Castle Crashers ReviewMarch 5, 2009
I just finished Castle Crashers (normal mode) and I’m starting right now the “insane mode”. OH YEAH!
Just like Alien Hominid, I found the game extremely refreshing and action based with a pinch of retro difficulty that makes this game a very coin-op experience. Here is my review of the game (very personal and more intended for game developers).
WHERE THIS GAME IS DAMN GOOD!
– Keep the good, trash the rest: From my point of view, the Behemoth created a small revolution in the 2D beat’em all genre. Amongst all mechanics the game features, I’d like to comment a little bit on the air attack control and block system which I think are really different from what we’ve seen so far in the genre.
1°) Air Attack Control (ACC) (SPOILER): probably the ultimate technique to defeat monsters and, logically, the game. In fact it is a mechanic inherited directly from Alien Hominid and (this message is intended to Castle Crashers developers) it was a right choice! This game mechanic lets the player stay at the same height in the air as long as he hits an enemy. While in the air the player has the ability to move free and attack with his character (it doesn’t lose height as long as he hits enemies). If the character gets hit, it falls.
Castle Crasher Air Control System
This unique mechanic of Alien Hominid lets players avoid ground attacks more easily. In Castle Crashers, combined with uppercut attacks, you can literally fly around the screen agglomerating all the enemies and creating deadly chains. Even if it creates a little goofy look for the characters, this is really empowering for advanced players.
2°) Block system: one addition they made to “classics” is the ability to block attacks without losing health (remember Wonderboy 3 or Zelda?). This mechanic is rarely useful in the game but when it’s used it is for good reasons. For example you’re when stuck with 10 or more monsters on your back in an arena or against a boss or a monster throwing projectiles at you.
Wndery Boy 3 Adventures
Even if it is a good system it is a very risky mechanic to add in this genre because it can create an unbalanced gameplay and lead to a wrong experience (too much blocking instead of attacking). But it is not the case here. I still see a possible improvement to their system: the ability to block in the air. By the way, I’m asking myself if the visuals drove this idea to be integrated…
– Mixed genres: From my point of view Castle Crashers mixes genres with no complexes and that’s cool. You can find a pretty much advanced loot system for chests and opponents. The leveling system which is borrowed directly from RPGs or the pet system coming straight from WoW for example (it is not the first one to do it though). This is simply refreshing, elegant and not cumbersome.
Castle Crashers Loot System
– Humor, 8-bit music theme and tons of collectibles (SPOILER): You can collect tons of stuff in CC: weapons, animals’ orbs, characters. The game features very retro 8-bit style music which I personally like. Oh by the way, my girlfriend found the music very cheap, in this industry you can never make everyone happy. And there is humor everywhere and not the kind of humor you need to be native speaker to understand (maybe the scene where the does shi* frightened by a giant cat is not the brightest scene, but it made my laugh). You can also kick some Aliens’ asses from “Alien Hominid” and if you played the game you’ll meet an old friend.
Though to myself: This industry is really too serious, I found myself laughing at my console like I did with the good old Monkey Island and alike back in the 90s days. It would be very cool to create a good game genre parody (The Behemoth keep working guys this is really cool).
– Golden Axe fanboys! You can find a lot of winks to the cult beat’em all game, Golden Axe:
1°) First you can find rides that you can mount and use (a doe, a kind of crocodile, a lama, a horse). The significant differences between GA and CC are that you can use mounts as long as you want (until the next level) and you can choose between short sword attacks to create devastating air-combos or to use long range animal attacks.
Golden Axe Rides
2°) Secondly there’s this small creature which tries to steal bags of gold that monsters drops from time to time. Of course this creature is reminiscent from the goblins you can find when you rest in Golden Axe.
Golden Axe Filthy Goblins!
3°) You find in CC classics beat’em all games mechanics such as the roll in or jump attack when enemies just got down, a traitorous short or long range back attack when you’re beating an enemy, throw attacks and multiple opponents hits. 2D is so cool.
WHAT IS BAD (or could be improved)?
– All you can eat: I just found the all you can eat mini game very disappointing because it is simply useless. Not very fun it just some good track and field old gameplay, nothing more nothing less. There is not even something interesting to unlock unless a multiplayer achievement. Behemoth, you can do better than that. For example unlock a hidden passage behind the castle to defeat all the bosses in a single level? Production wise, it is not very time consuming comparatively to the rest of the game.
– Arenas: You can find in the game many battle arenas where the player fights successive and bigger waves of the same kind of monsters, which is really where the real difficulty in this game is. The price when you have beaten all the monsters? Unlock a new playable character. That’s cool but you don’t earn experience points. Just like any level why didn’t the same as to be different? It would be very interesting to kill count and give some XP if the player succeed in the arena.
– No Multiplayer Coordinated Actions (MCA): Cadillac Dinosaurs had this extraordinary feature where players are able to execute synchronized and powerful attacks (when you’re playing with two players or more at the same time). Triggering those attacks is very simple both players had to be at the same position and had to wait for a while, blinking characters showed when the coordinated action was available.This lacks in Castle Crashers especially when the multiplayer features are at the center of the game.
– No castle crashing! Damn I thought that I could use to destroy some castle walls or fortresses using a catapult, or with my “super power sandwich mode”. But nothing of this, the only things that you have to break or crash are a bunch of crystals (near the final boss) or a front door. Sad, I’ll have to extinguish my thirst of destruction somewhere else.