When Xbox made the very cool announcement that the Xbox One would go beyond last gen compatibility to last-last gen with the original Xbox, two words sprang to mind – together they were “Crimson Skies“.
It was an absolute fave of ours on the original big black and green boxy thing, so we were delighted to discover that it was one of the first 13 games to be given the backwards compatibility treatment.
For those who missed it at the time, Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge (to give it its full title) is a super-playable future-retro (apparently the term is “dieselpunk”) arcade aerial combat game. Set in an alternate 1930s, it brings piracy to the skies of America. You take on the role of pilot protagonist and leader of the Fortune Hunters air piracy gang, Nathan Zachary, who is determined to wreak revenge for his fallen friend, “Doc” Fassenbiender.
But that’s not important right now.
Uh, what is then? Well, how does Crimson Skies fare on modern hardware (both console and TV) some 14 years since its release?
To start with, getting it happening is easy. We popped our original Xbox disc into our Xbox One and were alerted to the need for an “update” (we suspect that this was actually just a download of the game). Anyway, a short time later we finally got to play (it should be noted that the disc needs to be in the drive to do so – or you can buy the game in the Xbox Games Store).
As we should have expected, the loading screens looked rather fuzzy and ick. Also, of course, the game pops up in a 4:3 ratio on a widescreen TV – meaning black bars down either side. So far, so not so good.
But then we started playing. Memories came flooding back, but more importantly the lack of 2017-style graphic fidelity didn’t matter, proving that a great game is a great game, regardless of any prettiness or lack there of.
Several hours later we plucked ourselves from our nostalgic bubble, but we will definitely return.
The big question here though, is why on Earth haven’t Microsoft Studios ever released a sequel or proper remaster? OK, so Crimson Skies wasn’t the biggest-selling Xbox game, but it was one of the highest ranked at the time, and has become a genuine cult classic since.
Come on, Xbox, how about it? Goodness knows that a new first party hit would shut some of the haters up.