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586: Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge

Posted: January 4th, 2023, 10:58 am
by JaySevenZero
Here's where you can contribute your thoughts and opinions for Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge for potential inclusion in the forthcoming podcast.

A friendly reminder that where the feedback for the podcast is concerned, we love it - but keeping it brief is appreciated. We do want to include a breadth of opinions where appropriate, but no-one wants a discussion podcast that’s mostly reading out essays. Better to save yourself time and cut to the chase if you can.

Re: 586: Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge

Posted: June 4th, 2023, 9:01 pm
by AndrewElmore
There's something interesting about distinctly western flight-combat games as compared to something like Ace Combat. Crimson Skies (High Road to Revenge, at least--I've never played the PC original) feels more akin to something like Factor 5's Star Wars: Rogue Squadron games, at least in structure. Or indeed Lair. Or the oddly underrated Snoopy vs. the Red Baron, for that matter. It's a different version of the ace pilot fantasy, opting for an almost silver-age-comics aesthetic. What if you replaced the titular character of PORCO ROSSO with a swashbuckling Nathan Drake type? What if CASABLANCA had a weird, sort of diesel-punk-adjacent spinoff video game with fantastical aircraft and sky pirates? What if the floating dirigible really is the air travel of the future past? What if aeroplanes had brightly glowing health pickups? These are some of the oldest questions mankind has been asking since the dawn of recorded history, and only Fasa Studio was brave enough to posit an answer to all of them at once.

It's been some years since I've spent any meaningful time with Crimson Skies on the Xbox, but my memories are fond. Sure, I could go play it on my Series X right now and relive it honestly, but I love the version of the game that lives on in my memories, and I'd like to preserve that version. In my romanticized recollections, Crimson Skies isn't a flagship multiplayer title for Xbox Live, a service I was not able to access at the time due to our home router being on the other side of the house from where the Xbox lived in the days before wi-fi. Instead, it is purely a high-flying single player adventure, vast in its melodramatic scale. When I think of Crimson Skies, I think of the deafening roar of primitive propellers, keeping me in the sky by sheer force of raw horsepower over any kind of complex aerodynamic engineering. I think of the wind battering my crude sherpa-lined leather helmet and goggles, as the spent brass casings of my nose-mounted machineguns fly past my head into the water below. I think of the smell of diesel and motor oil trailing from pockmarked holes in the fuselage as I try to maneuver between steel trusses of a bridge to grab one of those aforementioned glowing health pickups to keep my plane in the air.

I'm sure that's not at all an accurate representation of the experience of playing Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge, but I'm certain that it's how I'll choose to remember my time with it.