I'll start right off the bat by telling you that I have wanted Castle Crashers to release since the studio (Behemoth) was conceived. However fantastic Alien Hominid was... it never quite tickled my fancy, but I knew that Dan Paladin, one of the single greatest digital artists that has ever lived, and Tom Fulp, one of the single greatest programmers that has ever lived, could make a gigantic leap from a decent game to an amazing one.
Then came the announcement for Castle Crashers.
Across Newgrounds, Fulp's website for budding flash artists and programmers, there was this feeling of awesome. That feeling where you know something is going to happen that will blow your mind and rock your socks off.
I purchased Castle Crashers a small while after it's release, and now I'd like to put my two cents into this mixing pot of gamers. I hope you enjoy the review as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Just so it isn't misleading, only one person can be each character but any player can be any character.
Castle Crashers is basically what you get when you cross Turtles in Time, Gauntlet, River City Ransom, and just about every other fantastic beat'em up you've seen, together.
There's a neat image at this link, sadly the size was a tad big for the forum, so I'll just link you to it.http://www.counteragent.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/castle_crashers_4_player_coop1.jpg
^^^ Yep... that's about right gameplay wise: If you get the joke, get the game.
The default characters are 4 knights ("Castle Crashers") that go on an epic quest to save the four maidens of their home Castle. With 4 player co-operational play not just online, but locally, this game creates an atmosphere unlike one ever made by the genre.PRESENTATION:
Castle Crashers has a very slick presentation, with pretty menus and funky waiting tunes to short load times. The entire Heads Up Display doesn't block the gameplay, and the character selection screen looks exactly like Gauntlet (So basically really sweet) The map system runs like Super Mario World, and normally cumbersome tasks like shopping, and rummaging through old items, are completely handled in-game and not in shoddy menus with confusing controls. Also, as I may mention later, the skill point allocation is extremely well sewn into the experience.
Old menu build, but its mostly the same as the new one
However, I will sadly Admit: The online mode is having a TON of server-side issues, lagging out of games is way too common and the game sometimes gets stuck in a transition menu when you try to join a match or party. Along with that, (I'm not so positive this should go here but oh well..) the game sometimes gets stuck in an area, and the camera won't pan even though all the enemies have been defeated.
And so: The game works really well, and you'll never have to complain about load times.... EVER!GRAPHICS AND SOUND:
Graphics: Dan Paladin is a beastly artist. I'm not positive that he drew every single thing, but the game wreaks of and drips his style. It's fantastical, colorful, and not pixel-y like a lot of Xbox 360 games with terrible aliasing.
Every single character, enemy, weapon, menu, and background looks incredibly detailed and unique. I seriously sit there staring at the screen sometimes thinking "Wow, I have absolutely no idea how they came up with this."
And just so you know it's unique (Spoiler?): one of the boss fights includes a dragon and a giant sock puppet.
However: Everything in the game is 2D, oh what a shame.... NOT!!!
*GASP, the shading is beautiful! Oh, and there's some blood, which is pretty common in the world of Castle Crashers
Sound: Let me first say to anyone that owns the game, the music for forest entrance is absolutely the greatest thing ever, ci? Anyway, that's basically how I would go about describing the music and sound effects to you. It's absolutely stunning how awesome the soundtrack is, and there's a huge multitude of sound effects that all sound crystal clear and perfectly fit their uses. The tunes are really inspiring and leave not a single thing to be desired.GAMEPLAY:
The player starts each level facing to the right, which is basically where they'll be going for the next few minutes. Moving is mostly simple, with the left stick for moving your character left and right, as well as up and down on the 3 dimensional plane. Jumping is handled by the A button, and light/heavy attacks are mapped to X/Y respectively. Magic can be used by holding the R trigger and using the attack buttons while L will "Block the baddies." Right bumper and left bumper are used to sift through extra items and the B button activates the item that is currently chosen.
Castle Crashers is your basic beat' em up in this sense. Ultimately, you're going to be running in a single direction and tapping all the attack buttons like mad to use combos on incoming hordes of peons. However, as you play it more, the usually mundane gameplay will grow on you. A lot. This game is seriously for the hardcore gamer, the one that picked up a Nintendo, threw in River City Ransom, and beat the pulp out of angry men for chump change. That's basically the game in a nutshell. You just kill as much as you possibly can and when you're done killing you move over a bit and start killing some more.
