SOMETIMES THE CASTLE DOES INDEED CRASH, BUT ITS STILL A FANTASTIC ARCADE GAMESo the eagerly anticipated new game from developers The Behemoth finally reached out XBOX 360's this week in Microsofts Summer of Arcade games. This LIVE Arcade game as been on the lips of many a gamer and its great to finally get our hands on this old school styled game. In many respects Castle Crashers does indeed go old school, for us folks who love their games its clear that The Behemoth drew from many classic games of old. Castle Crashers features a fantastic looking 2D art Style that keeps to the tradition of their first forray into game making with the superb Alien Hominid. The art style is all down to the superb work of Dan Paladin who as become reknowned for creating a number of stunning games on both console and PC in the form of flash games. Castle Crashers is no different, theres a lot of humour in this game and its everywhere. Sometimes it'll pop out of nowhere when you least expect it and the game deserves great credit for being as funny as it is. The game defiantly aims more towards groups(4) of gamers, but before I go into co-op I just wanted to state that this game doesn't require 4 players to have a blast with, infact at moments I'd even say playing the game single player is as much fun as its still the exact same gameplay that you find in co-op. Its just that you need to be more cauitious and understand that healing potion is your best friend. As you play one of the four characters you will build that knight up through levels, each level offers two experience points which can be spent on Attack, Defense, Magic and Agility. Attack and Defense are easy to understand, as is magic. Agility allows you to jump higher and also shoot your little bow a little further then before. As you also gain levels new combos appear that allow you to do some ace looking mid air Devil May Cry styled attacks. Each character is of his own, there are four all together. Red, Blue, Orange and Green. Each as a different magical power. You also level them up seperately, for instance I have mostly been leveling with the Red Knight so I now have him a much higher level with better attacks and better equipment on hand to do more damage. You can also play as extra characters from the main campaign, which is also a nice little touch and keeps you playing, though I have found no reason to stop playing yet.
The game sees you saving princesses, its a basic storyline but Castle Crashers isn't about the actual storyline, its all about the gameplay. In which it does a fantastic job for the most part. Combat feels great and the artistic animated style looks fantastic. When your surrounded by endlessly enemies fighting with everything, slashing and cutting you get that excitment feeling you use to get back in the days of the NES and thats what Castle Crashers does best. It is a great tribute to the classic games of old, and shows that these types of games still work today, they just need to have that somthing special rather then being another genetic mess. There are Numourous weapons for your knight to use, with different hit points and many will often increase or decrease specific stats of your Knight. For instance the heavier weapons will decrease your agility but may offer 2 + damage dealing. This as of course been seen in games before but its still a feature that works great in Castle Crashers and shows that the game as surprising more depth then you'd expect. Co-op is defiantly where a lot of fun is in this game, though I haven't had a great experience with it at all. For some odd reason the game seems to enjoy crashing at odd times in co-op and theres a number of bugs within the game. Some of these bugs are small, while some do destroy your enjoyment of the game overall. Which is disapointing considering what a great game it is and I can't help feel that it affects my score of the game in a big way. I have noticed some weird bugs such as totally getting stuck behind an object on the map to the game even freezing, requiring me to restart my console. Strangely when playing the campaign with a single knight I have come across very few problems and had a great experience. But considering this game is advertising itself on 4 player co-op fun, then to not have it run perfect is disappointing, also considering some fo the delays the game as had through development. It is a bit of a letdown when you consider the bugs, but there is still a lot here to make the purchase of Castle Crashers worthy of your Microsoft points with or without the bugs, but it may be a good idea to wait a few weeks till a patch as been released if your cautious about spending your 1,200 MS Points on it till its been all fixed up.
