by Matthew Thompson
(I am counting down my 25 favorite games of the last console generation. I explain a little about how I put the list together in this introduction. And you can see a collection of all my articles on the Best of 7th Gen compiled here.)
Castle Crashers is like one of those classic beat ‘em ups you used to feed your quarters to in the arcades as a youngster, but designed for the modern console era. It follows that same gameplay template where you are moving along and mixing it up with baddies from that familiar point of view, but it feels more fleshed out here which makes for a much more complete game. The result is the genre’s crowning achievement and my favorite of the new brand of smaller downloadable titles that the seventh generation’s increased online connectivity ushered in.
Developer The Behemoth’s touch is immediately felt when firing up Castle Crashers. Their now trademark art direction is here in full force creating a brilliant cartoon world full of bright colors and wonderful characters presented in an excellent hand-drawn style. Their sense of humor shows through as well and the game will have you in stitches throughout. I mean who can forget that uproarious pooping animal encounter in the forest area? It might sound juvenile, but I couldn’t help myself from cracking up. And that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the funny moments crammed into this game.
Castle Crashers is also loaded with content that will give you plenty of incentive to return to the title again and again. Loads of characters with unique magic attacks. Piles of weapons from classic medieval armaments like swords and axes to much more absurd additions like lollipops and lobsters. And I just love the animal orbs so much. I am a total sucker for animal companions in games (and real life for that matter) and these floating spherical pals are both adorable and useful. Finding new ones is always a joy. And of course, you can play it all locally or online with up to three friends. This is a genre that lives on great cooperative play and Castle Crashers thrives in that area as well even adding a competitive twist as you duke it out for princesses’ affections after saving them.
Castle Crashers is an excellent old-school beat ‘em up for the modern age, an adventure packed with memorable boss fights, laugh-out-loud scenarios and good old-fashioned fun that will really stick with you long after playing.
A few more things:
- While there was only one Castle Crashers game, I did enjoy The Behemoth’s other game BattleBlock Theater as well. I never finished it (my 360 died before I had the chance), but it was a really unique experience and absolutely hilarious. The story segments were just so damn funny.
- Naturally I was a Green Knight guy. He was the best.
- There were some fun mounts to use during portions of the game too. Those and some other twists helped keep things from getting stale in a genre that might otherwise get repetitive.
- One of my favorite parts of the seventh gen was the rise of smaller downloadable games like this one. This was my favorite and I included two others on this list (Mark of the Ninja and Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris), but I’m still going to do another post covering some of the gems that missed the top 25 cut. So hopefully that will be coming soon.