Giant Bomb Review

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Castle Crashers Review

4
  • XBGS

Technical hiccups can't keep The Behemoth from sieging my heart!

I'm not even going to try and explain what's going on here.
While there will always be plenty of room in video games for nostalgia, creating something brand-new that tickles those same sense-memories is a challenging proposition. There's plenty of familiar stuff in The Behemoth's Castle Crashers, a game that owes as much to Gauntlet as it does to Final Fight, but it works because it doesn't lean on lazy “hey, remember?” references. Instead of pandering with faux-8-bit graphics and repetitive button-mashing gameplay, Castle Crashers delivers an art style that is crude and playful in its own way, and button-mashing gameplay that rewards progress and evolves just enough to keep you engaged. The only things really holding Castle Crashers back are some unfortunate technical problems, but they're not enough to entirely suppress the game's gleeful abandon for both hacking and slashing.

The setup is straightforward enough, with players taking on the role of one of four Crayola-colored knights slicing their way through armies of goblins, demons, skeletons, and the occasional screen-filling boss monster to recover a bunch of princesses and a gigantic magical stone from an evil wizard. What keeps it all from being some tired-ass Dungeons & Dragons knock-off is the colorful art of The Behemoth's Dan Paladin and an absurd and unapologetically puerile sense of humor. Oversized treasure chests fall from the sky accompanied by cheesy techno, terrified deer rocket across the screen from the sheer force of their uncontrollable bowel movements, and when little yellow aliens show up halfway through the game, it's pleasantly unsurprising. The ending alone, which reminded me of Amped 3 in a free-association kind of way, is worth playing through the game to see.

As much theoretical fondness as there is for old-school beat-'em-ups, there's a reason those games fell out of favor--hitting one button for hours on end is straight-up boring. There's an inherent repetition to Castle Crashers, but the game mitigates this problem in a number of clever ways. In addition to the two basic attack buttons that can be strung together into multi-hit combos, each knight has its own elemental magic attack to blast enemies with. Figuring out the right attacks for the different enemies keeps things interesting, and you can do lots of crazy air-juggle moves which, when executed correctly, allow you to take out a number of enemies without touching the ground.

Though you can carry up to five health potions, the game only allows you one life per level, and there are definitely encounters that you'll be lucky to walk away from on your first try. While this could've been a recipe for massive frustration, there's a light RPG element that balances out the difficulty, rewarding you with new attacks and the ability to customize the strength, magic, defense, and agility of your knight. You can also revisit levels that you've already played, so if you're having trouble getting through a certain section, you can fall back and grind a few levels out on an earlier stage.

Color Me Badd.
You'll find weapons on enemies and in stores that confer various combat bonuses, as well as animal orbs--essentially plushy animals whose effects range from increasing how fast you gain experience to helping you find secret items in the environment. Their effect on the actual gameplay isn't overly obvious, but I really appreciate the way they just indifferently float along behind you as you wreak mayhem. These features let the game go on for longer than you might expect from an arcade-style game like this, and it took me a good five or six hours to get to the end credits.

Any progress you make works seamlessly between the single- and multiplayer modes in Castle Crashers, though unfortunately, the online mode barely works at all, with rampant disconnects being a major problem. I also found that when playing with the full four players, Castle Crashers can be a bit too chaotic for its own good, and it ended up obscuring much of the complexity I enjoyed in the single-player game. The multiplayer isn't inherently bad, but I definitely found there to be diminishing returns as more players were added.

There's also a well-known bug in Castle Crashers that can annihilate any of your character progress, something I experienced firsthand. The Behemoth has stated that a title update is forthcoming, though a date hasn't yet been given, so until then, buyer beware. Despite these problems, and the game's higher-than-average $15 price tag, I thoroughly enjoyed Castle Crashers, though they also keep me from recommending the game as wholeheartedly as I'd like to.
55 Comments
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Posted by deaux

Does that bug show up only when switching consoles, or at other times too?

