XBLA Review: Castle Crashers

Is this castle worth crashing?

Hack, slash, and smash your way to victory in this red-hot arcade adventure from the award-winning development studio, The Behemoth! Featuring hand-drawn characters, Castle Crashers® delivers unique hi-res illustrated visuals like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

Play with up to three friends locally or over Xbox LIVE® and discover the mind-boggling magic and mystery in the amazing world we have created just for you. Save your princess, defend your kingdom, and crash some castles! Play with more than 20 unlockable characters, 40 weapons to customize your hero, and an arsenal of combos and magical attacks to choose from.

  • Intuitive combo and magic system: Unlock new combos and magical attacks as your character progresses through the game. You have an almost limitless amount of combos to perform alone, or with a group of friends.
  • Arena mode: This mode allows players to battle each other head-on with four unique modes to choose from!
  • Experience system: As you fight your way through the various levels of Castle Crashers, your character gains more experience points that will in return give you the option to adjust your four main stats — Strength, Magic, Defense, and Agility.
  • Weapons weapons weapons! Each player has the ability to unlock more than 40 weapons.
  • Animal orbs: These little companions add enhancements to your attributes. Each pet has different abilities to benefit you, with various ways of unlocking each one. Defeat a boss and steal his companion, dig them up, or buy them at a store.
  • Treasure hunt: Unlockable items, weapons, pet companions, and characters are buried throughout the various levels of Castle Crashers.
  • Stores: Spread across the various worlds of Castle Crashers, every store has specific items to sell. Collect gold from killing enemies, finding treasures, or opening chests, then take your collected gold to these stores for some weapons, items, character unlocks, and more!

    Castle Crashers is an oddity, one that will annoy but also enjoy. It’s rare that XBLA gets a good RPG, but this certainly does the job well. Essentially its button bashing madness against some huge enemies with some zany humour thrown in.

    Your fighter’s journey begins at a castle party where it suddenly becomes under attack. The story revolves around 4 princesses who have been kidnapped, although it’s not that important since the game has no dialogue during the story. As you leave the castle, you’ll come to an overworld map that is reminiscent of an old Mario game. Being an RPG, you’ll level up during your fights and then you need to set the attributes to the standard things like strength, health and magic.

    Castle Crashers is not short of boss fights, there are plenty for you to dig into. But it can be somewhat forgiving since if you die, you just go back to the overworld map with all the XP you’ve earned and can jump straight back into the fight. You can also carry items like health potions and sandwiches that turn you into a beefed up monster for a few seconds, these things can literally spell victory if you are struggling.

    Combat can be a bit hectic at times as enemies tend to throw things like arrows and bombs at you when you are hacking away with your sword. You do have a shield to block arrows, but it can be a bit unresponsive if you try and get back up after being knocked down, so chances are you’ll be constantly hit with things. Of course, that depends on what type of fighter you want to be…you can use a sword, a bow or some magic to deal with your enemies. It’s completely upto you.

    The game is potentially more fun with 3 other friends, but at the time of writing this review…there is a very annoying glitch that can wipe your single player progress by playing a multiplayer mode. There is a patch coming that will fix it, but at the present time…it’s a big problem that made me go through the game again. Total length depends on how many people play with you and how good you are, but playing it solo..it took me around 4-5 hours, which seems fairly short but don’t forget there are other modes besides the adventure that will extend that by a considerable amount.

    The visuals of Castle Crashers are like that of Alien Hominid, in fact there are a few references to it in the game but I won’t spoil it too much. It runs smoothly and just looks amazing for an XBLA game, some enemies will annoy you more than others…for me it was the larger ones that kept picking me up and throwing me while others might find the blobs that attach themselves to you more frustrating. But the enemy design is great, even despite that. It’s because they are annoying that you’ll remember them more than the easier enemies.

    The Verdict

    Castle Crashers may be steep at 1200 Microsoft Points, but you’ll be hard pushed to find another enticing hack n’ slash RPG that is very addictive, no matter how short it is. I can’t recommend it high enough for those who enjoy this genre of games.