Phantom Dust for Xbox One Revealed at E3

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Published by Solo Wing .

The E3 game Yukio Futatsugi is involved with turned out to be a Phantom Dust title. View the announcement and trailer on GameSpot.

It’s not clear if this is a new Phantom Dust game, or a remake/remaster of the original for Xbox One. Either would be welcome, especially considering that there was never a PAL version of Phantom Dust, so many of us didn’t have the opportunity to play it. What’s exciting for Panzer Dragoon fans is that there’s still an interest among game publishers in bringing back Futatsugi’s older works. It leaves hope that we could one day see a continuation of the Panzer Dragoon franchise.

Yukio Futatsugi "Involved With" E3 Game

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Published by Solo Wing .

Yukio Futatsugi, creator of Panzer Dragoon and Crimson Dragon, revealed on Twitter that a game will be announced at E3 that he is involved with. Gematsu provides the following translation:

“Lots of people in my timeline are getting ready to head to Los Angeles for E3,” Futatsugi said. “I can’t go this year for various reasons including an upcoming launch of a smartphone title, as well as one I’ve been running that has been getting great reviews.”

He added, “But a title I’m involved with will be announced. Looking forward to it.”

I doubt this will be a new Panzer Dragoon or Crimson Dragoon game. The Gemastu article suggests a Phantom Dust title as a possibility.

Mobile Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed Now Free

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Published by Solo Wing .

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, the Sega racing game which features a Panzer Dragoon themed track (Dragon Canyon), is now free for Android and iOS devices. Previously the game cost US$4.99.

Here’s a YouTube video of Dragon Canyon being played on the iPhone 5S.

You can download Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed from the App Store or Google Play. Note that while the game is now “free to play”, some content must still be paid for via in-app purchases. It also looks like you’ll need a relatively new device to play the game; the iOS version requires iOS7 and for Android you’ll need version 4.0 or above.

My thanks goes to SEGAbits for the heads up about this price change.

Saori Kobayashi Performs Crimson Dragon Music Live

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Published by Solo Wing .

As mentioned in the last update, Saori Kobayashi also performed music from the Crimson Dragon series at BitSummit MMXIV. This time, she plays the main theme from Crimson Dragon (with vocals), as well as “Far Away Wings” from Crimson Dragon: Side Story.

Far Away Wings (also known as Memoir) is the music which plays during the menu screens of Crimson Dragon: Side Story, however for this live performance it has been expanded with Japanese vocals. Awesome. As with the Anu Orta Veniya performance, the vocals for both tracks are sung by Yumiko Takahashi.

These live performances appear to be part of a premotion of a new album called In Flux, featuring a track by Kobayashi called “Shattered Moon”. You can listen to and purchase the album on their Bandcamp store.

Saori Kobayashi Performs Anu Orta Veniya Live

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Published by Solo Wing .

Saori Kobayashi has performed Anu Orta Veniya from Panzer Dragoon Orta to a live auidence at BitSummit MMXIV in Kyoto. The vocals are sung by Yumiko Takahashi.

If you listen carefully, you’ll hear Kobayashi play part of “A Premonition of War”, the main theme of Panzer Dragoon Saga, at the beginning of the song.

Kobayashi also did a live performance featuring Crimson Dragon music which I will post soon.

Crimson Dragon Discounted on Xbox Live

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Published by Draikin .

Major Nelson reports that, among other games, Crimson Dragon is getting a 20-25% discount (depending on the territory) starting from now through February 3rd 2014. The game recently received a free update enabling multiplayer. Unfortunately, Microsoft has yet to release the Xbox One in several countries including my own, so a lot of people out there have still not been able to play the game.

Crimson Dragon Multiplayer and New Difficulty Level

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A new (free) content update has been released for Crimson Dragon. From PlayXBLA:

Riders of Icarus Division, prepare yourselves for an all-new challenge. No, these aren’t in-game challenges, but rather a new way for you to enjoy Crimson Dragon. Today, January 27th, in the wee hours of the morning, there was a Content Update to Crimson Dragon (4GB) which pushed out the anticipated Multiplayer mode. Now you’re able to soar the skies with a friend over Xbox Live!

