Crimson Dragon still lives - and is not far from completion

Panzer Dragoon creator's XBLA shooter still in development.

Crimson Dragon, the Kinect-powered on-rails shooter from Panzer Dragoon creator Yukio Futatsugi, is still in development, and is still coming out despite missing its initial June 2012 release date.

First announced at 2010's Tokyo Game Show as part of a concerted effort by Microsoft to get a foothold in the Japanese market, the subsequent silence around the game has led to assumptions that the game could have been cancelled.

Microsoft assured Eurogamer that development was still going ahead last December, and an old press demo mysteriously appeared on Xbox Live in Japan earlier this year before quickly being pulled.

"Well, the game has been delayed and I know people are waiting for it, but it is definitely moving ahead," Yukio Futatsugi told Eurogamer at last week's Bitsummit meeting in Kyoto. "Microsoft will announce it when they're ready."

And how far is it away from completion? "I can't say," said Futatsugi. "But it's really not far off."

Crimson Dragon is being developed by Grounding Inc. Its resemblance to Panzer Dragoon is unmistakable - and it's a resemblance that's not entirely unintentional.

"The reason we started working on Kinect is that Microsoft approached us to say they had this new tech and asked if we would be interested," explained Futatsugi. "I felt I could definitely do something interesting with it. I gave them several proposals but Microsoft said, 'No, how about a dragon game?' Originally I had intended to make something totally different, but they said, 'Something similar to Panzer Dragoon would be great.'

"But actually when we started working on it I realised that a rail shooter is perfect for Kinect. Kinect can't handle too much movement - you can't move totally freely. Also, it's better to keep the number of recognised movements simple so as not to confuse the Kinect system - and these things make a rail shooter the ideal choice."

It likely helps that Grounding is home to several veterans of the Panzer Dragoon series. "It definitely feels nostalgic. Some of the original staff are on the team with me, which is a real blast from the past. The same programmer, the same dragon designer, and (Tomohiro) Kondo, my superior when I made Panzer Dragoon and someone who taught me so much, is the lead game designer this time. It feels just like the old days."

Is there any concern for Futatsugi on how fans of the original Panzer Dragoon games will respond to Crimson Dragon? "Yes, yes, very much so! I'm working hard to make sure no one says, 'The old one was better!' But Panzer is Sega's IP and this game will be different from that. The design concept of the dragons and the environments is very different. All I can really do is finish it. Anyway, games are made differently these days, so I hope people will see this as the sort of game Panzer Dragoon might have been if it had been made today."

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