Castle Crashers is an old game, there’s no doubt about it. Two years after its Xbox LIVE Arcade release, the game’s finally launched on Sony’s PlayStation Network. Those who’ve yet to give it a go shouldn’t pass it up merely due to its age. While not abundant in new features, it does boast a couple of noteworthy additions. The volleyball mini-game found in the game’s desert stage is now a full-fledged mini-game, complete with four-on-four online matches — much better than the Xbox LIVE Arcade version’s ‘All You Can Quaff’ mini-game, which is mindless button-mashing, if you ask me.
Castle Crashers is an action RPG. Up to four players can play together both offline and online throughout the game’s campaign. Players move their way across a world map and progress through various different stages in search of four princesses kidnapped early on in the game. You’ll never get bored with the game’s stages, I assure you. Each area offers different types of enemies to fight, all boasting different sets of magic, different environments, and a refreshing feel. You’ll find yourself floating on logs in a river at one point, then fighting a live volcano at another. It’s a diverse feel all around.
Developer The Behemoth has done the gracious service of infusing the game with an overall amount of twenty bosses for players to defeat as they progress through each stage. Each boss is unique in their own way, featuring their own attack patterns and skills. Never in the game do I recall seeing a boss using recycled abilities — which I find fantastic for the amount of boss fights the game offers.
Of course, a role-playing game isn’t a role-playing game without some sort of level system, right? Players gain experience points as they fight and can level up mid-combat where they’ll regenerate their health and magic points and every now and then learn new combos. At the end of each stage, players can apply the skill points earned from leveling up to some of their four attributes: health, magic, defense or agility. Leveling up the magic attribute to a certain extent will grant players a new ability based on their selected character’s element. There are four total magic attacks a player can learn, but with three other attributes to be considered, it could take some time to get there.
Players will find new weapons and pets as they fight to save their princesses. Weapons generally offer the player a higher amount of strength in exchange for a lower amount of defense and agility, or vice-versa, so making a decision on whether or not to pick up the new weapon can sometimes be difficult. Some weapons have elements attached to them, such as fire, that deal extra damage (i.e. burn). Pets, on the other hand, offer players benefits on the battlefield. Some pets can help players find items while others can help them regenerate more health from eating fruits. Believe it or not, they offer a great deal of help sometimes; you’ll appreciate their floating presence.
Castle Crashers is not only an awesome first-time experience, but its addictive nature makes it an awesome third-time experience, as well. I honestly don’t think I see myself putting this game down anytime soon. I’ve already started a third play-through over PlayStation Network with my girlfriend using the unlockable Alien Hominid character. Speaking of which, not only can you unlock Alien Hominid, but you can unlock various other characters too, including enemies.
There’s a lot to say about Castle Crashers, but more to experience. Nothing really changed from the game’s original release two years ago, but it’s still worth your time and money. You might even find yourself playing this more than you play your retail releases, which usually isn’t the case for digital downloads. Two years later, Castle Crashers still appeals. There’s a lot to do, a lot to find, and even an ‘Insane’ mode to try out after your first play-through (if you’re tough enough). More importantly, though, there’s a lot to love. If it’s not the game’s wonderfully cartoony art direction, it’s the game’s addictive structure. Buy it. You won’t regret it.
Castle Crashers was reviewed on PlayStation 3. The game was played to completion on regular difficulty. Castle Crashers launches for PlayStation 3 on August 31, 2010 for $14.99 and for Xbox 360 on August 27, 2008 for 1200 Microsoft Points.