This Content Update is free to you, and the next time you turn on Crimson Dragon, you’ll be prompted to start the update. In addition to bringing in Multiplayer, the designers behind the game have introduced a new difficulty level, Insane, to test your skills. Hop in and experience Crimson Dragon like you never have before, with your Xbox Live friends.

A Renewed Focus on Panzer and the Future of the Forums

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Published by Solo Wing .

Happy New Year, everyone. There’s no new Panzer Dragoon/Crimson Dragon content in this post (although if you’re looking for new dragon-related material to read, check out this amusing article I shared earlier on the social networks). Rather, this post is a discussion of a couple of aspects of the site going forward.

Most of the updates to The Will of the Ancients last year were focused on Crimson Dragon. We’ll keep posting updates about the Crimson Dragon franchise as they come in (here’s hoping that a higher budget RPG sequel is revealed within the next few years). When it comes to new content for the coming year, I plan to focus more on the Panzer Dragoon series as that is where my interest primarily lies. While coverage of the Panzer Dragoon series is already relatively high compared to Crimson Dragon, there are plenty of new articles which could be written about Panzer Dragoon. I’ll say no more about these plans for now as I find it better to get on with writing rather than writing about writing (a classic procrastination technique). However, if the community wishes to contribute new Crimson Dragon content, for example fan art, theories, or encyclopaedia entries, these contributions would still be most welcome.

This brings me to my second point: the future of the forums. It is no secret that the forums on this website are powered by very old phpBB2 software, software that I’d like to replace. The question is: replace with what? It’s also no secret that the forums have been decreasing in activity. Even with the advent of Crimson Dragon, the amount of discussion has not significantly risen. I’m not convinced that the replacing the forum software with something more modern will increase activity. The rise of social networks, particularly Facebook, has diverted much of the Internet’s discussion away from forums. However, I still believe there is value in keeping some kind of separate discussion area around on The Will of the Ancients, even if activity is low. As Craymen might say, no social network should wield such power.

There are at least a couple of options for a modern replacement of the current phpBB2 forums. One option is Discourse, a progressive discussion platform from the creator of the popular Q&A website, Stack Overflow. It is excepted that Discourse will reach version 1.0 in the next few months, which might be an ideal time to make the switch. Alternatively, the current Dragoon profile system, which currently just shows information about contributions to this website, could be expanded to allow people to log in to custom forums that could be tightly integrated with other parts of The Will of the Ancients. Because it will be members of the Panzer Dragoon community who will use whatever forum system is chosen, I’d like to gather feedback from the community about the kind of discussion forums you would like to use. To do this, I have started an open discussion called The Future of the Forums.

Wingman Cost Reduced in Crimson Dragon

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Published by Solo Wing .

PlayXBLA have announced that the cost of hiring Wingman dragons in Crimson Dragon has been reduced. From the article:

We’re constantly looking at player trends and feedback, seeking ways to optimally tune Crimson Dragon for you, the players. Based on our most recent evaluations, we’ve decided to lower the cost of hiring a Wingman. The cost of a Wingman has been reduced by as much as 67%. What this means for you is that the best Wingmen are available at a cheaper cost, and using them is a much more rewarding feature based on their cost. Pro tip: make sure to not only bring a powerful Wingman in to the battle with you, but one who also benefits you most based on the enemies’ elemental attribute.

GamerFuzion's Video Playthrough of Crimson Dragon

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Published by Solo Wing .

GamerFuzion has posted a twenty-six part video playthrough of Crimson Dragon on YouTube. Here’s the first part; the related parts should be easy enough to find, although you may need explicitly type “Crimson Dragon Walkthrough Part X” into YouTube’s search field to get the next video.

If you can’t afford an expensive Xbox One right now, this video playthrough is the next best thing.

Crimson Dragon's Soundtrack Also on Spotify and Others

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You can listen to the complete soundtrack to Crimson Dragon on Spotify for free. Thanks to Kayne Nemesis for the heads up.

You can also stream the soundtrack on Xbox Music. You can use your Xbox Live account to sign into Xbox Music, saving you the hassle of signing up for a Spotify account if you don’t already have one.

