Published on August 4th, 2014 | by octaneblue1
Review: Castle Crashers
Developer(s): The Behemoth
Publisher: The Behemoth, Microsoft Game Studios (Xbox 360), Sony Computer Entertainment (PlayStation 3) Platform(s): Xbox 360 (Xbox LIVE Arcade), PlayStation 3 (PlayStation Network), PC/Mac (Steam)
Release Date(s): August 27, 2008 (Xbox LIVE Arcade), August 31, 2010 (PlayStation Network), Septeber 26, 2012 (Steam)
There are plenty of beat-’em-up titles on both the PlayStation Network and Xbox LIVE Arcade. But the best one out of all of them could quite possibly be Castle Crashers from The Behemoth. This beat-’em-up features a large roster of playable characters, a RPG-like leveling system, plenty of weapons, online multiplayer, lots of humor, and, most importantly, it’s a ton of fun. Read on for the full review of Castle Crashers!
The gameplay of Castle Crashers is actually quite simple to learn, and it’s easy for anyone to get into the game and start beating up baddies. All characters initially begin with very simple combos and magic spells, but as you level up, you’ll gain new combos and magic powers to use. There is a huge character roster in this game, and nearly all of the characters play differently, especially when it comes to magic spells. In this game, XP that each character earns works a bit differently; instead of gaining XP when you defeat enemies, you gain a little XP for each successful hit landed on opponents. When you manage to level your character up, you’ll be able to increase at least two of the stats of your choice (attack, defense, magic, agility).
Customization is a fairly large part of Castle Crashers. In addition to altering your character’s stats, you can also find several weapons scattered around each of the game’s levels. The default characters start out with a basic weapon, but you’ll find more weapons in the levels generally add a bit of power to a stat or two while possibly lowering another stat as well. Finding the best weapon for you is a fun process, and the weapons themselves can be quite clever. In addition to the standard swords, hammers, blades, and so forth, there are some pretty crazy ones like a fish, a lobster, a stick of broccoli, and a lollipop. Weapons are sometimes dropped by enemies or found in treasure chests, while others are hidden in really obscure spots in stages. Item shops on the map screen allow you to purchase helpful items such as potions that restore your health, as well as other weapons and other equipment.
Another degree of customization is available in the game too: Animal Orbs. These cute, generally round floating animals follow your character around the levels, and each one has a special power. Some have offensive abilities, some alter your stats, while others can help find hidden items. Examples of Animal Orbs include Rammy the ram, who headbutts nearby enemies for you; Giraffey the giraffe, who increases the amount of XP you earn; and the Cardinal, who will wander off in specific areas to bring you special weapons. You can have one accompany you, while the other collected Animal Orbs are stored in a farm area, which is where you can swap between them before each level.
Castle Crashers can be played solo or in co-op with up to three others in offline and online multiplayer modes. Online multiplayer is surprisingly smooth, with very little to no lag during gameplay, even when there’s a large amount of characters on-screen simultaneously. However, in my experience, there have been a few errors with connecting to friends, and a few random disconnects have occurred as well. But, for the most part, the online multiplayer mode of Castle Crashers is very solid overall. The extremely entertaining multiplayer is the strong point of Castle Crashers. However, you can play through the game solo if you’d like, but it’s not as much fun and, not surprisingly, it’s rather difficult to go through the game alone; the game is not scaled between solo and multiplayer modes, so if you do go through the adventure alone, expect to be overwhelmed with enemies in some of the later levels.
The graphics of the game are very nice, featuring hand-drawn, cartoon-like visuals illustrated by Dan Paladin. Characters are well animated and the environments are very detailed. There are some surprising amounts of gore, too, but the violence is handled in a very comedic fashion. For instance, you can chop the heads off of enemies, but you can continue to beat down the headless body if you’re in the middle of a combo. It’s all silly, but pretty goofy as well. The only complaint I have about the graphics is that there are some rather unnecessary structures or obstacles that end up covering the gameplay. There aren’t too many of these in the game, but when they get in the way, it covers up most of the action, and it’s rather annoying to see.
The music of the game is also fantastic, with contributions from various artists from Newgrounds. There are plenty of catchy tunes that will get stuck in your head even when you’re not playing the game, and a lot of the tracks fit the backgrounds really well. There’s a bit of voice acting, too; not much, but what’s there is effective. The only flaw with the game’s audio is that some of the tracks are very short, and when they end up looping, there’s a brief pause before the track plays again. It’s actually really noticeable, even during moments with chaotic gameplay. This is mostly a small problem, but one that I thought was worth mentioning.
Castle Crashers offers a huge amount of replay value. The main campaign isn’t too lengthy, taking about 3-4 hours total to go through all of the levels. However, the sheer amount of hidden weapons, Animal Orbs, and unlockable characters provide more incentive to play through the game multiple times. Several characters are unlocked by clearing all of the levels as another certain character. On top of that, playing through the game as an unlocked character usually unlocks yet another new character. Obviously there’s plenty to do in the game. Additionally, beating the game the first time unlocks the challenging Insane Mode, featuring a more difficult version of the adventure. This mode actually has its own set of unlockables as well.
The PlayStation 3 and Steam versions of Castle Crashers have a number of differences from the original version found on the Xbox 360. While the core gameplay is unchanged, some of the DLC from the Xbox 360 version is instead found in-game in the PS3/Steam versions; they just have to be unlocked instead of bought. DLC offered for the PS3/Steam versions include the Pink Knight Pack DLC (includes the Pink Knight character and new weapons), Legend of the Blacksmith Pack DLC, (includes the Blacksmith character and new weapons), and the Can’t Stop Crying Pack DLC (includes the Hatty Hattington character, new weapons, and the Golden Whale Animal Orb). In addition, the “All You Can Quaff” mini-game on the Xbox 360 version has been completely replaced by a Volleyball mini-game. There’s also a Team Arena (PVP) mode included as well.
Castle Crashers is a must own for any fans of the beat-’em-up genre. With fun gameplay, online multiplayer, plenty of charm, and a vast amount of replay value, you’ll be hooked on this one for quite a while.
+ Extremely fun multiplayer
+ Large amount of replay value
+ Plenty of characters and customization options
– Some online multiplayer issues
– Some audio issues
Final Score: 4.5 out of 5