Crimson Dragon to Feature Panzer-Inspired Bonus Dragon?

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The PlayXBLA live stream linked to in the previous update confirms that there will be six different species of dragons in the game, from different parts of Planet Draco (each which can be evolved multiple times). A seventh bonus dragon will be available to players who purchase the game before December 31st. Chris Rubyor hints at what this bonus dragon may be:

I don’t want to give away the surprise, but it was inspired by other games that Futatsugi-san or Yukio Futatsugi has worked on in the past. So I think people will be pleasantly surprised.

What “other games” could Rubyor be talking about besides Futatsugi’s Panzer Dragoon franchise? I would love to play as a long horned dragon inspired by Panzer Dragoon in Crimson Dragon or even the Blue Dragon himself if Microsoft has worked out a deal with Sega.

Whatever this bonus dragon turns out to be, obtaining it could be impossible for players who cannot purchase the Xbox One this year. Unfortunately in response to Draikin’s question on Twitter, PlayXBLA responded that the exclusive dragon will only be available until December 31st, 2013. I certainly hope that Microsoft will change their minds about this.

Third Crimson Dragon Live Stream Recording on Twitch.tv

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A recording of the third Crimson Dragon live stream is available. You can view it on Twitch.tv. The playthrough includes the Coral Lake area in the day time, along with the Coral Lake level again set in the evening. It reminds me of Uru in Panzer Dragoon Saga which could be experienced in both the day and the evening. Pretty.

The scoring system was explained, along with rewards system. It looks like there will be lots of items that can be collected and customisation that be done to the dragons; there will be something for RPG fans as well as shooter fans in Crimson Dragon.

The revival gem system was also shown, which involves in-game microtransactions. It appears that the revival gem system will work similar to Crimson Dragon: Side Story’s jewel system; you’ll be able to purchase gems with real money and use these as “continues” if you die during a mission. Crimson Dragon: Side Story also allowed you to level up, making the missions easier on subsequent playthroughs, so buying these jewels will likely be unnecessary so long as you’re prepared to put time into the game. My personal view is that it’s unfortunate that Crimson Dragon will break the immersion by containing microtransactions. Doing well in the Panzer Dragoon shooters was due to skill rather than than based on time or money (even if it takes time to get good at the game). Microtransactions, especially at a time when the player is vulnerable, are exploitive.

On a more positive note, the partner dragon system sounds like it will increase the game’s replay value. You’ll be able to share your customised dragons with your Xbox Live friends. Dragons that your friends (or other members of the community) have customised can be used in missions as “wingman” dragons. To obtain an S rank, it will be useful to download dragons from the community and use their skills to assist you in your mission.

Second Crimson Dragon Demo Playthrough on Twitch.tv

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A few days ago, PlayXBLA had a second livestream of the Crimson Dragon demo on Twitch.tv. This time around they showed an exclusive mission that was only shown behind closed doors at Tokyo Game Show. They also mentioned they will be playing Crimson Dragon next Wednesday as well. Here are some of the more interesting tidbits Chris Rubyor mentions in the video:

  • Panzer Dragoon is one of Chris Rubyor’s favorite game franchises.
  • The dragon being used in the demo is the Blood Skin Magma, a higher tier evolution of the regular Blood Skin.
  • Dragon evolution is an important aspect on the game, and there are over 90 unlockable skills.
  • There are six different dragon species, each with their own tier of evolution. A seventh dragon is exclusive to those that buy the game before December 31st. Chris mentioned the exclusive dragon is being stylized in a way that fans will really appreciate. Was he talking about Panzer Dragoon fans?
  • When targeting enemies, creatures will be highlighted in green, white or red. Green means your current weapon is effective versus the creature. White is neutral, and red means your current weapon will do below average damage. Equipping the best skills is crucial to getting high scores.
  • There’s online coop up to 3 players, both in normal bosses and battles. Their goal is to have all levels playable in coop.
  • There’s no PvP in the game.
  • The levels have destructible environments, but there are no branching paths.
  • Jewels you get after completing a stage can be used to buy treasure packs (including things like revival gems).
  • There’s a classic and casual mode. Classic mode gives gamers the challenge you’d expect from a rail shooter like this, while casual mode provides an easier challenge. Classic mode gives you extra experience points.
  • Chris mentioned there isn’t any actual free flight outside of the boss fights, but also said “who knows what the future holds…” Most likely, he was referring to Yukio Futatsugi’s wish to create a Crimson Dragon RPG. Hopefully, Crimson Dragon will be successful enough for that to happen!

