Crimson Skies Flies Again?

By Alec Meer on August 4th, 2009 at 12:26 am.

ratatat-tat and all that

Oh my, I really do hope so. I confess don’t have much time for flight sims these days, but the greatest love I’ve ever felt for this most venerable of PC genres is divided equally between Stunt Island (a game I’ve been deliberating how to best write about for several years now) and Crimson Skies. The latter is a wonderful thing, a out-and-out joyous blend of stupidity, stunts and style in an atmosphere-rich airpunk world of sky-pirates and 1920s derring-do. It was Hollywood dog fights incarnate, and it looked, felt and sounded pretty much as perfect as shallow wee me could possibly wish for from a flight sim. Splendid multiplayer too, plus it was the best partner I ever did find for my beloved Sidewinder 2 Force Feedback joystick. And it might be coming back.

Crushingly, the only sequel to date, High Road To Revenge, was Xbox only. However, between the rumour of a new sequel and the Mechwarrior series, which originates from the same stable, enjoying a PC-friendly, modern-tech reboot, my hopes for this firm-chinned air combat series to return home are pretty high.

Of course, it’s all based on groundless speculation, but hey, that’s the most fun kind of speculation. And frankly, the more positive talk the internet can generate about Crimson skies, the better the chances of this happening.

The flurry of interest comes from Jordan Weisman, founder of FASA Corp, who owned the rights to the Crimson Skies universe (which in fact began life as a boardgame, which I really must find a copy of). He’s also one of the chaps behind kickstarting the Mechwarrior revival. He let this slip to Gamespot:

“I think Crimson Skies is something we’d love to get some energy around, and we have some devious plans…we’ll see if those materialize.”

By ‘let slip’, I do of course mean ‘outright told, probably in the hope of generating hype and fan petitions’. Still – exciting news. Sadly it’s pretty much impossible that original Crimson Skies devs Zipper Interactive will be at the reigns, as they’re owned by blimmin’ Sony these days. That said, the console sequel survived transition to a different (and now sadly defunct) developer relatively unscathed, so hopefully that can either happen again, or Weisman and Microsoft will be able to convince some of the old guard to return to the fray. More of this is what we want:

Fingers crossed, what-what, tally-ho.

(There really is a lot of retro revivalism going on in games this Summer, isn’t there?)

, .

53 Comments »

  1. The Colonel says:

    My God that first game was amazing. Came back to it a few years ago after struggling to get it to work on XP, only to discover it was so dated that I abandoned it immediately lest it taint my happy memories of it. A PC sequel would be most exciting, especially if the multiplayer returns. I remember spending the first half an hour of every session just customising my plane. Love it!

  2. Serondal says:

    Crimson Skies battles in my mind for favorite old-skool non-realistic flight-sim game (Wow, that’s a lot of -s) with DragonStrike.

  3. Bobby says:

    Looks awesome!

  4. DarkNoghri says:

    High Road to Revenge had a prequel on the PC? Who knew? I liked the Xbox version a good bit, so I’m all for this.

  5. obo says:

    Same interview: Weisman says Shadowrun won’t get another game until the stink from the last one goes away.

    So he sits on the the license after the Genesis game, joins Microsoft, leaves Microsoft, lets Microsoft squeeze out a SR-branded turd, then uses said turd as an excuse to sit on the license again. Great.

  6. Chris Evans says:

    Never played this, but did play one of the MS Combat Flight Simulator games a fair bit over my neighbour’s when younger. I don’t think we were any good to be honest, but who cares :D

    Would be good to see some more flight/combat sims on the PC set in the olden days. Guns > missiles :)

  7. David says:

    I loved the original, so I really hope we get a new one. Heck, I might even go out and buy a joystick for it…

  8. Drakkheim says:

    Oooohh .. please please please please….want want want!

  9. Al King says:

    Great! The first remains one of my all-time-favourite games.
    I hope if a PC sequel comes it’s closer to the original than the Xbox game, I didn’t like how far they took the arcade B-movie bit in that one. Though perhaps the problem was just that it wasn’t as good a game. (The multiplayer was meant to be great, though.)

  10. TychoCelchuuu says:

    I would look forward to a new Crimson Skies even more than the new MechWarrior, which is saying a ton. Crimson Skies is fantastic. Amazing soundtrack.