Castle Crashers is leveled base as you chase and rescue the Princesses, the game uses a map system similar to those of Super Mario games and theres also shops scattered around the map which allow you to purchase new weapons, healing potion, bombs and even more. The game also features some cool Arenas for you to develop your Knight and just have some mindless killing fun, and thats what Castle Crashers does best. Mindless sword swinging fun that is hard not to love. The game also features a great soundtrack, with some fantastic almost happy go lucky tunes that you can't help but kind of fall in love with and suit the games artisitic style fantastically. Castle Crashers is mindless fun, but does have some depth to it that would make some of those classic NES games proud and it clearly shows that such games are still deeply loved by gamers who don't require deep storylines or over the top graphics to have a lot of fun. The Behemoth have met the expectation that Alien Hominid set for Castle Crashers, and despite some of the simply frustrating bugs the game seems to currently have, you can't help but fall in love with whats generally on offer here. When you consider some of the great games currently avaliable on XBOX LIVE Arcade your spoiled for choice when it comes to quality, and to stand out from the crowd you need to do something or have something that very few if any games have. For the most part Castle Crashers does everything it should do, and I can't help to battle in my mind over what score this game deserves because as much as I love Castle Crashers. The bugs surrounding mainly co-op ae simply down to poor final testing of the game and I shouldn't remove that from my score just because I am really enjoying whats on offer here. Such bugs are always going to end up spoiling a gamers fun and I'll be brutally honest when I say that co-op lost much of its appeal to me after the problems I had with the game. But then again I just start playing and the music kicks in, I suddenly forget about the games bugs and throughally enjoy my time with Castle Crashers, a game that almost reaches Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 for overall addiction and fun. But as a honest English Gentleman and a honest reviewer I feel its only right that I critise Castle Crashers for the bugs currently inflcting The Behemoths newest project. As you can see my head is currently spinning on my final thoughts about this great game. I'm confident is will sell well on the Arcade if Bionic Commando: Rearmed is anything to go by and I do hope it does because its clear from playing that The Behemoth put in so much sweat and possibly ''blood'' into this game and for that it deserves at least a trial look at by my fellow gamers.
OVERALL!The Behemoth have done it again, even despite its bugs Castle Crashers as surpassed its younger brother in Alien Hominid. Some of the best artistic stylings around, fantastic addicted gameplay that offers a surprisingly amount of depth and some trully happy tunes makes Castle Crashers one of those Arcade games that MUST be in your collection. You just may want to wait a week or so until the bugs have been removed though.
GRAPHICS (5/5)Castle Crashers features more fantastic work from Dan Paladin, and its clear that everything in the world as been painfully drawn to perfection. Everything as a honest feel to it and its just a absolute pleasure to play in this world The Behemoth have created. Some fantastic humorous artistic touches are found throughout the game and will give you a good laugh or two. Theres simply no artistic style like it anywhere.
GAMEPLAY (4/5)I'll be honest here, Castle Crashers would have easily have gotten a 5/5 if it weren't for some of the painful bugs currently affecting the game. Castle Crashers plays great with a nice control scheme that is easy to pick up to play, but offers depth that if your willing to search for will reward you greatly. Plus those mid air Devil May Cry Styled attacks across the screen look way to good not to consider. Its just sad the bugs in co-op affect it so badly.
SOUND (5/5)The game features a fantastically done soundtrack with some great happy go lucky tunes that you can't help but not fall in love with. They also suit the general artistic styling of the game aswell. Sound affects are solid and there are some nice touches to be found if you hear hard enough. It does more then a solid job and will please any music loving gamer.
VALUE (4/5)Value wise, Castle Crashers needs to be compared with the also recently released Bionic Commando: Rearmed which sold for 800 MS Points and in general gameplay modes on offer simply offered more. Castle Crashers sells for 1,200 MS Points at the moment and for the most part is value for money. Though its hard not to compare it with Bionic Commando: Rearmed, but when you consider the hard work clearly put in the artistic style alone you do forget the price a little and theres defiantly many less impressive games on offer which are selling for the exact same price. So its all up to the individual gamer I guess.
Castle Crashers (XBOX LIVE Arcade) gets 4 Stars out of 5.
Reviewed by Joseph Bayliss (SaitenMar)