Radiangames Crossfire 1 & 2

Games by Radiangames for Xbox 360, both originally released in 2010.
Radiangames has produced a series of games for the Xbox Live Indie Games channel, each of which focuses on a different gameplay concept. These concepts range from a twin-stick shooter, to an interesting take on the once-popular dot-eating genre, to a Gauntlet-style action-RPG. The thread that links these titles is their pick-up-and-play nature, and high production values.

Crossfire 2 marks the first time that Radiangames has revisited a previous concept, and it offers a number of improvements over the original title. Both the original game and its sequel are outlined in detail below.

Crossfire, plays a bit like Space Invaders. However, rather than enemies slowly marching down the screen, they simply move back and forth (and sometimes up and down), and the player is free to warp from the bottom of the screen to the top.

All of the gameplay is centered around this warping ability. Early on, enemies will enter the screen in a basic formation, with all ships aiming upward or downward, and the entire formation will flip toward the opposite direction periodically. This helps you to learn the warp mechanic and figure out when it is safe to move from one side to the other. You might be inclined to stomp the WARP button the second you see the enemies flip around, but that would be a mistake. While you’re invincible during the warp itself, you could potentially materialize in front of a line of bullets that hasn’t yet reached the wall, which will lead to your ship’s sudden and beautiful demise.

As you progress, you’ll encounter different enemy types, each with their own way of making the formula somewhat more complex. Some enemies can fire in both directions at once, while others will take damage if you shoot at them from one side, but will reflect your shots back at you if you shoot from the other. Later in the game, you’ll even find ships that make their neighbors invincible, and enemies that can fire diagonally.

As you destroy enemies, they will drop pink ammo pickups that power your super meter. These drops will float slowly toward one edge of the screen or the other, and you can wait for them to hit the bottom to collect them, or warp through them to pick them up. You see, in addition to your standard infinite-ammo weapon, you also have a more powerful one that depletes the ammo you collect from enemies. You can use it whenever you like, provided you have enough ammo remaining. It does more damage and has a wider spread than your standard shot.

However, your standard shot can be upgraded as well by grabbing pickups dropped by enemies. By default, you fire bullets in pairs, but each upgrade increases this by one, for a maximum 6-wide bullet stream. Other upgrades include a speed increase, full ammo for your super weapon, and a time slowdown effect.

A point multiplier increases based on the number of enemies you are able to kill without dying. You’ll also get a score bonus for making it through the level without dying and for defeating enemies quickly, and your score contributes to the earning of 1ups. The game has a total of 50 waves, and if you manage to make it through them, you’ll unlock Turbo and Megawave modes. Turbo mode speeds up the movement of the player, enemies, and bullets, and increases the point multiplier. Megawave puts you up against one huge continuous wave.

The basic mechanics of the original Crossfire are in place in the sequel. Your ship’s horizontal movement is still restricted to an area along the top or bottom of the screen, and you are free to warp between the two using the triggers. Destroyed enemies still drop pink ammo pickups that power a super meter that allows you to fire a powerful barrage of gunfire.

However, where the focus of the original game lay primarily in its warp mechanic, the gameplay in Crossfire 2 is much more focused on its upgrade system. Taking a note from Inferno, the third in the Radiangames series, Crossfire 2 has a shop system that allows you to purchase upgrades for your ship.

In the original Crossfire, you could grab pickups to add additional projectiles to your bullet-stream, letting you fire in a wider swath and deal more damage. Here, you’re free to upgrade whichever aspect of your weapon you chose – or to skip gun upgrades altogether, if you wish – and this additional mechanic changes everything.

At the start of the game, you’ll have an allotment of points to spend in a shop-like interface, and you’ll revisit the shop every couple of levels. Upgrades are divided into 3 sections: Ship, Shot, and Superfire, and each section has multiple slots that can be filled.

In the Ship category, you can increase your health or speed. Under the Shot category, several options are available, including the number of bullets fired at once, how much damage they do, their rate of fire, the angle of their spread, and how fast the bullets move. And lastly, Superfire allows you to upgrade the overall power of your limited-ammo super weapon, how quickly your shots deplete the super meter, how well they do against shielded enemies, and you can add the ability for the bullets to auto-attract more ammo.

This range in abilities allows players to take on the game however they wish, creating anything from a speedy ship with lots of health reserves, to a chugging bullet-spewing juggernaut that slices through waves of enemies like a chainsaw through a rose garden. Points can be redistributed each time you enter the shop, so you’re not stuck with any particular choice. You can lay on the heavy arms in one level, and then drop them down to enhance your speed the next time you’re in the shop.

Other improvements include the addition of a health bar. You start out with a couple of units, but you can increase it by spending your points. But health is expensive (4 points per additional unit). For that price, you could increase the strength of your projectiles and your firing rate, so it’s up to the player to find the balance. Also included are multiple difficulty settings, and online leaderboards so that you can see how your scores fare against those of other humans.

Probably the biggest change in minute-to-minute gameplay is the speed at which the insanity unfolds. Crossfire 2 definitely assumes that you’ve played a bit of the original Crossfire. In the original game, players were eased into the mechanics with a few minimally populated waves of enemies with slow firing rates. Here, the escalation is much quicker, large enemy formations appear early and often, and projectiles are abound and aplenty.

Crossfire 2 features 60 waves in its Conquest mode (the main story mode), and offers a Conquest Plus mode for players who have mastered the first. There’s also a Score Attack mode, which starts out pretty hectic, and just becomes moreso as things unfold. Several new enemy types have been added to Crossfire 2 as well, including a higher number of the large-sized enemies.

Radiangames is an independent development company based in Illinois, which focuses on making games for the Xbox Live Indie Games channel, established with a goal of releasing a game every month or two.

Radiangames was founded in 2010 by Luke Schneider, who has more than a decade of industry experience. He has worked in design roles on games in the Descent and Red Faction series, as well as The Punisher and Alter Echo during his time with Outrage Entertainment and Volition.

In 2010, Radiangames released a total of 6 games:
  1. JoyJoy - the "happy twin-stick shooter", profiled here
  2. Crossfire - profiled above
  3. Inferno - the twin-stick action-RPG, profiled in detail here
  4. Fluid - a 30-level dot-eating game with power pellets, teleporters, and swarms of enemies
  5. Fireball - an overhead arena-style game where you control a fireball to lure ice enemies together and destroy them with huge explosions
  6. Crossfire 2 - profiled above