Review by DarkAkatosh
Hard Rock Knights...
When you're a knight, you can't catch a break. You're in the castle, headbanging to some awesome medieval tunes when suddenly, a comrade's been shot and killed. It's time to go out and find out what's up. The entire castle's been ravaged by barbarians, and the King's four daughters have been kidnapped. To make matters worse, the sacred crystal has been taken by an evil Wizard. It's time to restore order, yet again.
Yeah, this is basically the background story in Castle Crashers. You're a knight that goes on a journey to save your kingdom from this Wizard, not to mention the four Princesses. To do it, you traverse cel-shaded environments in a side-scrolling beat 'em up, killing every little thing you see. You get to level up along the way too, and you have four attributes: Strength, Magic, Health/Defense, and Agility. Level up by attacking (not killing) and you get to increase these attributes. It may seem like nothing too special, but once we get into the grand scope of it all, believe me, it is.
There are tons of weapons in the game, each of which have different effects on the various attributes of your character. There are also Animal Orbs, which are little round animals that serve as your companions in your journey. Some give stat boosts, others attack with you, and some even have negative elements. The combinations that you can come up with can make for some hefty replay value. Not to mention, there are close to 30 characters to boot, all of which are unique even though it may not seem so at times.
There are some pretty awesome boss battles in the game, ranging from (literally) a catfish to a glamorous take on Medusa. Simply put, the boss battles are quite the treat, though they become a cinch once you get the hang of it. Think the game wasn't hard the first time through? Try Insane mode, which ramps up the difficulty a thousand fold. Really, it's that hard.
Rounding out the single player mode is two minigames, the Arena, which can be either a survival challenge or a free for all or two versus two; this would be the former if your flying solo, the latter if you have buddies. The multiplayer Arena has four modes, all of which are quite different and will keep your buddies coming back for more. The other minigame is Volleyball, which is what it implies, a game of volleyball, First to ten, win by two. It's supposed to be four versus four, but you can customize the teams to whatever fits your fancy, provided the other team has people of course.
Now, we'll dive into the online multiplayer. Yes, you can play those two minigames I mentioned online, but the real draw is the four player co-op. It's a lot of fun, though flawed. Anyone in the party can pick any level, so it's best to have a predetermined strategy before diving in. The real kicker: the bugs. And there are a lot of them. From personal experiences, I have been able to connect to some people no problem, and cannot connect to others at all. Furthermore, there are a few multiplayer freezing bugs as well, which really drags down the experience. But my personal favorite in the co-op is when you are about to save a Princess. You have to fight for her kiss! After you defeat a boss that's holding a princess captive, the four of you have to fight to the death to obtain the Princess' kiss. You can't beat that! Had it not been for the multiplayer shortcomings, we'd have a near perfect game. And before you forget, yes, you can play co-op locally too. Everything that can be done online can be done locally as well. You can even mix local and online players, meaning two people who play locally can party up with 2 unique people online.
Castle Crashers is awesome. There's no denying it. The addictive gameplay will keep you coming back for more, and the sheer amount of characters, weapons, and Animal Orbs will provide you with a ton of replay value. There are also leaderboards, but I consider them irrelevant because they are measured by experience, which means it's a time spent playing ratio more than anything else. The Behemoth and Newgrounds did an outstanding job on the game. Now we wait for a patch to fix all of the multiplayer issues. But I'm not holding my breath.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Castle Crashers (US, 08/31/10)
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