A Fresh and Fun Take on a classic genre
There are some games that get really repetitive; just the same thing over and over again, with very minimal effort to provide variety. Castle Crashers can certainly be one of those games at times. On the other hand, there are games that take a classic genre and add refreshing gameplay mechanics. Curiously, Castle Crashers is one of those games too.
At its core, Castle Crashers is a simple arcade-style beat-em-up, in the vein of Final Fight, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or my personal favorites in this genre, the Dungeons & Dragons series of arcade games. The plot is pretty straight forward: you are one of four knights with magical powers: Red for lightning, Blue for ice, Orange for fire, and Green for poison gas. The game opens up with a rockin’ medieval party, which is rudely interrupted by a dieing soldier and an evil wizard who proceeds to steal the King’s magical crystal and kidnap his four daughters. You promptly tear off in pursuit, chasing The Wizard and his henchmen over the course of many, many levels comprising around 5-8 hours of hack and slash gameplay.
Gameplay in this title should be pretty standard for anyone that’s played an action game in the last decade or so. Players move from level to level, beating up hordes of baddies that fall into one of three main categories, with a couple exceptions: random cannon-fodder infantry, roguish fast infantry that specialize in ranged combat, and big muscled infantry that hit like a freight train and take damage like an Abrams tank. Occasionally a boss breaks up the monotony with some challenge, but never anything terribly difficult. Shops and Arenas also exist as a means to acquire new weapons/pets/items/characters, but I never found myself needing to explore any of them beyond buying potions between missions. There is an experience system, complete with points to assign to stats, which have a huge impact on the game. By maxing out my Strength, I was able to down pretty much anything in the game in fairly short order.
However, while this game is fairly run of the mill, it does have some awesome features. The visual style that made the developer’s previous game, Alien Hominid, so endearing has returned in all its cell-shaded glory, and I have no problem with that. There is a heavy dose of humor in this title, and isn’t afraid to poke fun at itself or the industry at large on occasion. Unlike many jokes in video games, which frequently come off(to me anyway) as stale and lame, I found myself laughing out loud several times while playing this game. Multiplayer and the ability to play with 3 friends either on your couch or online adds a lot of replayability to a game that would otherwise be stale after one playthrough. The controls also perform quite well, I rarely found myself frustrated by response times or button combos misfiring.
In conclusion, Castle Crashers has some flaws, but they are made up for in spades by its amazing strengths. If you like to wade through hordes of enemies with your friends, or even if you just want a good laugh with your beat-em-up, then this is the game for you.
Experience with the game: Finished the Game