Being a long-time fan of classic brawlers like Streets of Rage, Double Dragon, and Guardian Heroes, Iâ€™ve been looking forward to Castle Crashers for quite a while now. And if youâ€™re also a fan of the aforementioned games (well done!), youâ€™ll no doubt be interested in hearing whether itâ€™s worth going gaga over.
Let me put it this way: this is the game youâ€™ve been waiting for.
Castle Crashers updates the side-scrolling beat â€˜em up genre while retaining what made it so awesome, and adds generous dollops of humour, originality, and sheer fun into the mix. Itâ€™s not perfect, but itâ€™s a shining example of multiplayer mayhem that will keep you and your mates entertained for hours.
If youâ€™re a bit young to remember the good old days of 2D beat â€˜em ups, Castle Crashers is essentially a button mashing action game. You traverse from left to right, and along the way slash at countless enemies of various shapes and sizes. Every so often the action is punctuated by boss battles or other scenarios, and then itâ€™s on to the next level.
This kind of gameplay can get repetitive very, very quickly if the developer isnâ€™t careful â€“ so itâ€™s to the credit of Behemoth that Castle Crashers is so much fun from start to finish. The core gameplay itself is relatively basic â€“ you can jump, perform light and heavy attacks, use items, cast a magic spell, and block. Youâ€™ll use all these abilities to dispatch the hordes of enemies that fill the screens. But things stay fresh thanks to the sheer variety of enemy types and environments youâ€™ll come across. One moment youâ€™ll be slicing through a crowded battlefield, only to suddenly find yourself frantically swimming down a river, or riding a deer with diarrhea (donâ€™t ask) away from a giant monster. Just as you might be thinking that things are getting a bit boring, the game almost always throws you a curveball to keep you on your feet.
This gameplay is complimented by a great sense of humour and an extremely polished and fun art style that looks amazing in high def. The cartoonish visuals really help bring the game to life, and the myriad of animations keep you well entertained in between the slaughterfests. They are in turn backed up by a great soundtrack, and appropriately battle-like sound effects.
The game is also relatively deep. While its running time isnâ€™t overly long, the huge amount of unlockable characters and items encourage you to play through the adventure a few times. If youâ€™re tired of the main story, you can enter a simple arena mode, where you simply have to either beat up on the enemy, or each other.
Speaking of which: if you donâ€™t have any friends, donâ€™t bother buying Castle Crashers. Itâ€™s relatively fun all on your own, but you need three other people by your side to get the most fun out of this one. The online code isnâ€™t the best, and coupled with New Zealandâ€™s wonderful broadband situation, I firmly recommend getting some mates over. And if youâ€™re of age, add some beer into the mixâ€¦
Overall, Castle Crashers is well worth your money, and is certainly one of the better titles on Xbox Live (one of the others being Braid). If you want a co-operative multiplayer game that will keep you hooked for hours, this is the one for you. And even if youâ€™re not too sure, download the demo now - itâ€™s well worth a look in.