Crimson Dragon Demo Playthrough on Twitch.tv

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Microsoft had a livestream of the Crimson Dragon TGS 2013 demo on Twitch.tv, where Rukari Austin (XBLA Community Coordinator) and Christopher Rubyor (lead game designer of Crimson Dragon at the Microsoft side) each play through the two playable levels of the demo. The audio and video quality isn’t the best, but it still gives us the best look at the game we’ve seen so far.

The first level is situated towards the end of the game, but there seems to be little to no actual spoilers. The second level is a boss fight where we get to see the game’s free flight mode in action, apparently giving the player full control over the dragon instead of being on-rails. This was made possible by the use of the traditional controller instead of just Kinect. Additionally, Kotaku reports that the game is no longer fully playable with Kinect. A move which I doubt anyone will regret.

Crimson Dragon Was Moved to Xbox One at E3 2012

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Speaking with Eurogamer, Yukio Futatsugi explained when the decision to move Crimson Dragon from Xbox 360 to Xbox One was made:

Microsoft made the decision to make the switch at E3 last year, where it notified Futatsugi. “We were talking about these things in a hotel room and was told this news. I was shocked, but you know ultimately I think it’s worked out well - though I won’t forget that episode.”

Despite the initial shock, Futatsugi’s happy for the new higher-profile opportunity. “When we’re creating a launch title, that’s a great challenge and is worthwhile to work on,” he said. “To be able to create a launch title with Crimson Dragon, well I was initially surprised but at the same time I thought that this is some really worthwhile work to do - so that’s how I felt.”

This isn’t the first time that Futatsugi has developed a launch title. Panzer Dragoon was also a launch title for the Sega Saturn back in 1995.

New information has also been revealed about the game’s Kinect controls:

In the Xbox One’s Crimson Dragon, players can guide a partner dragon by leaning their body, while elsewhere free roaming sections have been introduced for boss battles. With gamepad controls reinstated, the link between Crimson Dragon and Futatsugi’s past Panzer Dragoon games is stronger than ever.

I’m curious how these free roaming sections will play out. No doubt new information will be revealed before or when the game is released.

150 Minute Wait to Play Crimson Dragon

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Futatsugi posted this photo on Twitter of people waiting in line to play Crimson Dragon at Tokyo Game Show.

Crimson Dragon Tokyo Game Show 2013 02

Grounding "Interested in RPGs For Crimson Dragon"

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Speaking with Siliconera at Tokyo Game Show, Yukio Futatsugi told them that Grounding is interested in developing Crimson Dragon RPGs (note the plural) if Crimson Dragon sells well:

When we asked Futatsugi what sort of games he would like Grounding to work on as the company matures, he replied, “If it sells well, we’d be interested in RPGs for Crimson Dragon, or even outside of the franchise. My personal interest is in smartphones. They’re gradually becoming capable of having visuals like this.”

Of course Crimson Dragon will need to sell well for one or more RPGs in the series to be developed, either on console or mobile, but it is nice to know that Grounding are thinking ahead. Panzer Dragoon Zwei complemented Panzer Dragoon Saga nicely because it was written with the expectation that Saga would follow; I imagine Crimson Dragon would complement a Crimson Dragon RPG in a similar way.

Crimson Dragon US$19.99, Xbox One Exclusive, and More

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News has been posted to Xbox Wire detailing Crimson Dragon’s release. As previously confirmed, the game will be available on November 22, but unfortunately for those who want to play the game on Xbox 360, the game has been confirmed as an Xbox One exclusive.

Launching exclusively for Xbox One for $19.99 (USD) on Nov. 22, “Crimson Dragon” enables you to harness a powerful dragon and take to the skies in this thrilling shooter where humanity has been driven to the brink of extinction on a planet ruled by dragons. It’s up to you and your friends to control the winged beasts as you battle for supremacy. Purchase and play “Crimson Dragon” before Dec. 31 and receive an exclusive dragon to help you rule the skies.

Hopefully the exclusive dragon will still be made available to players who cannot purchase an Xbox One in 2013, including Japan where Crimson Dragon is being developed.

Crimson Dragon Tokyo Game Show 2013 Trailer

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“When we came here, it was to start again…”

Also available on GAME Watch and on our YouTube channel.

There’s also some new info in a GAME Watch article which we’ll attempt to translate later (read: Google Translate) to see if it contains anything of importance. At a quick glance, the main new piece of information appears to be that the game will sell for $19.99.

A Photo of Crimson Dragon at Tokyo Game Show?

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Yukio Futatsugi has posted a photo on Twitter along with the word ‘‘準備できた!” which in English means “Be ready!”. It is very likely that this photo is of Crimson Dragon at Tokyo Game Show.