Thanks for the review -- one more thing I need when I finally get home to my xbox.
Posted by Anonymous

I just started playing Castle Crashers today, and it's a superb game.

Posted by MetalGearSunny

LMAO at Ryan's icon.

Posted by MasterSplinter

I have to pick up some more space bucks for this one. The demo was fantastic, but the bugs are what were preventing me from purchasing it. I simply cannot wait any longer to get it.

Posted by bucky

my game never crashed, and i loved it.

Posted by Ontheocho
Posted by Chocobo_Blitzer

The entire reason I would buy this would be for the online co-op. Buggy co-op? Forget it. It's too bad, really.

Posted by Milkman

I might have to get this soon. Does this icon mean that we will be getting different icons for each score? Like this happy Ryan for 4, indifferent Ryan for 3 and angry Ryan for 1?

Posted by cspiffo

It's a shame.  This game should have gotten 5 stars but bugs keep it from that honor.  With that being said, I must also say that the single player mission alone is a reason to buy this game.  Heck!  I would have paid $20 or $30 for it.  The game is a real steal.  Your missing out if you decide to wait for the bug fixes for the multiplayer.

Posted by Torb

Yea the game is pretty awesome. The online disconnects aren't exactly rampant, but when they do happen they don't let up and it's entirely too frustrating. It's a great game all around. I hate hack and slashers but I LOVE this game. The co-op only bugs out at certain times of the day it seems, as if it has something to do with server overload. who knows?

Posted by OneManFreakShow

Deaux: Nope, it's completely random. Last night I was playing online (Someone invited me. The weird bug has prevented me from actually finding any match at all), and got the best weapon from someone. I wasn't at the level to use it yet, but this morning I leveled up to 20 (I'm 31 now. This morning when I first played I was a 5.), went to go get it, and it was gone. Then I went to the Ark, and all of my animal orbs were gone. :(

Posted by Lepuke

This game is so great!
If you find the bugs messing up your online experience, then just pass some spare time leveling up characters in single player mode or the offline co-op until the patch arrives.

Posted by Carlos

Game is great, get it now!! could easily be of higher value ;D

Posted by Gregomasta

I agree with 4 stars because of the that terrible bug.  Like always good review.

Posted by Arkthemaniac

I love your happy graphic, Ryan. Absolutely hilarious.

Posted by CharleyTony

awesome game ... 4/5 is truly what it deserves right now, in its current state. But when they fix the saving and online issues, that game will be one of the best games on XBLM, one of the best downloadable games period. Level up offline before the patch rolls out...

Posted by eduardo

That Ryan icon cracked me up! :)

Posted by RHCPfan24

4 is a good review right now.  It is a great game with some unfortunate problems.  Great review Ryan

Posted by Player1

Great Review. I agree with the 4 stars. The game is still a ton of fun, though the glitches are very unfortunate. I got the online to work with a buddy today though. Wow is it soo much better. 

Posted by mennio

how do I see the video review?

Posted by ImperiousRix

This is definitely gonna be one of the games I get as soon as my 360 is fixed.

Posted by ScrapMetalHead

   I think it's somewhat fair to give the current state of the game a 4. My issue is that when the patch comes out ( Behemoth guys have already talked to MS about it and had good news) the game would've gotten the 5/5 it deserves. However we can't go back and change reviews. So I don't think its fair because when the patch fixes these things the game will still have it's 4/5 rating. My point is, is that if things would've been held off, till the patch it would be 5/5. I'm sort of confused because one part of me says the review is fair for it's current state, yet another says it's not because a patch is on the way, plus it's not like everyone has had these glitches happen to them, like myself, and I've ALWAYS been able to get in a game with my friends no problem. So when people complain about the online I don't grasp it since I've never had this problem. I should note that I only play with my friends online so maybe that's the reason, but really shouldn't you be playing this kind of game with friends to begin with?

