In the action heavy, arcade style line-up for the
Neo Geo hardware, you won't find a RPG (Japanese exclusive CD release Samurai Shodown
RPG excluded). That makes Crossed Swords a unique entry, even though it too is
almost non-stop action. It's requirement for extreme amounts of dexterity and reaction
time will put it out of many fans control; it's the RPG elements that have a chance of
drawing them in however.
This co-op or single player title is played from behind the back
of the generic heroes. It's not entirely that far removed from the Punch-Out
series, relying on pattern recognition and timing. Enemies show their hand before their
move, and it's necessary to quickly retaliate or block appropriately.
It's easy in the early going, gold is plentiful, and enemies drop quickly. As time moves
on, even with the extra powers, the enemies become too fast to tolerate. The large sprites
feature limited animation, which actually creates a better sense of impact when a blast
connects. Power-ups are plentiful, though never really the ones you need. They release far
more gold than health.
The story is more involving here than most Geo titles. It's clichéd and cheap of course,
but still gives the game some purpose. It plays out in various cinematics, switching from
the mostly static action environments to different locales where people from the kingdom
let you in on the next task. It never deviates from the basic action.
Those RPG elements are not spectacular, but they're enough to
separate it from any other basic brawler. There's great satisfaction is purchasing a new
weapon and putting it to use. It's the old adage of "you get what you pay for,"
and the weapons only seem to change power. There's no way to throw money away with a sword
you find unusable.
All of that is simply wasted in the later stages. It doesn't matter what weapon you own.
It gets to a point where it becomes more luck than skill, which alienates the die-hard RPG
fan from the outset. It's not easier with a friend either, as the enemies simply increase
The home version limits your continues to one, so the MVS version is far more desirable
(though obviously beatable the first time through). It's not a total waste, as Crossed
Swords unique viewpoint offers up a different take on a standard hack and slash, and
it's one that has an audience. It's for the patient ones with the best reflexes possible.