Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Castle Crashing it up!

Last week at the urgings of a buddy, I downloaded the Castle Crashers demo. Dustin had told me about the game but I wasn’t sold until I tried the demo. Even then, I was a little skeptical at paying $15 for a game after spending a measly $10 on the beyond excellent BC Rearmed. However, soon, my wife, Maureen got involved in playing the demo with me, and it wasn’t long before she said “We should really get this when we get a chance.” A few days later, we played it with our friend Aaron, who was nice enough to spot us the cash for a download of the full game and we’ve all been playing it a lot since.

We don’t have a review format here at Driver ID and I don’t know if we ever will, but I can’t help talking about the game a bit. I initially planned to do these as initial impressions, but the game is so addictive that we’ve played through levels several times, played through many of the modes and actually finished the game too. It’s great.

J, Dustin and I are currently thinking about games we’d like to see remade to post about; I was talking about playing Capcom Classics Collection in one of my first posts and Magic Sword is a game I’ve dreamed of seeing a remake for. More on that later, but Castle Crashers is just about the next best thing. It really takes the formula of a lot of the old beat ‘em ups similar to Magic Sword, similar games on that Capcom compilation and other arcade gems, notably games the TMNT or Simpsons arcade games—but has a lot more going for it. CC takes it up a notch by adding RPG elements through customizable stats, pets that accompany you and assist in different ways, occasional creatures you can ride and also some neat surprises that I won’t spoil here. There are numerous weapons to collect, from a wide array of swords, axes and maces as well as offbeat bludgeoning devices such as lobsters, umbrellas and sausages.

There are four main characters, each with their own magic: red (electricity), blue (ice), yellow (fire) and green (poison). Beating the game with each character unlocks a new character, and characters that have already been built up can replay the game for even more grinding and weapon & pet discovering. I’ve only played the demo alone as this is really a game that demands multiplayer. If you don’t have friends who come over, you can always play on Live. On top of the main game, there are several arena modes where you fight each other (or can fight foes in single player) in different ways: treasure hunting, archery fights or matches as beefed up muscleheads. There’s also a bonus eating game which is done through rapid alternating button pressing. All this adds up to loads of replay.

The game oozes style. I have yet to play Alien Hominid, though I’ve heard the acclaim for it and if it’s anything like Castle Crashers, it’s deserved. Castle Crashers is wacky, colorful, humorous, clever and wildly creative. The music ranges from epic to downright silly but it’s all appropriate and well composed. The character design is fantastic and definitely creates the hope that CC won’t be the last game we see these angry little knights in.

There are glitches though and I have yet to play it on Live, which I also hear has its share of problems. I’m sure patches are being worked on now though, so these problems shouldn’t be a big deal in the long run. I’ll say again, I was a little skeptical of this game at first but it comes through in a big way and is easily worth its asking price. Games like this and Bionic Commando Rearmed are really upping the ante of what gamers should expect from downloadable games on their respective consoles.


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