   So that makes me ask, had these issues not happened to the reviewer would the score be different? This is just my opinion but yes, since one of the most annoying things to happen to a player in a game is to lose all of you data, or a mode that doesn't function like it should. I remember I once got to the end of Banjo-Kazooie and for whatever reason I lost my data and had to start over, you can bet I did not have good things to say about the game then and had I conveyed my frustrations in a review the score would've been been lowered because of the misfortunes and that's not fair.

   I don't know, this whole thing is bitter-sweet to me, it's not like Ryan gave it a 2, I'm sure others would have who have experienced the same misfortunes. I just I can't help but feel that when there's a patch on the way to fix things and that others like myself have not had ANY problems with the game, that this isn't fair when games such as Braid get 5/5 when it does not nearly feel as complete as a overall package as Castle Crashers. I'm sure there are some that will say "Well see Braid did not come out all buggy and had no problems" well maybe so, but those problems seems to happen to some people and not all, so just because those problems happen to some people the game instantly gets credibility taken from it? Aside from that point how much replayability does Braid have once you have found all the stars and completed the puzzles? None really, unless you like to keep solving puzzles you already know, your basically done with the game. At least Castle Crashers has more replayability to it, let alone for a brawler type game. Shouldn't replaybility be a factor in the rating of a game? I guess I'm lucky I have had no problems with the game.

   Hopefully I don't come off like I hate Ryan or his criticism, in fact I think the review was actually very accurate it's just I feel that had these problems not befallen Ryan, maybe the review outlook would have been different or if the review would have been waited on after the patch. Like I said I somewhat agree with 4/5 in the current state but there are a few factors that make me a little unsure what to think of it. I don't know. I am sure that I've written a bit too much for a comments spot but something about this made me want to voice my opinion, even if it is meaningless at this point. At least I bothered to say something rather than just sit here and bitch without giving any fair or decent reasons. Doesn't make a bit of difference, but thats simply my 2 cents of the hour.

Posted by TheWorstPlayerEver

I freakin' love this game. I personally would give it 5/5 but I can see why you would give it 4/5 because of the technical issues that you seemed to face. Luckily, I haven't experienced any of the afformentioned issues yet. *knock on wood*

Posted by Rio

I never had any issues getting the game to work.  Im glad Ryan sort of set that aside to give it a proper review, completely agree with the review.  Keep up the great work guys.

Posted by toadstule

Nice review, I recently beat the game and it was definately worth my $15. Especially since I plan on playing it again and again. BTW, saw you guys [giantbomb squad] at PAX, hilarious and awesome panel.

Posted by Drebin_893

Ahh, the drawings of emotions they were talking about before the site launched are here.
Best. Picture. Ever.

Posted by KingOfIceland

 I love this damn game. Luckily I've managed to avoid all those  technical problems so I give it a 5/5

Posted by koopi

I've never had any problems with stats being deleted, but I've had some system crashes, because of some online matches.

With that said, I think it's the best game on XBLA. It's soooo funny. I really like Dan Paladin's art style. I've never laughed so much about a video game before! Cute animals, and really funny animations. :)

Posted by zityz

Yea, it's an amazing game, it reminds me of river city ransom with swords and crude but fun humor.

Also, Ryan, your funny pic looks like something out of Duckman.

Posted by AimingWandersly

ryan, your new pic looks like wallace from wallace and gromit when he says 'cheeeeeeeeeeeeese'. i will forever link you with that memory now. but it's up to you to figure out if that's a good thing or not...

Posted by bombHills

I have been loving castle crashers and haven't had any problems with my save.... yet.  I did have problems getting into a match with a friend tho

Posted by Soliduma

The game is definately superb, the rt is really nice and good with the eyes and a pretty decent brawler.
A good package in the XBLA situation of crappy brawlers (Double Dragon looked like crap on the 360! The old school was alright)

Posted by Dragon

Awesome review, that game is great.

