. Just a few days before its scheduled June 15, 2012 release date, Microsoft (the publisher) suddenly delayed the game without explanation.

The Windows Phone companion game Crimson Dragon: Side Story debuted on September 11 that year, but still no word of the primary console game’s fate. The demo that leaked over the weekend was originally shown at PAX East in April 2012, so it doesn’t exactly prove that the game has moved forward.

In the absence of word from Microsoft or developer Grounding, we can only speculate as to the seemingly completed Xbox Live Arcade game’s fate. The person who uploaded the demo footage to YouTube suggests that Microsoft might have chosen to hold onto Crimson Dragon until the Xbox 360 successor debuts alongside the Kinect 2.0.

He’s probably right. The game already looks beautiful, but the increased precision of Kinect 2.0 would likely result in much more accurate and enjoyable controls. Short of switching the game to a retail release (thus necessitating the addition of lots of new content), I can’t think of any other plausible explanation for the extended delay.

Connections to Side Story

We could yet endure a lengthy wait before Crimson Dragon finally comes out, but the demo footage provides lots of reason for Side Story players to get excited. The Windows Phone game might not have impressed from technical standpoints like texture resolution or polygon count, but it’s still a beautiful game thanks to the wonderful creature and world designs. Watching the XBLA Crimson Dragon in motion, we see all of that artistry come to life with far, far more details than ever before. It almost makes the WP game look like Kristen Stewart by comparison!

Now, there still won’t be any connectivity or shared progress between the two games, but the story, world, and even some enemies are very much the same. We can see the ocean, forest, and underground areas from the WP game make their return in stunning form. Several mobile enemies reappear on the big screen, including a pair of Hestrines – Side Story’s second boss. The menus and experience system also look remarkably similar to the game WP7 and WP8 owners already enjoy. One difference is that Crimson Dragon has not one but six different dragons to level up as the game progresses.

Downloadable content on the way

Post-mission screens: WP on left, XBLA on right

Along with the free demo, three pieces of Crimson Dragon PDLC Treasure Packs leaked during the same time period: the Accelerator Pack, Boss Pack and Rare Pack. None were actually purchasable. Our own Japanese tipster Sacra explains that the packs probably allow users to unlock skills for their dragons early rather than grinding for them in-game. Considering that Side Story allows/requires players to purchase jewels with MS Points in order to awaken skills, PDLC Treasure Packs in the console game shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

Dragon hunting

Let’s hope that Microsoft decides to share some of their plans for Crimson Dragon sooner rather than later. Side Story fans will surely be that much more eager to play the XBLA game after watching the tantalizing demo footage!

Source: XBLA Fans

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!