Castle Crashers Review [PSN]

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Two years it has taken but finally it is here, The Behemoth’s mammoth side scrolling hack and slash Castle Crashers has finally made its way onto the PSN. It’s side scrolling kick the be Jesus out of anything game still retains the same quality and gloss that gave it legendary status on the XBLA platform. The game still retains the same beautifully hand drawn visuals from Dan Paladin and potty style humour that made the game so memorable in the first place.

For those whom are unfortunate enough only to own one high definition system, the Castle Crashers formulae is rather simple. Save damsels from distress by invading castles and ridding them of Centaurs, Monsters and all other range of rogue folk. Given it is a hack and slash you could forgive the game for becoming a little too repetitive and whilst that accusation may hold water playing the game in single-player, the game was never designed to be played alone. Castle Crashers is best played online or offline with friends, playing it alone is a one way ticket to frustration as The Behemoth have produced a similar difficulty product to that of Alien Hominid HD.

So what gives Castle Crashers its broad appeal? The tongue in cheek humour, the beautifully hand drawn visuals, the memorable boss fights and the unexpected level of depth that the game actually has. In terms of beef it has plenty; over 40 weapons to find, animal orbs to collect and 20 characters to posses throughout the game it has enough bartering power to invest your coin into. Controls are very simple; you have standard attacks and powerful attacks tailored to the face buttons and your shield and power-ups handled by the trigger buttons on the PS3. Each character has its own power-up and you can even use these power-ups in the Volleyball mini-game that takes place instead of the rather drab ‘All you can Quaff’ mode. Volleyball well, feels like Volleyball and will require learning a little about spatial awareness before it feels natural. Volleyball once again is best ‘served’ up in multi-player because once again as a single player component it bores very early on.

In terms of other new additions, an Insane Mode Shop is available from the off and all other DLC that was released for the XBLA edition, comes free as standard on the PSN. Perhaps this is The Behemoth’s way of making up for the two year delay on the port. There are plenty of different areas to explore too, across frozen areas, desert areas and even on the back of a particular creature, I don’t want to spoil it for you, but for those with the immature sense of humour you will certainly appreciate it. You can even take to the fight in Team Arena where you can battle it out in a death-match arena or try and survive waves of enemies. Perhaps the biggest draw with Castle Crashers is the XP system. You can convert your pick-ups and coinage into improved XP in certain areas ranging from; strength, defence, agility and magic. You do have to genuinely upgrade these areas with thought and consideration which we quite liked. Speaking of the special powers, they vary depending on which character you play with. The green knight will produce poison, blue night will freeze enemies and the red knight can zap enemies. These are all nicely produced and look visually impressive on screen.

Online is good though connection issues still may be prevalent. We had a few issues hosting private matches but got in straight away for quick match types. It is certainly a smoother start than the XBLA release which needed patching months on. Does Castle Crashers provide the staying power? This is where I am not overly confident. Regardless of the depth and the animal orb finding it is still a rather basic combat experience. If you loved Golden Axe and other games of this ilk, you’ll be fine but for me I can’t see it holding your attention for any more than a single play-through, unless you are meticulous in finding and using everything that the game has to offer. One of the positive aspects of the game is that you can dual-wield weapons. I could use a bow and fire arrows at foes whilst at the same time hit them with swords but it still serves the same purpose, killing enemies one after the other, moving on to the next screen and ploughing through the game until you finally meet a boss where the interest spikes up a little more.

Castle Crashers is an accomplished title that even two years on feels particularly fresh. With all of the other content available on the arena though, whilst this is a particularly well made game we cannot push as far as calling this an essential purchase, so it falls just shy of that benchmark. If you absolutely cannot get enough of side-scrolling hack and slash games then we’d have to say that this is one of the best out their on modern platforms and is a much better game than the recently released Scott Pilgrim Vs the World.

79/100

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