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by Ryan Davis on
Xbox Live Arcade's Endless Summer ends in disappointment.
Sadly, for all its considerable charm, Castle Crashers is riddled with bugs. Jeff and I experienced some of the game's well-known online problems firsthand when the game seized up just a few minutes into a co-op game. The real killer, though, is a bug that keeps the game from saving your progress when you play Castle Crashers on any Xbox 360 other than the one that you purchased it on. I learned about this the hard way when I turned on my office Xbox this morning to find that my level 26 red knight, complete with a bevy of unlocked weapons and animal orbs, had vanished into the ether.
Truly, nothing can sap one's appreciation for a game like having your progress destroyed, particularly when it's through no apparent fault of your own. I can recall with bitter clarity every time I've lost a game save, and even when it was in some way my own fault, it always leaves an indelible taint on the game itself. What makes the problems with Castle Crashers particularly heartbreaking is that I maintain a certain level of respect for the way the guys at The Behemoth carry themselves. Still, since it's their game, they're the most obvious target for blame. The release of Alien Hominid HD was also hampered by bugs, so they've got a less-than-stellar track record going in.
Then again, I ran into similar problems with Braid, which also had a nasty habit of destroying save games when loaded up on different consoles. Aside from being XBLA games, the only real similarity between these two games is that they're coming from very small, very independent developers, which leads me to wonder how much QA support, if any, Microsoft offers to developers. Sure, Capcom's got rooms full of dudes ready to bug-test the holy hot hell out of Bionic Commando Rearmed, but it's a slightly different scenario when you're a handful of dudes in a small office in San Diego. I guess that's part of the gamble with independent development--whether it's a smash-hit or a miserable failure, it all lands on that handful of dudes. Still, it's moments like this that I wish there was a little more transparency in the whole process of developing and publishing XBLA games.
I was planning on writing a review today, but having my progress zeroed out like that has unfortunately pushed back the timetable a bit. Were it not for these problems, I likely wouldn't have hesitated to recommend Castle Crashers, but right now I'm not sure what to think.