Castle Crashers (Xbox 360) review
"Castle Crashers begins with your knight of choice doing what knights do best: rocking out. Of course, not all goes to plan when a nerfarious wizard busts on the scene, stealing the castle's magical crystal and running off with the hot maidens. And so it's up to you, as one of 4 colourful knights to set out on a quest to get them back and kick some evil wizard ass. "
Castle Crashers begins with your knight of choice doing what knights do best: rocking out. Of course, not all goes to plan when a nerfarious wizard busts on the scene, stealing the castle's magical crystal and running off with the hot maidens. And so it's up to you, as one of 4 colourful knights to set out on a quest to get them back and kick some evil wizard ass.
Castle Crashers is not like other beat-em-ups. It's as much an RPG as it is a brawler, and it shows from the very outset of your adventure. As you constantly move right and cut through the swaths of enemies before you, you'll earn experience points that, upon leveling up, will allow you to distribute stat boosts to your strength, defense, agility, and magic. Unlike other beat-em-ups, the only major difference in Castle Crashers' characters comes in the type of spells they cast. The red knight is a master of flames, while those of a jade hue will find their spells spewing forth a vile poison. I was the blue knight, because
I wish I were I'm cool.
This stat management adds a level of depth that's lacking in older beat-em-ups, and adds a ton of replayability to boot. One playthrough, you may choose to be an unstoppable tank with rock hard defense, while in another you can utilize the magical arts to roast your foes to a crisp from afar. All of this is done on a backdrop of simple, yet stunning hand-drawn backgrounds. The thick lines and crisp colours belie a ton of little details, whether it's the thieves watching you in the forest, or the cracked wall in the sand castle that can be blasted open to reveal a pet that will follow you around, there's a multitude of secrets to be unlocked for the keen observer. Sadly, this means that the very same keen observer will bear witness to a number of the immature attempts at humour the developers tried instilling into the game. At one scene in a serene forest, you pass by an owl, in which the action on screen freezes to show you that the owl is taking a dump. Shortly after, a loud crash happens and the owl shits more, then falls from the tree it's perched in. While it's clearly there to get people to laugh, it just comes off as obnoxious and pointless toilet humour in an otherwise spectacular and hilarious game.
And the boss battles are some of the most amusing. In the very first boss encounter, you're faced against a giant man who fights with a massive, spiked plank of wood. While beating him down, he'll begin to down a bottle of liquor, and belch flames as he flies across the arena. A later one pits you against a giant cat with a shark fin in a duel in a river, in which you must fight both the beast itself and the currents. However, my personal favourite is the knight dressed in a tux over his armour, determined to marry one of the kidnapped princesses, who runs to his organs in the wedding chapel and plays them, causing them to unleash a flurry of bombs to the melodies he plays.
However, Castle Crashers has one major flaw, which was supposed to be its ultimate selling point: the online multiplayer is completely broken. I've never been able to play online with anyone, thanks to the broken matchmaking system that can't seem to find any games despite it being one of the most popular games on Xbox Live.
...Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.
Thankfully the single-player mode redeems the disappointment of the multiplayer. Spectacular and hilarious battles in a large world with diverse stages make Castle Crashers a hit for fans of both RPGs and beat-em-ups, and the rewarding replayability will make it hard to put down for a long, long time.
And you all thought beat-em-ups were a dead genre.
Community review by espiga (September 27, 2008)
Espiga likes big butts, and cannot lie.
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