Castle Crashers

Developer: The Behemoth
Platform: Xbox 360
Also on: PS3
Release Date: Aug 2008

Click here for Castle Crashers trailer

Whatever happened to games like Streets of Rage? The kind of games that you called your friends over to play, with all of you sitting on the floor, yelling commands at each other? The kind of games, in short, that DREAMS were made of?
They just don’t seem to exist anymore and, frankly, I blame 3D.
Thankfully, Castle Crashers harks back to that golden age of 2D beat-em-ups, but with some subtle improvements to the genre to make sure it doesn’t feel stale and that’ll have players coming back for more.

The Set-Up:
Four knights are hanging about in the castle, doing knight stuff with their respective princesses, when SUDDENLY! A Bad Guy appears! He soars in, steals the princesses and makes off with the beloved Crystal Orb, causing one hell of a mess in the process. Which means…the knights have been crossed! They must set out, to retrieve their princesses, slash up the evil minions, and beat up the Bad Guy.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that this is game clearly designed for multiplayer. It can be played in a single player campaign, but what’s the point? The fun to be had is in killing enemies before your friends and sharing the experience of fighting an enormous boss battle together. It’s the wild frantic kind of fun that childhoods were built on, similar to discovering there is only one bourbon cream left.

You begin on a map screen and there are multiple routes to follow. You will inevitably end up on that same last stage, but it’s nice to have the option to explore different areas at your own leisure. As well as level stages, there are also shops where you can buy power up items such as potions and beefy sandwiches :), as well as weapons and assist creatures.

This is where the extra elements come into play. Hitting things is fun, that’s a universal fact, but it is only fun for so long. Your character can earn experience points which will up their levels. Through this, you may learn new moves and improve attributes of your choice (i.e. strength, magic, defence and agility).
Strength = Hitty things wham bam GOOD!
Magic = Zappy zappy burn fire ICE explosion face!
Defence = Invincible, ARGHHHH! Stronger than the Hulks Nokia 3210!
Agility = Me go fasty fasty zoom ZOOM! (Also good at shooting arrows for some reason).

Weapons can also be found/bought to improve your attributes, though some can only be equipped when you reach certain levels. Others exist purely for comedy value. Despite popular belief, the fishing rod is the assassination weapon of no one. Animal assists are a nice little novelty also, giving you special abilities such as higher jumps, levelling up faster, or uncovering secret items for you. They come in all varieties, such as pigs, giraffes and birds, all of which can fly. (Warning: game may not be historically or biologically accurate)

And of course, all of these skills are employed in the actual game which is, in a word, zany. Whacky. Quirky. Weird. I’m aware that’s four words right there, but it’s difficult to describe this game in just one. From the developers that brought you Alien Hominid, what else would you expect other than a giant man-eating piece of corn, or an evil swimming cat-fish monster? It’s wonderful that the game is so fluid and easy to pick-up-and-play. But the fact that it has such a weird sense of humour to compliment it as well is truly the icing on the cake. Small things, like the ways in which the Bad Guy taunts you are great, but there are moments that are so bizarre that you can’t help but laugh out loud (or LOL, as the French put it.)

There are only four players to begin with, each with their own special magic abilities, but more can be unlocked over the course of the game, or by fighting in the arenas. The Xbox version has a button bashing mini game called All You Can Quaff, whereas the PS3 version has a superior vollyball game. At first glance, it might not seem like there’s a lot here to keep you coming back. However, it is such fun game that you will have no problems just starting again, with slightly different characters, and playing through this joyously simple and wonderfully entertaining adventure.

Overall:
Plain and simply, this is a game that is nearly impossible not to enjoy. The graphics and hand drawn art design are charming in their simplicity, and the controls handle perfectly. It takes the simple joy of slashing up bad guys and just about perfects the art. Not overly long, will probably clock in at about 3-4 hours, but plenty of replay value. An ideal game to play with friends (if you have them), one that simply oozes nostalgic charm.

Rating: 9/10

Aghhh, help me!” – All of the Princesses

Shamelessly Awful Facts:

  • One enemy dies by falling into a pit of lava. As he sinks, he raises his hand in a thumbs up, a reference to Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
  • The PS3 version of the game has a downloadable Pink Knight Pack. This features a pink knight as an unlockable character, and all proceeds from the content are donated to the Breast Cancer Research Association.
This game is kind of like:
  • Waking up in my cousin’s house on a Saturday morning, where we would always have Rice Krispies before either watching the X-men cartoon, or play an old Sega game (I know this probably doesn’t make sense to most readers, but it is a perfect summation from my point of view).

 or

  • Nokia (connecting people)
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