MP3s of the soundtrack are also available for purchase on Amazon.

Panzer Dragoon Revival Reaches 1000 Signatures!

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Published by Draikin .

Hey everyone,

It took us a while, but our Panzer Dragoon Revival petition has reached 1000 signatures! Certainly a worthy effort for a series that hasn’t seen a new release in the past ten years. I’ll be looking into the best way of sending the signatures to Sega and Grounding Inc. It’ll probably be in the form of a physical book, as I think that’s the best way to present it. However, perhaps there are other things we could add or do to make it more meaningful. For that matter your ideas are always welcome! I see this as much as a “thank you” note to the developers as it is a request to see HD remakes. Your heartfelt comments in the petition have shown just how memorable the games have been for a lot of gamers out there.

In light of this, the reception of Crimson Dragon is certainly unfortunate. Yet that doesn’t take away from the quality of the Panzer Dragoon games, and perhaps makes an HD remake all the more meaningful. Do sign the petition if you haven’t done so yet! Just because we’re at 1000 signatures shouldn’t mean we need to stop adding new ones, quite on the contrary even. I only ask you do not submit duplicate signatures. I understand people want to help but duplicate signatures don’t add anything of value. With that said, thanks for the support and stay tuned for more details on how we’re going to send the signatures out!

GameInformer's Review of Crimson Dragon

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Published by Solo Wing .

Better late than never, here’s a link to GameInformer’s review of Crimson Dragon, posted on the 18th of November. Ben Reeves from GameInformer gave the game 6.0 out of 10. From the review:

I loved the original Panzer Dragoon games, so just to make sure I wasn’t misremembering the quality of the series I went back and sampled the library. I had more fun playing the first levels of Sega’s old shooters than I did with my entire time with Crimson Dragon. Hardcore fans of classic on-rails shooters like Star Fox or Space Harrier might be able to play through this while wearing rose-tinted glasses, but it doesn’t hold a candle to its precursors that came out decades ago.

Although I have not finished the game myself yet (no thanks to Microsoft making it exceedingly difficult to play the game offline), this statement really does ring true for a fan of the Saturn Panzer Dragoon games. Whatever qualities Crimson Dragon has, it unfortunately does not contain a core gameplay experience comparable to the quality of Panzer Dragoon and Panzer Dragoon Zwei.

Crimson Dragon's Soundtrack is Now Available on iTunes

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Published by Solo Wing .

The official soundtrack for Crimson Dragon is now available on iTunes:

It appears that the soundtrack is not available in all regions yet. In particular regions that do not yet have the Xbox One may not yet have the soundtrack, although I have not checked every version of the iTunes store.

There’s also an article which explains Jeremy Garren’s involvement with the soundtrack:

Working on the Crimson Dragon score was a great opportunity to add my creative voice to many of Kobayashi-san’s wonderful melodies and to ultimately orchestrate and unify all of the the fine live performances recorded for the project, says Mr. Garren.

Although I have not listened to the full soundtrack yet, the tracks I’ve listened to so far have significantly less of Saori Kobayashi’s distinct Panzer Dragoon style in them (which was prominent in Crimson Dragon: Side Story). While the soundtrack is beautiful, this fact is deeply saddening to a Panzer Dragoon fan.

Kobayashi’s version of soundtrack was updated in collaboration Pyramind Studios and Microsoft Studios, with Jillian Aversa performing the vocals for the soundtrack’s main theme, along with The New York Film Chorale contributing to a number of tracks, led by Dwayne Condon. Condon explains his contribution:

My charge, musically, was to fuse together a sense of Draco, the new game world, with the history of the Panzer Dragoon series and the work already done by the original composer, continues Mr. Garren, in particular, I tried to capture the huge scale, danger, and outright crisis posed by those massive beasts.

The soundtrack, titled simply “Crimson Dragon”, contains 15 tracks and is a total of 58 minutes and 26 seconds long.

Crimson Dragon Has Finally Been Released

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After a long delay, you can finally purchase a digital download of Crimson Dragon from the Xbox Store (in countries where the Xbox One has been released). If you’ve just purchased an Xbox One you’ll need to first download a 500+ MB system update, and then the game itself is another 6.88 GB.