The game throws tons of baddies at the players and they come in small packs. Mostly, you'll be seeing groups of 3-4 in single player, but as more players are added to the experience, the enemy party size will grow very large. There are small units, buff units, mounted units, and the like. This game has it's bag full of mages, melee grunts, tough guys that throw you at your friends, people riding demented yoshis and camels, archers, all kinds of fun stuff.
The stats of a player have an extremely large effect on how they perform in battle. Point distribution is done by way of a quick and well polished menu that automatically opens after a level is completed and a player has gained a skill point. Full Levels-Ups come by pretty often near the beginning of the game and then level out near the end, like every RPG you've ever played.
Weapons: I seriously think this should go in Gameplay, so here goes: This games weapon load out is absolutely insane. There are light sabers, swords, axes, bows, boomerangs, fishing rods, mince mallets.. it's just ridiculous. However, most weapons actually perform exactly the same, and only offer different stat boosts, which may disappoint.
"Go get' em Summer2008OMG
Multiplayer: Co-op on one console and online or both make this game great, arena battles are mostly interesting but the whole munching mini-game is awfully dry, but it's just an extra (And it's cute).
So to sum it up: You slice and dice everything in your path, oh and all 20 or so bosses are extremely fun to fight.LASTING APPEAL:
Bulk: There are quite a few shops to spend money in within the world of Castle Crashers, so your constant rampage of death won't be in vain (Yeah, I know, save the princess, but it's all about the violence). Anyhow, there's a very large cache of weapons to be collected, at least over 20, and around 20 characters which are actually pretty challenging to unlock. Add to that the insanely high level cap (99 I think) and the fact that playing the whole game through with a friend that's never played it before is incredibly fun, and you're basically set to (re)play through the entire campaign as many times as you want without any loss of success. In other words, you're going to have a tough time unlocking and beating everything.
In case I didn't say it already, all 20 characters can be leveled up separately, and since they all have different magics and quirky little graphics, it's fun to beat the game with a new character. Every single time.
However: The campaign is much shorter than many anticipate, and those who only look to play each level once will be extremely disappointed when they hit the ending.
Oh, I forgot to mention: Insane mode is unlocked after one play through, I can't pass the.. 5th (I think) area with a level 49, so yeah, you can play this game forever.WRAP UP
As an arcade game that's going to cost you around 15 bucks, Castle Crashers is a 10 out of 10 in all fields, but to be realistic and actually look at what's expected of a retail game, which is what most people assume it should be, here are the scores.
All the menus are incredibly well made to roll into each other and the map system will make you smile. The HUD is also extremely well done, and the exclusion of complicated menus for weapon and skill management makes the experience a thousand times smoother.
GAPHICS AND SOUND: 20/20
The graphics are simply amazing, astounding, fantastic, beautiful, and colorful. You may need a dictionary to describe the feeling they give you.
The Soundtrack is to absolutely die for, and the Sound effects are abundant and well made.
Classic "Press this button till your thumb bleeds" action will definitely charm the hardcore gamers (Such as myself) but may get old for those of us who haven't enjoyed the classics. Bosses were intuitively designed to work well with the fighting system and are all unique. (Also, the bosses attacks are patterned for the most part, just like the old days!) Multiplayer is the best co-op by far, ahead of any regular retail game.
LASTING APPEAL 9/10
The collectibles are awesome and levelling every character up is a blast. However, when you finish the main story for the first time, you're going to be wishing your princess was in another castle, just a few levels ahead. :[
ANYHOW, THAT MAKES CASTLE CRASHERS IN MY HUMBLE OPINION A:
or in other words, if it were 60 bucks, I'd still grab a copy.
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it. Also, as a friend, I really recommend you buy this, it's like a hundred thousand times better than fifteen dollars...
Sorry for any type-Os, it's 5:45 in the morning and I need sleep. XD
Also in case anyone cares, I have a Newgrounds account that goes by the alias Chrome-Demon, check out some of my work if you want.