Crimson Dragon Tokyo Game Show 2013 01

Crimson Dragon Will Be Playable at Tokyo Game Show

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Microsoft has announced its lineup for Tokyo Game Show, revealing that there will be eight playable Xbox One titles, Crimson Dragon among them. Tokyo Game Show 2013 takes place on September the 19th until the 22nd. That’s next Thursday until next Sunday.

At E3, Yukio Futatsugi told Polygon that his team were still working on balancing the game to work well with both the gamepad and Kinect. It will be interesting to see if the Tokyo Game Show demo includes many improvements, especially as the release date is not far away at all.

Crimson Dragon to Be Released on November 22

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Microsoft has revealed that the Xbox One will be released on November 22. Previously Microsoft announced that the system would launch in November with Crimson Dragon as one of its 23 launch titles; now we have a specific date for when the Xbox One and Crimson Dragon will arrive.

Bring on November the 22nd and let’s hope that Crimson Dragon isn’t delayed again.

Crimson Dragon Xbox Platform Exclusive or First on Xbox

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Microsoft has posted Xbox One’s lineup on games on Xbox.com. Among the list is Crimson Dragon. Interestingly, Crimson Dragon isn’t listed as an Xbox One exclusive, but as game which will either be exclusive to the Xbox platform or will be released exclusively first on Xbox. Specifically, the words used are:

Titles in bold are Xbox platform exclusives or exclusively first on Xbox

What this means for Crimson Dragon remains to be seen. It at least doesn’t rule out an Xbox 360 or PC version of the game. The Xbox 360 can certainly be considered a part of the Xbox platform, so perhaps Crimson Dragon will still make it to the 360 after an initial Xbox One launch (the 360 version has not been officially cancelled). Perhaps we will see a version of the game on other Microsoft platforms at a later date, similar to the PC releases of Microsoft published Xbox games such as Halo, Gears of War, and Alan Wake.

November Xbox One Launch Lineup Includes Crimson Dragon

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Gamespot has posted a list of the Xbox One’s launch titles, a list which includes the long-awaited Panzer Dragoon spiritual successor, Crimson Dragon. Crimson Dragon will be released along with 22 other titles on Microsoft’s next-generation Xbox One console when in launches this November. The exact day of the month when the Xbox One and Crimson Dragon will be released has yet to be revealed.

Unfortunately the Xbox One will only launch in some regions this November. These regions include Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom, United States, and New Zealand. For Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and Switzerland, the console (and consequentially Crimson Dragon) has been pushed into 2014. My thanks go to Ars Technica for this information.

My Life With Sega Reviews Panzer Dragoon Saga

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The ‘My Life With Sega’ video review of Panzer Dragoon Saga is now online. It’s a great review which is suitable for new players as it’s spoiler free, while still showing off a decent amount footage from the game. Hopefully we’ll see a Panzer Dragoon Orta review in the future when A.J. gets a chance to play it.

Edit: A news story about the video has also been posted on Segabits.

My Life With Sega Reviews Panzer Dragoon

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Segabits has released a video review of the first two Panzer Dragoon games, as part of their ‘My Life With Sega’ series. It discusses how Panzer Dragoon was the best Saturn launch title and why these games stood out from other rail shooters. It’s a nice retrospective look at Panzer Dragoon and Panzer Dragoon Zwei.

A Panzer Dragoon Saga video review is planned for July the 17th.

Futatsugi Still Hopes to Make a Crimson Dragon RPG

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Speaking with Joystiq at E3, Yukio Futatsugi confirmed that he still hopes to make an RPG sequel to Crimson Dragon. Futatsugi stated earlier that the possibility of an RPG follow up would depend upon the sales of the first game. Richard Mitchell from Joystiq writes:

Right now the team is focused solely on finishing the current game, he said, but the story and atmosphere of Crimson Dragon have been crafted in such a way that it could easily be turned into an RPG. Grounding already has many team members who worked on the likes of Panzer Dragoon Saga and Panzer Dragoon Orta, including Crimson Dragon’s programming lead, design lead, art lead and sound team. When the decision was made to bring Crimson Dragon to Xbox One, the team also acquired the art designer from Futatsugi’s original Xbox cult classic, Phantom Dust.

Joystiq also asked Yukio Futatsugi if he would like to see a high definition version of Panzer Dragoon Saga, similar to the recent re-releases of NiGHTS into Dreams and Jet Set Radio:

He would like to see Saga re-released, he said, and the subject comes up from time to time at the Grounding offices. Usually, these discussions end with the team realizing that the game would be very difficult to remake. Still, Futatsugi said he would love to play it again.

We plan to send our petition for a re-release of Panzer Dragoon Saga to Sega when it reaches 1000 signatures, so if you haven’t done so already, please sign it.

