A guy I work with told me that I should download Castle Crashers, a side-scrolling beat ’em up that won 2008’s Best Game of the Year at the XBLA Awards. I took his advice, and I now see what all the fuss was about. Castle Crashers is reminiscent of older side-scrollers that, quite simply, were flat-out fun to play. There’s nothing innovative about Castle Crashers and the graphics, while pretty good, aren’t mind-blowing by any stretch. Castle Crashers just happens to be an addictive action game with just enough RPG elements to make it worth playing for hours on end. It’s pretty cool that in an age where games cost about $60, you can download Castle Crashers for 800 Microsoft Points (which comes to less that $12.50, I think) and have hours of enjoyable gaming. Read the full review after the jump.
When the game starts, you can pick one of four warriors, each with a different color (which means nothing) and a different magic power (which I imagine means a lot). I chose the green dude, whose magic is poison: hitting enemies with a green, gaseous cloud slowly drains their hit points, often to the point of them dropping dead. The other warriors use lighting, fire, or ice, but I have yet to play as another character. Your character can obtain a variety of weapons – such as clubs, swords, and staffs – and many of the weapons will increase some of your “powers.” The RPG elements in Castle Crashers are experience point, leveling up, and increased “powers:” strength, magic, defense, and agility. Naturally, the more enemies you kill, the more experience points you earn, and the more powerful your character becomes.
Levels are presented on a world map, and most levels can’t be played until you’re beaten prior levels. And, you can repeat prior levels, which is a great way to gain experience and power if a new level is giving you too much trouble. Certain levels have bosses, and there are various arenas placed on the world map in which you can do battle and potentially unlock other playable characters. There are shops for items, blacksmiths for weapon storage and upgrade, and animal companions that help your character in different ways, like attacking your enemies or raising your defense, for example.
Each level is very colorful and unique, as are the enemies and bosses. There’s a bit of cartoon humor to the game as well, but Castle Crashers definitely has its “mature” moments. Enemies can be decapitated in glorious fashion, with a fountain of blood spewing forth from their necks, and in one level, animals literally shit themselves in fear upon the arrival of that level’s boss. I mostly play Castle Crashers by myself – and I still have a ways to go in this game (which is a good thing) – but up to four players can battle at once. Not just against the enemies in the “story” mode, though; cooperative and online play lets you fight against your friends.
I wasn’t expecting too much from Castle Crashers, but lucky for me, I found an addictive action game that is challenging enough to keep me coming back for more. It’s a relatively cheap download, which means you get plenty of bang for your buck. If you’re a fan of side-scrolling beat ’em ups, I really can’t recommend Castle Crashers enough. Have fun with it, my friends.