Gameplay – 9.5
Castle Crashers is your classic side-scrolling beat-em-up arcade game. The game is simple & fun, offering some RPG elements such as leveling up character abilities (strength, magic, defense, & agility). At the start of the game you are required to select one of four similarly-looking characters; there is the blue, red, green, & orange knight. Each knight comes with his own unique blend of magic, such as the blue knight’s ice and the red knight’s lightning. There are also additional characters that, once unlocked, can be used to go back and replay the game with. Controls are straight forward with buttons for weak & strong attacks, jumping, and magic. Combo attacks will also become available as your character levels up and can be learned via on-screen prompts that appear automatically once certain levels are reached. There are different weapons you can obtain that will either boost or reduce your skills depending on type, i.e. a staff will increase your magic but lower your defense. Animal companions are also introduced from the get-go. Ranging from a ram that will attack enemies to a seahorse that will help you move through water faster, the animal companions add a unique element to the game.
Story – 8.5
Each of the King’s four daughters are kidnapped and you are appointed to rescue them. That’s … about … it. Despite the typically weak beat-em-up story, the journey to rescue the daughters is entertaining to say the least. You will encounter a giant bat, animals defecating in fear, and a knight that plays a bomb-shooting organ to name a few of the more amusing moments. Levels vary often enough to stay interesting; one level you will be in the water fighting and the next you may find yourself smack-dab in the middle of a chase sequence.
Game Modes/Presentation – 8.0
There are 3 game modes within Castle Crashers. Story mode, as stated above, follows you on your quest to save the King’s kidnapped daughters. ”All You Can Quaff” is a button-mashing mini-game pitting characters against one another in order to see who can eat the most food. Unless you enjoy mashing buttons & want an achievement, there is not much of a point to this mode. Last but not least is Arena mode in which the characters attempt to survive through several waves of enemies.
Graphics – 8.5
Castle Crashers has a look of its own thanks to its use of unique cartoon graphics. The colors are vibrant and the game runs very smoothly. My only gripe with the graphics is that during spell-casting, specifically during fire spells, the screen becomes very cluttered and it can be difficult to see anything. Aside from that, the game is visually appealing.
Sound – 9.0
I was not expecting much in the sound department of Castle Crashers seeing as how it is an Xbox Live Aracde title but I was surprised to discover an awesome soundtrack that has some epic tracks starting right at the main menu. The music is well orchestrated and goes great with the game.
Online – 8.5
All game modes are available both locally and online. There are no added features when venturing into the online world, only the ability to play with or against your friends from the comfort of your own home. I did not experience any issues with lag during my time playing online.
Final Score - 9.0
Available via the Xbox Live Marketplace, Castle Crashers is a worthy download for any fan that enjoys old school beat-em-up classics such as the ‘Streets of Rage’ series.
Reviewed by Andy Nighthorse
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