Reviewed: September 8, 2006
Released: February 7, 2006
We must go way back to 1987 (when I was 4 years old) when Crystal Quest was released for the Macintosh computer. Since then Stainless Games has produced a remake of this popular shooter, Crystal Quest. Sure itís got the same name, but itís been overhauled and much improved in my opinion.
The goal in Crystal Quest is simple and manages to go beyond just shooting things. Each level starts you out as a silver ball in the middle of the screen. Your goal is to collect (move over) all the crystals in each level, thus opening up the exit gate located at the bottom of the screen. After passing though the gate you precede to the next level where there are progressively more crystals to collect, objects to navigate around, and enemies to avoid.
Enemies come out of two portals on the left and right side of the levels. Running into an enemy will kill you instantly so itís wise to stay away from the portals whenever possible since enemies warp quickly and without warning. You have two methods in which you can eliminate them. One is to use your primary weapon which blasts small pellets in burst or you can bust out a smart bomb (that you collect in each level) which not only eliminates all enemies on screen, but also takes care of any mines.
Small solid objects are lying around each level (minus the first few depending on the difficulty level you are playing on) making it important to avoid them. There are times when avoiding them is impossible and youíll tap one. Fortunately the developers have made it harder to kill yourself when you run into them. Itíll take several quick hits in a row to lose a life. In fact, you can blow up when trying to exit through the exit gate if you arenít careful.
There are several modes of difficulty to choose from. The default setting makes the first 20 or so levels relatively easy. Great for beginners and boring as heck for experienced players. Once youíve tested your abilities Iíd highly recommend upping the difficulty so that you can obtain more points for each level and enjoy a more challenging game from the beginning. Itís also important to up the difficulty if you want to compete with your friends for the highest score or anyone on the Xbox Live leader-boards.
One pleasant addition to this revised classic is the addition of just that, the classic 1987 version of Crystal Quest. Itís safe to say that I was much happier with the revised game than the classic, but itís nice that they included it in the package. Iíd recommend trying it out so that you can see how much Stainless Games improved it and also to hear some of the hilarious sound effects.
Itís easy to say that the new 2006 version looks better than the 1987 classic, but itís not as good as it should have been. I can envision them doing more with the backgrounds than leaving them plain, motionless, and a solid color. Is it too much to as for cool high-resolution images to grace the background? How about going one step further and making the backgrounds swirl colors, fade images in and out, or have something going on. Its disappointing overall, but at least it looks incredibly better than the classic version.
What sounds? All I heard was one soft, boring music track that kept repeating itself over and over. Then I heard a squeak-toy sound whenever I picked up a crystal, and an explosion when I got shot, ran into a mine, or died in some other fashion. Oh yes, a bell goes off once you collect all of the crystals to signal the opening of the exit.
The sound is boring, simple, and also disappointing. I can understand the simple sound effects, but not the lack of good background music. Prepare to put the 360's custom soundtrack feature to good use with this title.
The main game consists of 60 levels which will really test your abilities and patients. Good luck working your way through them on classic mode as well. Add to that download support for updated graphics and sound as well as an even harder difficulty mode which is in the works.
At 400 Microsoft points ($5.00) this game isnít too expensive and is a good option for an easy 55 Gamer Score points. Overall thatís not a bad price for a nicely updated classic that youíll keep coming back to play.
With all of the old school shooter options on Xbox Live Arcade (Geometry Wars, and Robotron: 2084) it may be hard to distinguish Crystal Quest from the crowd. But if you look closely youíll find a very fun, challenging, easy to pick up and play shooter that will entertain you for hours when you want to take a break from all the great current generation titles.