There are several gem packs available for purchase; these are optional. Please note, the following prices are in New Zealand dollars and will vary depending on your region.

Veteran Jewel Pack
Contains 20 Jewels
$7.45
Seeker Jewel Pack
Contains 6 Jewels
$2.79
Dragon Hunter Jewel Pack
Contains 45 Jewels
$14.95

The game itself is NZ$25, and it has previously been confirmed that it will be US$20 if you live in the United States.

At last Crimson Dragon has arrived.

Xbox One Launches, Futatsugi on Crimson Dragon Feedback

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Published by Solo Wing .

The Xbox One is now out in New Zealand, other countries to follow as soon as the timezones catch up and it becomes November 22nd. Frustratingly due to an issue with my wireless connection, I have not been able to download Crimson Dragon yet, but it should now be available as a digital download for Xbox One. We’ll follow up with another post as soon as we’ve confirmed this, but I see no reason why it would be delayed yet again.

Also, Yukio Futatsugi has commented on the reviewer feedback to Crimson Dragon:

“Crimson Dragon” is designed to be challenging. This has always been my vision for the game. I want you to feel like you’ve accomplished something each time you master a mission. To be proud of each dragon you’ve worked so hard to evolve to its ultimate form. My challenge as the game director is to find the sweet spot of adhering to my vision for the game while keeping the game from becoming too frustrating.

Grounding have made some last minute adjustments to the balance of the game:

  • We have increased the experience points your dragons will get from each battle, including the experience points you get when you fail a mission.
  • Finding your favorite combination of items is an important part of “Crimson Dragon,” so we’ve reduced the cost of items and expanded the availability of jewels (in-game credits) throughout the game.
  • We’ve adjusted the different game styles, “Casual” and “Classic”, to better match their intended level of difficulty.

He finishes off the post with the following:

I’m excited to have the opportunity to make these changes before the game releases on Xbox One this week. Thank you all for the feedback. You are truly helping me make “Crimson Dragon” the game that I hoped it would be.

It’s great that Futatsugi has listened to feedback, even if these changes don’t change the game too radically. My advice is just to enjoy Crimson Dragon for what it is. Put aside the expectations, the comparisons to Panzer Dragoon, and enjoy that fruits of Grounding’s hard work.

Gamespot's Video Review of Crimson Dragon

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Peter Brown from Gamespot has posted a video review of Crimson Dragon along with an accompanying written review. Peter gave the game 5 out of 10, concluding with the following:

It doesn’t take long to realize that for all its efforts to be something more, Crimson Dragon misses the mark. It’s occasionally sloppy, usually frustrating, and ultimately disappointing.

There’s also a pre launch video of one of Gamespot’s editors playing the game and discussing it with his peers. Basically all of the footage has already been shown in the PlayXBLA live streams though.

Despite the mixed reviews, I will still be purchasing Crimson Dragon on Friday. Buying a whole console for just one game is a significant financial decision; no doubt Panzer Dragoon fans will want to proceed with caution here. If there is demand for it, I will write my own review of Crimson Dragon to add my impressions to the growing collection online. Leave a message on the forums or on one of our social networking pages if you’re interested.

First Crimson Dragon Reviews

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Published by Draikin .

With the Xbox One release only a few days away, the first reviews of the launch games are being released. Among those are of course reviews for Crimson Dragon, and so far they’ve been… mixed.

Polygon gave the game a 4/10, and while they applauded the great soundtrack, they weren’t so positive about the rest of the game:

Crimson Dragon is a misguided, frustrating, confused game that I didn’t enjoy whatsoever and would recommend to only the hardest of die-hard Panzer Dragoon fans.

I actually was able to complete the next-to-last level without firing a single shot by expending a couple of gems. Crimson Dragon is a paid game with a lot of free-to-play sensibilities and it does not straddle the line gracefully.

IGN gave the game a 5.9 (on a side note, do they really need those decimals?)

I like the challenge of a difficult fight, but when it’s a clock that beats me instead of the enemy, it takes some of the fun out of battle.

Crimson Dragon works well enough as a straight arcade shooter, and there’s plenty of challenge in it. There’s some nostalgic value, too, but it’s weak graphics and frustrating free-flight boss fights make it tough to enjoy the stroll down memory lane.