Yutaka Noma Talks About Enhancing Crimson Dragon

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Yutaka Noma, Crimson Dragon’s producer, has spoken to Siliconera about the enhancements that Grounding are bringing to the updated Xbox One game. These changes were possible due to the extra time which Grounding has had to work on the game, although Noma stresses that “there has been nothing to fix”:

What you see is still a work in progress. One of the key things we decided to do was enhance the visuals. The [Xbox One] is so powerful that we can express our vision much more with this console. We are also enhancing the dragon breeding system; depending on how you do it, your dragon evolves in different ways. So your dragon might not look like mine. Ours will also have different attributes; your might be faster, but mine stronger.

Noma also reiterated the point that Yukio Futatsugi made earlier about gamepad support being added due to feedback from “passionate fans”:

“In the beginning, Microsoft approached Futasugi-san about doing a Kincect game for the Xbox 360, and he came up with a vision to do the ultimate Kinect game, with dragons,” Noma revealed. “We actually wanted to support both the Kinect and a regular controller in the very beginning, but it takes time and lots of work to support both. Then we got lots and lots and lots of feedback from passionate fans, who all said ‘please support a controller’. Because of the new technology and added time, Futasugi-san went ‘okay, let’s go for it!’”

The “lots and lots and lots of feedback” which Noma talks about can be seen all over the Internet. I’m glad that Grounding had to opportunity to add this enhancement.

Another Crimson Dragon Picture From E3

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True Achievements has posted the high resolution Crimson Dragon screenshots posted by Gamersyde earlier, but they’ve also included an extra picture. Although they have listed it as a screenshot, I don’t think it actually is one. Rather, it appears to be a composition of models from the game put together with the new Crimson Dragon logo in the centre. In any case, it makes for a good desktop wallpaper.

Crimson Dragon Composition Picture 01

I’ve added the picture to our archive.

Grounding is Working on a Nintendo Game

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Joystiq reports that Crimson Dragon developer Grounding is also working on a project for Nintendo:

Grounding Inc is hard at work creating Crimson Dragon for Xbox One, but the studio is also making another unannounced project for Nintendo, game director Yukio Futatsugi tells Joystiq. Unfortunately, Futatsugi didn’t offer any details about the game or which platform it’s being developed for.

This might mean that Grounding cannot start work on a hypothetical Crimson Dragon RPG sequel straight after Crimson Dragon is released. Or it might not; developers sometimes have more than one project on the go at once. In any case, I don’t think this alters the chances of seeing more Crimson Dragon related content (DLC or a sequel) in the future.

More Crimson Dragon Previews From E3

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I’ve rounded up some more impressions of Crimson Dragon from E3, including the likes of IGN, STFUandPlay, TechnoBuffalo, GamesRader, and Co-Optimus.

IGN’s impressions were positive, citing the many similarities with the Panzer Dragoon series. Their article is even called “Crimson Dragon Is Definitely a Panzer Dragoon Game”.

Crimson Dragon is, straight-up and without even trying to hide it, a Panzer Dragoon game. “Spiritual successor” doesn’t seem an appropriate way to describe what is shamelessly, lovingly a Panzer Dragoon sequel in disguise. The function and feel of the on-rails dragon-flying shooter is near identical, albeit more refined for the era, to that of its greatest influence.

Tony Polanco from STFUandPlay explains that game’s difficulty is quite high (although not in a bad way); a representative told him that the final game will be even harder:

The demo took place inside of a volcano and you had to fight a bunch of huge monsters and even other dragons. You had to dodge enemy attacks in addition to crap falling from the volcano. The demo had some boss battles as well. The final boss battle was really tough. Even though I won, it was only by the skin of my teeth. I’m glad to see that the old Panzer Dragoon difficulty hasn’t been messed with too much. However, I was told that the final game will be harder so that should be pretty interesting.

However, TechnoBuffalo’s impressions suggest the opposite:

I will say, as a fan of Panzer Dragoon, this on-rail shooter absolutely feels like an aging experience. Perhaps they turned the difficulty way down for this little showcase, but Crimson Dragon almost felt like it played itself. Except for occasionally dodging really obvious obstacles, my only real task in the demo was aiming and firing. That’s it.

Unfortunately, there were more complaints about the controls. GamesRader writes that Crimson Dragon’s controls felt sluggish:

Problem is, though Kinect controls are now “optional,” the controller controls don’t really feel right. The on-rails shooting never really felt as accurate as we hoped, and aiming around the screen was slow and mildly unresponsive. Games like Sin and Punishment (and, obviously, Panzer Dragoon) are so impressive because of their tight controls, which lend themselves well to difficult gameplay, but Crimson Dragon was sluggish.

