Castle Crashers is out now on Xbox Live Arcade for a price of 1200($15) Microsoft points. Is it worth the money?
Short Answer: Yes
Castle Crashers is the second game from indie developer The Behemoth. Their first game, Alien Hominid, provided a good gun & play game and a crapton of fun in the form of the PDA games minigame. I spent hours playing AH and a lot more playing the PDA games, so I was pretty eager for Castle Crashers. A Side-Scrolling Beat ‘Em Up for four players with RPG elements and more unlockables than you can shake a sword at? Consider me sold.
I was not dissapointed.
Before the game even starts, we are presented with the unique art style, which is all completely drawn by Dan Paladin a.k.a. Synj. I have loved this style since the moment I first laid eyes upon it in the Alien Hominid flash games. In the retail version of Hominid, the borders on some of the drawings/sprites/characters/whatever were kind of jaggy. However, they are a lot smoother in Castle Crashers, which in turns means the game looks fantastic.
Next, we hear the sounds of what seems to be the most epic soundtrack ever. It’s not the most epic soundtrack ever, but it sure is great. All of the music was submitted by Newgrounds users and hand-picked by the developer themselves. Some of the songs are repeated on certain levels, but I’m not complaining considering how catchy and energetic most of the songs are. Every song in this game is enjoyable. That’s all you really need to know.
The games story is probably not even needed, but it’s here anyway. Honestly, I would be okay with just starting the game, sword in hand, and then randomly breaking into the horrendous slaughter of thouusands of enemies. This is not the case, though. The game starts with the players’ characters enjoying a dance in the castle of their residence. All of sudden, an evil wizard breaks in and steals a very large crystal, which seems to have great power. Amidst the chaos, four princesses of varying palettes are kidnapped by barbarians. So begins the quest. It’s a very a very simplistic story reminiscent of older days in video games.
Well then, how about I talk about the actual gameplay? Like I mentioned earlier, this is a Side-Scrolling Beat ‘Em Up with RPG elements. Hitting and defeating enemies earns experience which can be spent on either Strength, Defense, Magic, or Agility. It’s a very simple system but it makes for a really fun game. Coming up with what kind of “build” I’ll make for my next character has been on my mind a lot lately. The combat is very simple and the game can be played a variety of ways (brute force, slinging magic, ranged archery). Unfortunately for me, I ended up discovering that the experience system is based on the number of hits, so I eventually just did the same multi-hit combo for most of the game. However, I have also learned to play in a more “normal” style. Either style is pretty fun, though.
The game is pretty big. Sporting over 20 levels, ranging from the genric (a forest full of bad guys) to the ridiculous (escaping from said forest on a pooping deer). There’s also plenty of unlockables. Besides the 12 Achievements, there are different animal companions (which grant bonuses), a bunch of hidden playable characters, and a hell of a lot of weapons. Normally after a week or so, a game has most of its unlockables discovered. This is not the case for Castle Crashers. Along side the main game, is Arena mode, where various players can duke it out with their characters, and All You Quaff, a button smashing fest that will leave your fingers sore.
As for the multiplayer, this is where the game really shines. Alone the game is alright, but with friends the fun just skyrockets. Even with just one other person, the game becomes a lot more fun. All the game modes are playable over Xbox Live, but there are currently some issues with this which have scared me into not trying the online aspect until a patch arrives. However, I’m sure as soon as the problems are resolved, the multiplayer experince will be the best part of the game.
With throwbacks to other games (including a not-so-subtle reference to Double Dragon), fun gameplay, fantastic looks, great sounds, and enjoyable humor, Castle Crashers is a real gem for the Live Arcade. My only gripe, as of now, is that the Playstation Network and WiiWare are missing out on this game. Hopefully, there’s is nothing preventing The Behemoth from porting this game over to the PS3 and Wii in the future.