[Review] Castle Crashers

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Not many games can exude a sense of humor. More importantly, it’s tough to find a game that is lacking in story but which can still provide you with a few chuckles. Castle Crashers is one such game.

Castle Crashers was originally released on August 31 2010 through Xbox Live Arcade and the Playstation Network. Every single aspect of the game oozes a cartoonish sense of humor. Not only is it good for a laugh, but it also delivers fun gameplay and a great multiplayer experience to share with friends.

Save the Princess, Save the World

Saving the princess might seem like a worn out objective for a game, but Castle Crashers has managed to turn achieving that goal into a fun, ass-kicking experience. This multiplayer side-scroller pits you and your friends against legions of tough enemies as one of four knights, in your attempt to save four princesses from an evil dark wizard.

Beyond this basic setting the game’s story doesn’t have much more depth, but with its gameplay being the focus, I can see why the story appears to have been put on the back burner.

The levels are laid out as simple 2D side-scrolling stages with scripted enemy appearances. These scripted moments make enemy generation far more refreshing than having enemies strolling in from off-screen. Enemy types are varied from each area and level, creating new challenges for you to strategise over.

Each level also features unique set pieces. While invading one castle, I was joined by additional troops that helped me to fight my way inside. Another moment involved a fight on top of a carriage while being attacked by thieves and a huge cat creature that fires laser beams from its eyes.

Sound pretty crazy?  It gets even more interesting as you continue playing. Two words: pirate ninjas.

Co-op

You can go solo, but you would essentially be missing the point of the game. Having a few friends along for the ride allows you strategize co-operatively to take down tougher enemies and bosses.

And when I say tough enemies, I mean tough. Bosses and even standard goons will sometimes make your life hell. Bosses in particular will ramp in difficulty as you deal damage to them. Players can put melee attacks and magic to use against their enemies. Players can also level up and improve their stats as each level is completed.

If you die before beating a level, the game still saves your level ups making all of those tough fights worth your time.

Different melee combos will allow you to knock down enemies or send them flying through the air. While they’re certainly entertaining, I didn’t find them necessary for standard enemy encounters.

Magic

Magic on the other hand can come in handy and is actually quite diverse.

Each knight’s spell is associated with a unique element. The green knight uses acidic attacks while the orange knight uses fire. Spells appear in different forms ranging from spray attacks that damage multiple enemies to more direct ball attacks. While not a complex system it’s great seeing it implemented so well compared to other beat ’em up brawlers where those secondary attacks are truly secondary.

PvP

There is a competitive mode in which players can duel one another. There are stadiums throughout the game world which allow two knights to go head to head with each other.

Players will also have the opportunity to duke it out with each other whenever you save a princess. After all, only one man can win the woman’s heart. It isn’t nearly as fun as co-op, but it’s a nice respite from dealing with multiple enemy AI.

The cartoon style graphics fit the game’s goofy sense of humor and still manages to convey the fantasy world around you. The expressions of the knights as they take damage is so amusing you may want to purposely take hits to witness the hilarious pain in their faces.

In all honesty though, you probably won’t even take much notice to it as you’re slaying your enemies. You’ll be more concerned about the enemies in front of you than how beautiful the surroundings are.

Verdict

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Castle Crashers offers one of those rare gaming experiences that offers pure fun. There’s no heavy story weighing on your shoulders and the levels offer a straightforward challenge for you to accomplish.

This is one of those downloadable experiences that’s worth the $20 in your pocket. So grab some friends and ready your blade because it’s time to save the princesses.

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