During the 80s and 90s, 2-D hack-and-slash-styled titles were all over the arcades. Titles like Golden Axe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Simpsons were just a few. However, The Behemoth, the creators of Alien Hominid, have brought 2-D hack-and-slash to 2008 with Castle Crashers, and it truly is a grand title.
Castle Crashers starts out with our hero having a party in his castle. The problem is a wizard of sorts has crashed your gig, taking the princesses and power crystal from the castle. So begins your quest to save the princesses and stop the wizard. There are four knights that you can take from the beginning of the game, five if you have Alien Hominid HD as you can be the alien from that title. All of the characters have different magic based on the color of the knight, examples being fire for the red knight or ice for the blue knight. The knights can also be leveled up, as well as the defense, strength and agility of the knight.
The graphics look like the hand-drawn style from Hominid, extremely colorful and extremely well done. The controls are excellent and responsive, as well as easy to figure out. The soundtrack is probably the best part though, from the opening music that ramps up at the start, to the cheesy bits that actually fit the part, to the dark music that finishes up the end of the game. It all fits and it all sounds good.
Four player co-op is really where the title shines. There is no lag regardless of how many people are on the screen and it plays well co-op online or offline. There are bonuses if you play co-op compared to single player, such as duels with the other players to get the kiss from the maiden. The positive note is that you can still play and finish the game by yourself; the co-op is just an added bonus. There are also a couple of separate online and offline game types. One is a dueling section were you just battle it out with another knight. The other is a button-mashing eating contest, totally a throwback to old-style gaming.
It’s not all good news though. There are issues with parts of the game glitching, and even worse, the loss of save files, which have been seen first hand. There is supposed to be a patch in the pipeline but that has yet to be seen. The fact is that the title is a blast, so unless you have ground to level 99, having to restart probably won't be that big of an issue.
The achievements are all straight forward in the title. Most can be acquired by yourself, minus a few that require another knight for the achievements to be active. The 40 ranked wins online will take some effort though as there are many weapons that you can use with your knight as well as the level differences that you can see.
All in all though, this was the title to have of the "Summer of Arcade" releases. At 1200 Microsoft Points, it may seem a bit steep, but for that price, think of it as getting a retail quality release at a discounted price.
Castle Crashers is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Cartoon Violence, Crude Humor.