Gamesbeat’s review is perhaps the most damning in a way, as it expresses the disappointment from someone familiar with the Panzer Dragoon games:

Instead of resembling Orta or the original 1990s Panzer Dragoon titles, Crimson Dragon is a neutered, rushed shell of a game devoid of any character, identity, or personality.

Most of the plot is only moved forward through still frames and disembodied voices barking orders at you, with most characters firing off tired one-liners about you being a rookie and the world’s only hope. It’s almost offensive how impersonal the game gets, offhandedly shipping you out on missions to grind resources for your next combat upgrade, but giving you no motivation or reason to even care.

Fortunately, other reviews have more positive things to say. GamesRader gave the game a 3.5/5:

The spiritual successor to Panzer Dragoon offers a compelling on-rails experience, even if it feels a bit lacking in some areas. With multiple dragons to own and level up, as well as and addictive scoring system complete with leaderboards, there are a few good reasons to plop down $20.

Finally, the most positive review so far is the one from Destructoid, who gave the game an 8/10:

Crimson Dragon was a pleasant surprise. As a massive fan of the Panzer series, I was worried that this wouldn’t quite honor it, but there’s plenty here for gamers who have been longing for an entry since 2003’s Orta. There are some mechanical problems, but any old-school rail shooter fan will be able to handle them.

Hopefully this won’t mean bad news for the future of the franchise. Let’s not forget that the game only costs $20, which is something that most reviews don’t quite take into account.

Seventh Twitch.tv Crimson Dragon Live Stream Recording

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The latest Crimson Dragon Twitch.tv stream is available for download.

The video starts with Coral Lake at dusk, the water glowing blood red in the evening sky. After the mission is complete we see the evolution of a Silvertail dragon in action, changing from a Silvertail Spark to a Silvertail Proton. With regard to how different each player’s dragon will look, you cannot customise exactly how your dragon will look, however you will be able to change the dragon’s colour which corresponds to the weapons it uses (fire, light, wind, etc).

We also see the underground cavern level, and then back to Coral Lake for another mission with a partner dragon. You can strategically command your partner dragon to fly to different positions around your dragon. For example, if your partner is positioned to your rear, it will watch and defend you from behind.

We’re also introduced to a new dragon, the Darkshoulder Breeze. It’s a huge, bulky dragon that moves slowly, but presumably takes less damage. We see this dragon fly through Crimson Dragon’s forest area briefly before the video ends.

The Silvertail – Crimson Dragon’s Shimmering Beast

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Published by Solo Wing .

As Crimson Dragon’s release draws near, PlayXBLA continues to post updates about the game’s world. Here’s the latest info on the Silvertail dragon:

Just one look at the Silvertail’s glittering hide reveals the origins of this dragon’s name. While naturally at home in the briny coral lakes that dot Draco’s landscape, the Silvertail’s agility makes it more than capable of handling whatever the native creatures of Draco can throw at it.

Horned protrusions in mature Silvertail dragons are normally used to drill deep into the coral hives of Draco’s lakes in search of prey, but serve just as well as weaponry in battle.

The article also contains three screenshots:

Silvertail 01 Silvertail 02 Silvertail 03

Exploring the Depths of Draco - Coral Lakes

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Published by Solo Wing .

PlayXBLA has posted some new information and screenshots about the Coral Lake region of Planet Draco. Here’s a section from the article:

The alkaline waters of Draco’s Coral Lake region are home to a variety of species. Most commonly found among the brittle coral structures jutting from the water are the Vespin, a pest which normally presents very little danger to the colonists … except when they swarm. Lately, however, the Vespin have undergone a change, transforming into enraged creatures which attack at the slightest provocation.

And here are the screenshots:

Coral Lake East 01 Coral Lake East 02 Coral Lake East 03 Coral Lake East 04

Coral Lake is certainly a stunning area. No doubt it will be remembered as one of the definitive pieces of scenery representing the Crimson Dragon world.

