Pros: Excellent use of cel shading, easy to get into, randomized
Cons: No multiplayer support, some repetition
Crimson Tears is made
by two companies that know fighting games. Capcom is well known for Street
Fighter, Final Fight and their Vs. series games. Dream Factory is a
little less known outside of Japan, but you probably heard of Tobal No.1
and the Bouncer. Originally, Dream Factory worked along side of
Squaresoft when they made the Tobal series, which was critically
acclaimed as one of the best fighting series on the original Playstation.
The Bouncer was Dream Factory's concept of a fighting RPG, which was
mixed with Squaresoft's cinematic approach. The game didn't work out,
but they continued to work on the idea of a fighting RPG. With the help
of Capcom Crimson Tears was born and Dream Factory has made a hit.
2049 genetic research leads to the creation of three biological super
humans: Asuka, Kaede and Tokio (in English Asuka was changed to Amber
and Kaede to Kaide). These super weapons are created by A.R.M.A., a
weapons manufacturer, in hopes of destroying a set of biological weapons
that reside in a dimensional maze within Tokyo. All three characters can
do basic punch and kick attacks by pressing square and X. Pressing
triangle will make your character use their finishing move, which can
kill off normal enemies instantly. To counterbalance for button mashing
and over use of the instant kill move each character has a heat meter.
Every time you attack, even if you don't hit an enemy points are added
to the heat meter. Stronger attacks like the instant kill move add more
points to the heat meter than a basic punch. When it's full your
character can deal extra damage, but will rapidly lose life until they
die. This is an excellent gameplay mechanic, which forces players to
fight efficiently. Unlike standard beat-em up games where you can mash
the attack button all night long. Dream Factory has added a number of
"cool down" items that can lower your heat meter. These items can be
found in the levels or you can purchase them at one of the stores before
entering a stage.
Before you go into a level you'll have a chance to pick one of three
characters. Each of the three characters have their own set of
equipment, which causes them to handle a little differently. Asuka
wields two blades, Kaede has the ability to throw bombs and Tokio can
hold two guns at once like he's from a John Woo movie. Switching off and
playing with each character is a good idea since they each have their
own level. Like any other RPG game your characters get stronger in the
form of leveling up when they defeat enemies. One interesting note on the
three characters is that if one of them loses all their HP in the maze
one of the other characters has to go in and rescue them. To make
matters worse they have to find the other character with a limited
amount of time and no access to items. If they don't find the other
character and time runs out that character is gone. No continue,
no phoenix down, no extra life, nothing. So, you have to use at least
two characters or prepare for a lot of resetting of the game.
The main maze, which is appropriately called the "dungeon" is
randomly made for each of the levels. Dream Factory made a good move by
having short randomly generated dungeons rather than lengthy levels. The
randomized dungeons ensure that players always have to explore rather
than memorize the location of where to go. Each of the levels are broken
into three parts. You'll need to find a teleporter to delve deeper into
the dungeon where eventually you'll fight a boss monster. Dream Factory
has added a few more elements to separate Crimson Tears from the
standard beat-em up gameplay. First their is item collecting, an
important part of an RPG, possibly even more important in Crimson Tears.
Enemies drop items and at the very least gold. This gold can be used to
buy new weapons or rebuild the town. Rebuilding the town means the
development of more shops, hence better items. There are also a number
of side quests that the townsfolk will have you do, which normally
entail finding a rare item.
Crimson Tears really shines in the graphics department. It has a
clever use of cel shading that gives it the style of a living anime. To
top it off all of the characters have a large set of attacks that are
streamed flawlessly when combos are performed. Some of the monsters look
really cool too like the first boss monster which looks like a living
pool of water. The boss has a good set of reflective qualities and a
transparent effect. Speaking of the monsters they're pretty well
designed and quite diverse. You get a giant green mutated tiger on one
screen then a light blue sloth like zombie on the next. The backgrounds
look good, but there could be a little more variation. I mean how many
sewers do you have to walk through? Overall, though Crimson Tears is one
of the better looking games on the PS2.
Crimson Tears is a lot of fun to play since it is so easy to learn
and to get into. One thing question that remains is why Dream Factory
didn't add a two player mode in the game. Most beat-em up games are
better enjoyed with a friend and it is such a simple thing to add that
would add a lot of replay value to the game. Crimson Tears can get a
little repetitive, which is more a fault of the beat-em up genre than
the game itself. Part of its addictive qualities are rooted in
repetition such as searching for the best items. In conclusion, Crimson
Tears remains an entertaining game and does a great job of making a
More import friendly than most RPGs because you can figure out how
to play by trial and error. However, since all of the text is in
Japanese along with the voice acting you'll miss out on the story.
You'll also have some difficulty doing side quests without any Japanese
Crimson Tears has been announced for a US release, but no set date
is given yet.
Crimson Tears is an excellent blend of a beat-em up game
with an RPG. Fans of both genres will agree.