For players who grew up with the Panzer Dragoon games on the Sega Saturn (or more recently, Panzer Dragoon Orta on the original Xbox), Crimson Dragon for Xbox One will look appealing. This game follows a similar pattern to Sega's flying series, allowing you to shoot enemies while using an on-screen reticule for targeting, and occasionally rolling out of harm's way to keep your dragon from losing health.
When you first get started, there are two options to choose from: Casual and Classic. Those of you who are experienced in the ways of Panzer Dragoon will want to go immediately with Classic, as it'll increase the challenge with tougher enemies. If this is your first time, don't be afraid to give Casual a shot.
After that, you'll go through a brief tutorial on how it works. It's pretty simple to use, with the left analog stick controlling your dragon's position on the stage (it's on-rails) and the right analog stick to aim the on-screen target reticule. It's important to have both working in conjunction, using the reticule to shoot enemies while evading incoming shots.
You can just glide out of harm's way by moving around the screen with the left stick, but your best bet is to use the barrel roll technique. You’ll even earn an Achievement for using it the first time, and it pays tribute to the classic StarFox with a "Do a Barrel Roll" moniker.
To barrel roll, simply tap the left or right shoulder buttons, depending on which way you want to go. If you see fire coming towards the right side of the screen, for example, roll to the left, and vice versa. Keep an eye on the attacks your enemies lined up, act accordingly and then target those suckers to blast them from the sky.
Now, in terms of offense, there are two types of fire that your dragon will come with. The first is general flaming shots, which you can use to hit enemies quickly and conveniently. However, you'll need to be accurate with your reticule in order to hit them, or your shots will fly right past. Also keep in mind your dragon will need to occasionally recharge – he's not a machine gun.
The other type of fire involves lock-on burst shots. Place your reticule over the targets you want to shoot and then tap the right trigger to execute your shots. This is great when it comes to locking on to faster enemies, though the shots aren't as powerful as the burst fire.
To switch between these two firing mechanisms at any time, simply tap the left trigger. If your reticule turns blue, you've got your burst shots. If it's orange, lock-on is good to go. Try out both and see which one works best for you.
Along with smaller enemies that usually come at you in groups, you'll also need to contend with boss enemies. The first stage has two nasty types in particular that you'll need to deal with – a small, fast-moving winged monster, and a bigger lava creature that jumps around as it pursues you.
With these guys, the lock-on fire works best, unless you're really close – which you will be when they come swooping by. Try to switch to your burst fire when they get in your proximity, then switch back to lock-on when they get back out. It can be a tricky process to learn at first, but it works in bringing them down quickly.
Timing is everything, because each boss comes with a certain amount of time to destroy it. It can range anywhere from 45 seconds to around 1:30, depending on the strength and ability of the beast. (These will become more difficult as the game goes on.) If you can defeat these guys within the time limit, you'll earn a better grade for that part of the stage. All four grades from the stage then add together to give you an overall grade, translating to a number of credits that you can use to power up your ride
One thing you'll really want to watch out for is the consistently changing surroundings. For instance, in the first stage alone, you'll have to contend with hanging rocks and lava streams by swooping out of the way. Failure to do so could cause tremendous damage to your beast, and eventually bring you back down to Earth.
Here's one last bit of advice: watch out for orbs. These not only give your creature precious energy, but also provide a path to follow when the going gets a little rough. You can chain together barrel rolls without having to recharge, so don't be afraid to keep moving.
We'll have more advanced tips for you in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, check this game out, and enjoy the power of dragon flight!
Crimson Dragon is available now as a digital download for Xbox One.