However, talk of the controls wasn’t all bad. Co-Optimus writes of the new controls more positively:

The controls felt nice, and the jump from a 360 controller to an Xbox One controller wasn’t exactly a huge change. I had a little bit of an issue with losing the reticule among the action, something the studio rep on hand said was a known issue and was being worked on. Otherwise, the dragon controlled fast and fluid. The only problem was my inability to dodge as effectively as I should have been.

From all of the impressions so far it sounds like the controls are the main feature that Grounding needs to work on. There are still months until the Xbox One launches in November which should hopefully be enough time to get the controls right.

Crimson Dragon Will Feature "Free Flight" Mode

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Tracey Lien from Polygon reports that Crimson Dragon will feature a free flight mode, alongside the on-rails mode:

The game will also have an on-rails mode and a free flight mode so players can decide how much control they want over the movement of their dragon. We played the on-rails demo but were still able to determine where our dragon moved with the left stick while aiming with the right stick.

It is not clear what the free flight mode entails beyond this, but I’m hoping for the option to explore Crimson Dragon’s levels with free roaming controls after they’ve been completed, similar to Panzer Dragoon Saga’s flight mode outside of battle.

The article also explains how the asynchronous multiplayer works when your friends are not available to play in real time:

[P]layers will be able to take part in real-time multiplayer battles with friends or they can play with the dragons of friends who are offline in the asynchronous mode. The game will support Xbox Live friends lists and, if players don’t have any friends, they will be matched with strangers.

I’m looking forward to playing alongside some of you, be that synchronously or asynchronously.

Pocket-lint Previews Crimson Dragon at E3

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As with Destructoid’s preview, Mike Lowe at Pocket-lint takes issue with Crimson Dragon’s visuals and particularly the game’s controls:

There’s an undeniably similar look between the Crimson Dragon and Panzer Dragoon games. But look isn’t feel - and the version of Crimson that we played felt too rigid and had too soft a control system to really engage in the same way as the Sega classic.

Mike goes on to praise the game’s concept, however:

If anything can save it, it’s the games slightly bonkers concept and set piece - from the fish-dog-like boss enemy through to the po-faced lava worm in the middle of the level we played - that drives much of the appeal. No other game has a feel quite like this, and when dragons are aligned more with futuristic cool than the more typical medieval swagger we want to be impressed. But we’re not quite blown away yet.

Crimson Dragon’s uniqueness is definitely what sets the game apart from the mass of generic mud-brown realistic military shooters for me. Grounding has something quite special here. Now they just need to improve the other aspects of the game, adding some well-rounded polish to make Crimson Dragon worthy of the Panzer Dragoon legacy.

Destructoid: "Crimson Dragon Feels Like a Shaky Mess"

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And now for a not so positive preview of Crimson Dragon. Brett Makedonski at Destructoid writes:

The first and most striking facet of the demo was that the game simply did not look like something that anyone would expect from next generation titles. The wear and tear of years of uncertain development ring obvious, as its visuals looked like nothing more than a middle-of-the-road game from 2011.

Besides disapproving of the visuals, Brett takes issue with the controls:

There might have been some leniency with regard to the graphics if the game played well. Unfortunately, it didn’t. The camera moved so dramatically and randomly, that it was near impossible to actually focus my aiming reticle on my target. On the rare off-chance that they actually did line up, it felt like nothing more than blind luck.

The same went for controlling the flight of my dragon. While it was obvious that I needed to avoid the projectiles of my enemies or the obstacles of the environment, the camera ensured that I would constantly be unsure of whether I needed to move, or if everything would swing around in a way in which if I did move, I’d actually swing right into the path of whatever I intended to avoid.

Let’s hope that Grounding gets these control issues sorted.

OXM's E3 Impressions of Crimson Dragon

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Francesca Reyes from the Official US Xbox Magazine has posted her impressions of the E3 Crimson Dragon demo. No new information here. She concludes with the following:

Though our time with Crimson Dragon was brief, the good news for Sega and Panzer Dragoon fans is that this fluid-feeling rail shooter has all the right moves in place to scratch that classic series’ old-school itch – but with the visuals and a sense of scale that’ll make it feel at home in this generation (and the next) of games. And now that its controls aren’t tied to Kinect-based gestures, we’re hoping it signals the start of something beautiful and different on Xbox One and for Japanese indie studio, Grounding.

However, even though you can play with a gamepad, the game is still tied to Kinect-based gestures if it is to support both control schemes - unless Grounding chooses to offer radically different gameplay under each control scheme.