I loved the 4-player mode though, doesn't seem as chaotic as ryan purports it to be

worth the points neverthelless

Posted by mrsmiley

Hey Ryan, a quick FYI that the Behemoth has updated their dev blog explaining that fixes are in the works! Woot!

http://devblog.thebehemoth.com/?p=326

Posted by PLWolf

I'll be waiting for this to drop in price. It looks like a lot of fun, but there's just too many bugs to drop $15 on.

Posted by MindChamber

Great review, shame about the multiplayer.  Ironically if Behemoth ditched MP altogether,  and gave us some lame excuse. (remember VF4 couldnt be online because it was frame specific?)  They couldve walked away without any headaches and get perfect scores down the board.

This is like a 5 man company, and they TACKLED 4 PLAYER MP!! you know how insane that is?  Namco and Capcom didnt even bother with Bionic comando and  Geomtry Wars2. Its not because they can't its because they didnt wanted to be bothered with the headaches.  The network guy.. (THATS RIGHT GUY, NOT GUYS)  deserves a nod for even trying.
Posted by ManMadeGod

Good review; I really think I might buy this game now.
Maybe I'll just wait for the patch.

Posted by Jigen

I think the game really deserved full marks.

Personally I've played with friends (with their own 360s and copies of the game), both locally and over Live and I've had flawless play, playing with strangers online was pretty bad sometimes though.  However, I'm sure these guys are going to be fixing the problems soon enough.

Ignoring the technical issues, the game is the best brawler I've ever played, way more meaty than any other (and I've played a good portion of them), and of course it's a steal at $15 in that way.

Posted by Bombzilla

Ryan, I am glad that you gave this game 4 stars.  I have it and have played a great deal of it.  It is tremendous fun.  This is a suprisingly fun little hack-n-slash.p.g, even if it is somewhat marred by it's ability to eat your save.  Local multiplayer is a blast.  I hope they patch it up.  IF so, would you amend your review?

Posted by YoungBuck

I didn't enjoy the demo, so i'll pass.

Posted by Sin4profit

Great game, love it...play it all the time, currently trying to find all the weapons and animal orbs and tryin to unlock new characters with multi-playthrougths.

Also the review doesn't mention the other mini game component, that eating game, and fer good reason; who the hell cares. would have been nice if that part of the game factored into the single player in some way - win gold for winning the eating contest or something like that.

Anyway, highly recommend this game for the current price, it's well worth it. I don't think you really need to worry about waiting for the patch too much unless your sole purpose is to play this online.

Posted by dabada

I really love Castle Crashers. It reminds me of one of my favorite beat-um-ups of all time, Guardian Heroes on the Sega Saturn.

There is a fix to the save loss that I found in the Giantbomb forums, here. It seems that sometimes the game won't load your save if you are already logged into your account when you start the game. However, if you load your profile while you are already in the game, then it will work. I realize that this simply a workaround, but it certainly lessens the severity of the bug.

Posted by Light_Geiger

other than disconnects-no save problems here!

great game worth the money!

Posted by Sekoku

Games a 3 at best. Mostly because they charge $15 for a weeks worth of Flash-style funplay. :/

Posted by tancred8120

This game is the bomb

Posted by Vagrant

Great game, though you're right about 4 player being chaotic! 3 seems to be the best amount, enough to keep it fun and social without losing track of yourself on screen.

Posted by MindChamber

"Games a 3 at best. Mostly because they charge $15 for a weeks worth of Flash-style funplay. :/"

gottta Lol at people who know shit about nothin'
Posted by SolidSaladin

Great game.  I still haven't experienced any of the 'bugs' and 'hiccups' that were mentioned though.  *knocks on wood*

Posted by Fleppie

Came home from vacation and immediately bought this and geometry wars 2 and man is it AWESOME! The da part, My hard drive is full and I can't download Re-armed or Braid. :( Gotta go lay down some big cash for the 120 gig drive

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