  11. Squirrelking says:

    Man, all these old games coming back of late has me wishing for a Tie Fighter re-issue as well. Plus the old style (pre-missiles/jets) sims were the best IMO.

  12. Vinraith says:

    I loved the original tabletop game and greatly enjoyed the PC translation (which did a great job of carrying the sense of the world created in the TT version). Here’s hoping this does come about, and is done well. Same goes for the new Mechwarrior, for that matter.

  13. Elman says:

    For a second there I thought it was Crimson Echoes. Ouch.

    Thanks for reminding me of my hate for Square-Enix.

  14. Serph says:

    A next gen, PC, single player and online multiplayer Crimson Skies? Excuse me while I go hyperventilate…

  15. Miker says:

    @Elman

    chrono trigger fan on RPS, what!

  16. KP says:

    I’ve been a Battletech fan for more than half my life. When I saw that trailer for Mechwarrior I almost cried with happiness. :>

    I remember getting Crimson Skies to work under XP is a terrible pain, if you can at all. -and the supported screen resolutions suck. It’s sad. I want to play it now. :(

  17. cdm says:

    This guy has just recently created a fix for running Crimson Skies on modern systems, 32bit colour, widescreen resolutions etc. Works pretty well;

    http://timeslip.chorrol.com/

  18. NSMogav says:

    DO WANT!

  19. newt says:

    Stunt Island (a game I’ve been deliberating how to best write about for several years now).

    Please do!

  20. Charlie says:

    Ohpleaseletitbesoohpleaseletitbesoohpleaseletitbeso

    My God, CS was my first online game, the first game I got involved in “clans” (squadrons for us), and the first time ever that I got to “socialize” while playing a game. Because all the players connected via Microsoft online gaming hub, there were no “servers” and there was a general chat for all players were mayhem, defiance, challenges, insults, bragging and stupidity run free! And it was frakkin great!

    Oh, please let it be so. My Sidewinder 2 is just accumulating dust these days.

    TFS_Grendel out.

  21. RiptoR says:

    @cdm : Marry me! (read: thanks a lot for that link :p)

    @article: I truly hope they make a new Crimson Skies for PC. I (p)reviewed a lot of arcade flightsims in the last couple of years, and none came close to the fun I had with the original Crimson Skies.

  22. smac says:

    Ah, a truly barnstorming game – a pity the machine I originally ran it on didn’t have enough grunt, and the final chase through the city dropped to something like 1 frame per second, rendering the game impossible to complete. Still have it, and I keep wondering if I should source an old PC and install Win98 on it just to play this brilliant game.

    And yes, I still have my Sidewinder FF2, strange initial erectile throb and all. A perfect marriage for CS.

    @DarkNoghri: the PC game was more complex; you had full control of the roster of planes (once you researched/unlocked each airframe) and could completely customise the loadouts, which I believe was simplified in the Xbox version.

  23. Dante says:

    I played the Xbox version a while back and really enjoyed it. It’s hard to explain why, because it didn’t offer anything particularly spectacular, but there was something wonderfully charming about the whole affair.

    @ Dark Noghri

    That is not what prequel means!

    Sorry, that’s a little pet peeve of mine.

  24. Jp1138 says:

    I spent countless hours making movies with Sunt Island… Somebody should do a better The Movies+Stunt Island game :)

  25. Schmung says:

    bah, if there were a ‘gaming regrets’ type of list where you lament the lost opportunities of your gaming life then Crimson Skies would be on it. I missed it when it first came round due to circumstances I can no longer remember and by the time I’d decided to re-aquaint myself with it things had moved on a bit too much.

    I do hope that they conjure some sort of sequel as it’s fantastic setting and idea.

  26. Strang says:

    You’ve inspired me to go install it again. I wonder if it supports lan?

  27. LewieP says:

    Well, there is always Dark Sector, made by some of the same guys as High Road To Revenge, with some similar flying bits, and that is coming to the PC.

  28. Andrew says:

    Man i loved this game this is great news. Tried to reinstall it on xp a while back and it didnt work right at all. So thanks for pointing us towards the patch at Not easy to find though its at the left bar right at the bottom. Hope it works

  29. Andrew says:

    html fail sorry

  30. ToadSmokingDuckMonkey says:

    Being unable to convince a player group to let me run Crimson Skies, I whipped up a variant ruleset which streamlined the air combat and sped things up for non-propheads. It ended up a 6 session mini-campaign, with the main player complaint being that they had no idea what they should do and that they just waited for me to suggest options.