Sixth Twitch.tv Crimson Dragon Live Stream Recording

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The latest stream of Crimson Dragon is available for viewing on Twitch.tv. We’re shown more of the lake area, as well as some missions that take place in the forest. Towards the end we witness the two Seeker dragons taking on a whole group of Orkinuss creatures which viewers may recognise as the third boss from Crimson Dragon: Side Story.

What’s interesting about Crimson Dragon is how story telling takes place within the individual missions. Since Crimson Dragon features multiple missions per game area, this potentially adds up to quite a lengthy story for a rail shooter; I just hope that it doesn’t cause the story telling to drag. We shall see later this month when the final game arrives.

The Bloodskin, Versatility For New Recruits

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Published by Solo Wing .

PlayXBLA has posted three new screenshots about the Bloodskin dragon type from Crimson Dragon, along with some information. Here’s a section from the article:

The ultimate generalist, Bloodskin dragons can be found throughout the wilds of Draco. No other variety of dragon is spread so widely across the unforgiving regions of the planet. Their adaptability has allowed the Bloodskins to thrive in even the most inhospitable environments found on Draco, from the magma lakes near the planet’s core, to the snowy heights of Draco’s tallest mountain peaks.

I’ve uploaded the screenshots to our archive:

Seekers United Seeker Lieutenant Slayer on the Lake

Fifth Twitch.tv Crimson Dragon Live Stream Recording

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Published by Draikin .

Another recording of the Crimson Dragon live stream is available on Twitch.tv. This time they featured a new build of the game, and graphically there seems to be a few improvements (the lighting in particular) to give the game a softer look.

I’ve managed to get a few questions answered this time around, although the recording doesn’t include the first five minutes of the demo. I first asked whether or not Crimson Dragon: Side Story was a prequel to Crimson Dragon. Chris’s answer didn’t quite answer when Side Story actually happened chronologically compared to the Xbox One game, and only mentioned that Side Story complemented the console version.

My second question (the first one in the recording on Twitch TV) was about the appearance of a White Reaver in what is apparently the very first boss fight of the game. The White Reaver was seemingly eaten by the White Phantom, although the dialogue with Sana afterwards seems to suggest the White Reaver might actually still be alive and the White Phantom actually protected the Reaver. In any case, I asked whether or not this was “the” White Reaver from Side Story. Chris confirmed that it was, although I’m not entirely clear if he understood that I was asking if it was Sana’s White Reaver. It might very well be “a” White Reaver.

I also asked if people that can only get the Xbox One in 2014 (due to the launch delay in several countries) can still get the bonus dragon (which you get when you buy the game before Dec. 31st 2013), which they couldn’t answer, but they thought it was a good question and mentioned that they’ll look into it. Surprisingly, when I asked if the bonus dragon was “a certain blue armored dragon”, Chris replied that it wasn’t. This leaves me wondering just what the bonus dragon will be, as it’s hinted to be from the Panzer Dragoon games.

Fourth Twitch.tv Crimson Dragon Live Stream Recording

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Published by Solo Wing .

A recording of the latest Crimson Dragon live stream is now available on Twitch.tv. This time we’re shown an underground subterranean level along with the Darkshoulder dragon type. There’s some good discussion of the game and lots of comparisons to the Panzer Dragoon series.

Chris Rubyor discusses how Crimson Dragon links in with Crimson Dragon: Side Story:

The side story was complementary to the overall game. Great little app, great little game, but you’re going to learn more about Draco, you’re going to learn more about the dragons, you’re going to see the dragons in full detail. This game basically tells the players what’s really going on in this world. So again, Side Story was complementary to this experience.

At 22:16 minutes into the video there is a question about the game’s storyline. Rubyor gives a brief summary of the game’s back story. He also teases about a plot twist featured near the end of Crimson Dragon:

There’s a whole bigger story to it. Earth is involved still even though technically we’ve broken contact with Earth. There’s also some ancient ruins. At the end of it there’s this cool twist. I don’t want to give it away. When you beat the game you’ll literally go “wow!” … So we have a really deep story that Futatsugi-san and the rest of the team as well as writers here at Microsoft have put together for everyone that purchases the game.

Crimson Dragon: Side Story certainly had a surprising ending; I expect we won’t see Crimson Dragon’s twist coming either.