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Castle Crashers (Xbox 360) artwork

Castle Crashers (Xbox 360) review


"Castle Crashers is really neither new nor fresh, instead, it simply follows in the footsteps of past beat 'em up releases, like the two Dungeon & Dragons arcade titles and Guardian Heroes, where, besides beating up villains, you can have up to four gamers play, gain experience points, cast spells, shop at stores, and take alternative paths. Gameplay-wise, everything Castle Crashers does has already been done. However, I highly doubt the developers, The Behemoth, were aiming for ori..."



Castle Crashers is really neither new nor fresh, instead, it simply follows in the footsteps of past beat 'em up releases, like the two Dungeon & Dragons arcade titles and Guardian Heroes, where, besides beating up villains, you can have up to four gamers play, gain experience points, cast spells, shop at stores, and take alternative paths. Gameplay-wise, everything Castle Crashers does has already been done. However, I highly doubt the developers, The Behemoth, were aiming for originality when they created this Live Arcade title. Like with their previous game, Alien Hominid, all they wanted to do was make an old-school title with a buttload of humor crammed in it.

I'm not exaggerating about the humor, it's everywhere, so, if you want a serious beat 'em up, this is the complete opposite of what you're looking for. Now, there is a bit of violence involving heads flying off and bodies exploding, but that's mixed in with the abundance of silly moments spread throughout Castle Crashers. Hell, one of the first absurd images you will see is of a blacksmith having his anvil tied to a giant frog with antlers. A giant frog with antlers that keeps all your unused weapons inside its body. Why? I don't know. Minutes later, you will venture into a forest where everything seems fine at first. After spending a few seconds in this forest, though, you'll realize all the animals get explosive diarrhea whenever the ground rumbles. Eventually, you'll discover what's causing this, and find yourself trying to escape "it" while riding a deer through a log factory. Much later, you'll run into a dragon and its sock puppet. And then ninja pirates... You will constantly get this kind of humor for the entire game. And while enduring all this craziness, you'll be controlling your character with such ease as he plows through enemies, from barbarians to skeletons, that pop up on screen with no hesitation. It's good the controls are simple to work with, since it's easier to concentrate on the chaos without worries.

Unfortunately, I believe the game just falls apart halfway through, once you reach the desert section. Starting there, Castle Crashers drags to create a lengthy journey. The desert levels are just sloppy, especially the first stage where you run past a bunch of scorpions that don't attack, unless you're dumb enough to stand in front of one. There's even one stage that consists of a small room with only seven soldiers to fight! They tried spicing up this section of the game by injecting an Alien Hominid stage, but even that comes off weak due to how short and easy it is. The only truly great moment is the area's "boss" fight that forces you to play a game of volleyball. Most of the stages after aren't that great, either, featuring almost no humor and repetitive, boring battles. It's almost like, after reaching a certain "height", the developers just stopped trying, and felt content to repeat what was already done in a half-assed manner.

Also, while Castle Crashers' online coop sounds great with the ability to play with three different gamers every time, it, too, has its share of flaws. The developers should have really put some thought into making a balanced experience, because the way it is now, it's just not fun and fair. There's rarely a time where you'll be playing with a balanced group: you might pick a level 30 character, and the other three players' levels will be something like 1, 60, and 99. Obviously, the players with the higher, stronger levels are going to do the most damage, wiping out enemy waves and bosses without much effort. The Behemoth should have inserted a system, at least as an option, where players could be paired with other players with similar, close levels, thus creating a balanced and challenging session. There is another irritating problem that ruins the online experience: the 256 glitch. This is a trick gamers can exploit that allows them to level up to 256 easily. But the thing is, the default max level is 99, so 256 just makes players extremely overpowered. If you ever join a session with a 256er, leave, because you're not going to have any fun with these show-offs.

There was a lot of potential in Castle Crashers, but the number of issues, from the disappointing second half, to the annoyances in the online mode, prevent it from being a wonderful game. Really, the most fun you can squeeze out of this Live Arcade title is to play the short Arena matches online (they're basically Vs fights), or get three friends together that never played the game and have everyone start from the beginning with level 1 characters. Other than that, if you've never played Castle Crashers, I would advise you to be very cautious when considering downloading it. The game has its moments, but it also has problems that will frustrate and disappoint you.

Rating: 5/10

pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (January 10, 2010)

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