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Arcade Review: Crimson Alliance


Xbox Live Arcade Games

Free (Each class has price point)

Individual Class Member- 800 MS Points

Full Team Members- 1200 MS Points


Xbox Live Marketplace Page

Developer- Certain Affinity

By: Daizoren

Bearing the true definition of what it means to be an arcade game, Crimson Alliance does it’s part to bring us back to the old days of spending countless tokens or quarters at an arcade playing games like Gauntlet where the objective is to basically use all of your powers and skills to get through wave upon wave of enemies while traversing a desolate, yet magical world. Does Crimson Alliance do it’s part in revitalizing this style of game or does it bring shame to the top down arcade titles of our past?


When watching the cutscenes, each video consists of painted pictures with audio acting to tell the story. The art itself is done with masterful skill that only a trained painter could replicate. When the gameplay starts, the detail of the characters and the interactive elements in the environment look somewhat plain. The environments themselves look nice and when things get hectic within a fight, some of the lights, bells and whistles of the game will certainly show themselves.

Using countless magic spells, avoiding arrows, exploding containers filled with evil souls and machine guns, finding secret areas and fighting waves during the end of most levels is a treat and will be a workout for the eyes, but throughout most of each level, the graphics can be a little lacking. Boss fights and harder enemies have the ability to make force fields, throw you off balance and push you away if you get too close and each of these abilities has it’s own special effect that pulls off nicely with lots of neon colors, bright lights and warping effects.


From the start you have the ability to choose from 3 different classes, the Wizard, the Assassin and the Mercenary. Each of these characters has their own specialties and their own strengths. The mercenary is blunt and uses close up battling in order to take down his enemies, the assassin can stun a group of enemies in order to take them down quickly and without being harmed, the Wizard can teleport and use spells to take down enemies from a distance. Of the three, the Wizard (also being the main character of the story) seems to be the most powerful. You can avoid just about every single obstacle by teleporting and you can deal a great amount of damage from a far distance away, not to mention that he can use a freezing ability to stop enemies dead in their tracks, leaving even more time to take them down. The other two classes can deal out their damage, but the Mercenary seems to be the least powered, which is surprising given that he’s the biggest character and uses only close encounter weaponry.

As you progress through the game, you gather gold which allows you to purchase upgrades. You can also spend 80 Microsoft Points on the game to get an instant 40,000 gold which does come in handy if you don’t want to be taking all of your time waiting to get enough money to upgrade. You can purchase new clothing, spells and weapons that increase your stats and allow you to dish out more damage and have higher health. Overall, this gameplay scheme does work out, albeit one character seeming more powerful than the other two.


The music for Crimson Alliance only seems to play when you’re not actually playing the game. Whenever you start a level, you hear very little music, only initiating it when discovering a secret location or finishing a battle. The only music really heard in the game itself is the drum. It plays jungle-type beats that give you that rugged warrant to fight. The sounds all add emphasis to the game, explosions are deep and loud, machine guns are constant and distracting (In a good way), yells from enemies let you know that there are enemies ahead and you’re warned when you’re low on health. While it’s not a whole lot overall, the game works well with what it was given.


The wizard of the game comes to in a haze and can’t remember anything other than that he needs to save the city he’s looking at. As he continues on his journey, being joined by his two comrades, he stumbles upon more things that allow him to remember what he’s doing, who he is and why he’s there. This kind of story line has been told to exhaustion and while the story isn’t really the selling piece of this title, it does seem to play an important role given that almost every level beginning or end has a cut scene to flesh out more of what’s happening. It’s a bit dull, but it gets a little interesting near the very end.


The main achievements of this title will probably grab you just about half of all of the achievements, which is pretty normal for most games these days. You’ll bring them about by fulfilling the storyline and the rest are going to take some time and patience. The harder ones such as beating all the levels and getting gold medals will take quite a long time seeing as how most first playthroughs will barely break into the silver medal region. There’s nothing too fancy to these achievements, but some will take some practice and skill work.

Replay Value

As there are three different classes in this title, the developer was certainly thinking that there should be a replay element to the game. Add in the fact that you can have your friends join in on the carnage and you’ve got yourself a great recipe for fun. While it’s a lesser known title, it may be hard to see many people playing this title say, one year from now, but for now it’s a solid title that will give you plenty of hours of playtime.



  • Smooth Gameplay
  • Multiplayer Replay
  • Fun Arcade Feel


  • Lacking Detail
  • Unbalanced Characters
  • Lack of Music

Crimson Alliance will probably not be a breakthrough title that gets game of the year or anything along those lines, but it does do a decent job of bringing life back into some old arcade nostalgia as well as bringing some fun, memorable end boss fights for this year to come.

Graphics – 8.0

Gameplay – 8.0

Sound – 7.75

Story – 7.50

Achievements – 8.0

Replay Value – 8.5

Overall – 8.0


5 responses

  1. I’m still struggling to see why all review sites list this game as “free” – the developers don’t claim it’s free (check the game’s official FAQ) and for sure there’s no more free content here than in any other XBLA trial game and you CANNOT play the game all the way through for free.

    The only system-type difference is that the dashboard says achievements are unlocked – well, they might be, but you’ll never collect any without paying up. The only gameplay difference is that shop you mentioned as a positive comes BEFORE the trial blocks you from playing any further, which (unfortunately for me) seems a bit of a sneaky move. Watch you don’t buy gold until you’ve committed to unlocking the game!

    September 25, 2011 at 9:26 am

    • Up above it does not tell you that the game is completely free. The all character pack is 1200 MS Points and then each class is priced separately. How many other sites have you seen this mistake on?

      September 25, 2011 at 9:39 am

    • We are also going by what the press release had said. It’s free to play to a certain level. It’s listed as a full game in MP.

      September 25, 2011 at 9:40 am

  2. Pretty much every review site says it’s free and it’s the general view of people/punters until they play it a bit, so I’m not saying anything specific about you guys. I actually think this is a good and fair review 😉

    The developers/publishers definitely seem to have botched the initial marketing, but their FAQs now clearly state (and have done for a while now) that this is not a free or freemium game in anyway, they just “had” to list it and have the dashboard say about the achievements because of the deal they struck with MS because it’s apparently not _exactly_ like every other trial (I suspect due to the variable price you can pay to unlock it, plus shop and IAPs, rather than the amount of content or free-mess of the trial).

    September 25, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    • I’ll admit that even I was confused by the whole thing when I was asked to review the game. I, too, thought that you could play the game for free and I actually had planned to do a side by side comparison of the game playing for free versus playing with the unlocked players, but it ended up being just a trial so I can understand the frustration there, but I guess it’s not too surprising that it would end up that way. It was just misinterpretation of what they meant by being able to buy the characters.

      September 26, 2011 at 6:52 pm

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