Developer 10tons has been one of the biggest Nintendo Switch supporters, especially in the top-down shooter department. Between Neon Chrome, JYDGE, and Time Recoil, they’ve essentially cornered that section of the market for themselves. Recently, they released their newest 2D shooter on the Nintendo Switch – Crimsonland. Unlike the games that came before it, this title is focused on carnage and blasting through hordes of spiders, zombies, and lizards. Once again, it is a port of a game released much earlier, so how does it hold up?
At first glance, Crimsonland doesn’t leave a great impression. The cover art is strikingly similar to DOOM, a fault that is more emphasized due to that game’s recent release on the Switch. That said, the two games couldn’t be more different.
While most of the ports that have come to the Switch are only a few years old, Crimsonland is nearly 15. Having been released back in 2003, it’s not exactly the most desired game to bring to Nintendo’s hybrid console. The more concerning aspect of this is how 14 years of progression have impacted the quality of Crimsonland.
Unfortunately, time didn’t bode well for this title. Being released on significantly inferior computer hardware, Crimsonland is an ugly game. Everything is covered in muddy colors and edgy textures. The animations of the enemies themselves aren’t great. To put it all simply, it looks like a title that I would’ve played on Bubblebox.com back in the days of Flash games.
This fact wouldn’t be so bad if Crimsonland didn’t play like a Flash game. It’s a very quick title focused on arcade-style play rather than a strong sense of progression. There are single-player missions, but they all center around the same idea: shoot a particular set of enemies with a different weapon. It does try to break up the action by offering a perk every time you level up, but that is downplayed by the fact that your level and perks reset for each level. Because of this, it doesn’t feel as if there is any progression and some stages feel a little imbalanced as a result.
There are two modes to choose from in Crimsonland: the aforementioned Mission Mode and Survival Mode. The former is just placing you in the path of hundreds of creatures that you must take down without dying. The latter is a bit more exciting, testing how long you can survive. There are different variants of Survival Mode, but they all involve nothing more than changing your weapon setup.
With all of this archaic design, I have to say that Crimsonland isn’t all bad. As you play through levels, you will unlock new survival modes and weapons to use against waves of monsters. The latter is way more exciting, as the weapons are varied and still satisfying. While some are definitely better than others, that’s part of the fun of collecting them all.
Furthermore, the gameplay isn’t bad on its own. Crimsonland, for the time that it was released, is actually a very well-designed game and has some great and fun ideas that could keep people playing for a while. Moving forward to 2017, that’s where things get a little more shaky, which brings me to one of my biggest questions with this game: why does it exist now?
Let me explain. 10tons has already released 3 critically-acclaimed top-down shooters that each appeal to a different style of gameplay. The arcade genre is already covered with Neon Chrome. When you bring Crimsonland and put it against these other three games, it simply doesn’t hold a candle. It just hasn’t held up after 14 years.
If you choose to get Crimsonland, understand that the amount of time you spend playing it is solely dependent on how much you enjoy doing the same thing over and over. There isn’t a lot of content to the game other than shooting enemies until you’re blue in the face. If you enjoy this, you’ll get a lot of play time out of Crimsonland, but if it’s not your cup of tea, then I would strongly recommend looking elsewhere.
Adding salt to this wound is the fact that the game costs around $13. On its own, that’s fine. But, if you spend just two dollars more, you can get the experience of the better shooters than 10tons has put on the Switch (Again, Neon Chrome is a very similar experience that has been extremely modernized).
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Crimsonland was provided by 10tons for this Crimsonland review.