    I didn’t know what to say. Airships, crazy airplanes, a U.S. split asunder, and sky pirates. I think that is enough to go on…

  31. Thingus says:

    I hereby nominate cdm for some kind of RPS award. I’ve been looking for a fix for a while, thanks man :D
    In related news, absolutely topping! It’s about time someone re-did this.

  32. roryok says:

    WOOHOO!!!! I just spent the last week replaying the original and wishing someone would make another one.

    Fingers now crossed for an i76 remake / sequel-that-doesnt-suck

  33. Lack_26 says:

    I remember having the demo of the first one, I loved that game.

  34. ChrisCDN says:

    I was glad to see your comment about Stunt Island. Even today I wouldn’t hesitate to rank SI in my top five games of all time. Please consider this the encouragement you need to write an article about it!

  35. ironanno says:

    Only ever played the single player of Crimson Skies. Until I got stuck in the level with the smallest aircraft in the game. The name Nathan Zachary does bring back fond memories though. The game came with a joystick I believe. Best random game to come along with something I bought ever.

  36. fugo says:

    i want it i want it i want it i want it i want it i want it i want it i want it i want it i want it i want it i want it

  37. Thom_D says:

    I have been trying to get this game to run on my machine and because nVidia and ATI seem to be really short sighted and have tweaked their drivers so that they don’t run older games (And then blame the developers) I can’t finish playing it. I tried the timeslip patch mentioned above and still no dice.

    I hope that Smith and Tinker go the same route as MechWarrior and give the game away when they do the re-boot. Hoperfully they will tweak it to run on newer hardware and OS’s.

  38. Davee says:

    Oh yes, this would be awesome. I played the first game lots and lots, my favourite semi-flight-combat-sim ever! I’d rather play something like this than the MW game (and I’m a fan of MW too!). That intro brings back memories :)

  39. KP says:

    @ cdm: thank you so fucking much. that link needs to be in a news post, here!

  40. Scandalon says:

    Really liked the xbox incarnation, sounds like the original was even better. Thanks for the intro movie Alec, I really love how they captured the zeitgeist of that era. (I mean, the real era that inspired it… ;)

    Also, I had noticed the tarot cards thing in the background of the xbox version only after I had played it for several hours, and now I see it at the end of the intro movie here…anyone know how it ties in w/ the series? Was it part of the TT version?

  41. Guhndahb says:

    While I usually hate arcade-style flight games, and prefer to spend a half hour flipping switches to get my bird into the sky, Crimson Skies just had too much style for me not to appreciate it. While I wish the flight model were a little less absurd, it was great fun and I’d love to see more of it on the PC.

  42. DarkNoghri says:

    @Dante

    It didn’t feel right calling it that, but if HRTR was technically a ‘sequel’ (which it may not have been), I would think the first would be a ‘prequel,’ at least retroactively. I mean, what would you call it?

  43. roryok says:

    @DarkNoghri

    As far as I can tell, HRTR was really more of a re-imagining than a direct sequel. It did change a few characters and story elements around – tho I can’t remember specifics.

  44. Frrorgman says:

    @Guhndahb
    I couldn’t agree more!

  45. Bassem B. says:

    I loved everything about Crimson Skies. The art direction, the voice acting, the cheese, the MUSIC (the menu music is happily burned in my memory forever and is playing now in my head).

    Sadly, I was shit at it, as with any flight simulator. I’d launch the game, get all excited in the menu, set up my plane to the finest detail, then start flying and crashing into the ground or trying vainly to keep any target in my crosshairs. “Aw, shucks…” I would go.

  46. ShineDog says:

    The tarot thing ties in to Nathan Zachary’s Gypsy heritage, and it’s simply the logo of the fortune hunters. Take a look for it on the side of the pandora in both incarnations.

  47. Fenchurch says:

    Hey does anyone remember an old game called “Sand Warriors”? Kind of an Egyptian themed sci fi flight sim… I always wondered if it was any good…

  48. Brass Gerbil says:

    Stunt Island was quite simply the greatest game ever made for the PC platform.

    That’s how you write about Stunt Island.

  49. Strang says:

    If you are going to use this game on vista, you may need the fix, found here: http://timeslip.chorrol.com/temp/csfix2.7z