Despite its tiny size, Castle Crashers was an important game in the Xbox Live Arcade economy and a bit for the entire Xbox 360. It came out in the summer of 2008, during the first and historic Summer of Arcade that brought it to the digital service. Microsoft delivery other pearls such as Braid and the second Geometry Wars, effectively sanctioning the clear evolution of the digital and indie (or semi-indie) market on Xbox 360 and consoles in general, with Castle Crashers leading the charge of new "light games "as a quality alternative to the classic retail landscape.
This is the weight of the title The Behemoth in the memory of those who bought it at launch: not a very refined and complex product, on the contrary it seemed to scream in the player's face its nature of a limited budget production, with its flash game appearance. that well remembered the background of developers in fiercely alternative fields like Newgrounds. The simplicity of the raw design had an almost iconoclastic force towards the clichés of the sliding action genre, but the mechanics of the game, on the other hand, were particularly solid and traditionalist, designed to capture the player well beyond the short session that the flash mini-game aspect seemed to inspire. A historical shot is necessary to understand the importance of Castle Crashers in the console landscape, also because in the current richness and variety of the indie market the disruptive force of the game The Behemoth, at this point, has been largely lost and who is found in front of this game for the first time could consider it just another 2D action game with hand-drawn graphics and a nostalgic style. A little bit like that in fact, but it is not difficult to see something particularly vivid and substantial in this title.
Castle Crashers returns in a remastered version, bringing with it the usual dose of action and madness
Castle Crashers Remastered is a side-scrolling action game on the style of old-fashioned brawlers, in which we face various levels alone or in the company of three companions in the cooperative mode (as far as the main campaign is concerned) essentially beating blows against everything. the one that moves on the screen, advancing through the scenarios and occasionally facing bosses that offer very special game situations. The story sees a group of knights (or just one, if playing solo) rushing to the rescue of kidnapped princesses and a war-torn kingdom within a setting that is a sort of demented caricature of classic fantasy.
Nothing really new, therefore, but a resumption of historical themes and mechanics of arcade video games with elementary role integrations in the personalization and evolution of the characters but all characterized by an excellent balance in the rhythms, in the density and in the variation of the fights, succeeding in not easy task of always being stimulating and not very monotonous, despite the intrinsic repetition of the same actions. The crazy and humorous different situations in which you find yourself actually play an excellent role of variation but it is also the mechanics of the clashes that balance the action, forcing you to alternate attack and defense strategies due to a good amount of different enemies resulting in different characteristics and attack patterns. It is clear that it is still a matter of pressing buttons in rapid succession, trying to carry out combos and alternating defense, light and powerful attacks with weapons and magic rather than reflecting on the actions to be performed, also considering that sometimes the large amount of characters and events on the screen tends to make the action a bit confusing, in some cases covering the protagonist and making it difficult to read the events. To appreciate Castle Crashers it is therefore necessary to have in the strings a bit of nostalgia for the healthy sliding beat'em up of the past. The presence of a real progression of the fighters, with the possibility of distributing experience points on the classic parameters (strength, magic, defense, dexterity) and unlocking increasingly powerful weapons and companions, however, represents an important element capable of giving greater depth to the pure action structure with horizontal scrolling.
The graphic reworking carried out with this Remastered is not the most evident to tell the truth, especially due to the graphic style adopted from the beginning by The Behemoth and characteristic of the team's productions, as we will analyze later. Therefore, the technical aspect is not the quid that gives meaning to the return to the scene of this game.
In fact, its presence is justified above all by the basic validity of a game that relies on structural elements with an imperishable value as far as video games are concerned, which make Castle Crashers practically always appreciable. From a content point of view, the team's proposal is decidedly honest, offering all the original content plus further additions between characters and equipment originally released in DLC in a package that is now more complete and balanced than before. In addition to the classic campaign, which can be tackled in single or cooperative multiplayer, the Arena is back, offering the possibility of varying the action by focusing on pure combat against a continuous wave of opponents with progressive difficulty, ideal for testing weapons, earning money and making some experience points. The only real novelty is the "Back, Barbarians!" Mode, which is so strange as to initially leave you dumbfounded. It involves moving the character within an arena divided into square boxes, with the pressing of each key corresponding to the movement of a box in the four possible directions. The aim is to resist as long as possible without being touched by the enemies who, gradually, are placed in increasing numbers within the level, trying to move as quickly as possible from one side to the other. It is a very basic game but it manages, somehow, to keep us rather glued to the controller to try to improve the endurance times, once we enter the mechanism.
12 achievements totaling 1000 points demonstrate a rather compact distribution of rewards for Castle Crashers Remastered. In fact, it seems that the team has simply transferred the same scheme as the achievements present in the original version, but this time with a loot of 1000 points instead of 200. As a result, the objectives from before are now much richer and are unlocked especially by advancing in the Campaign and obtaining particular performances in the levels.
The simple and clean design, in line with the classic trait of the productions designed for the Flash platform, makes the 1080p definition increase made on this remastered edition less obvious, despite the developers having changed the assets using textures at quadruple resolution compared to the original ones.
On the other hand, such a stylized graphic goes beyond any historical context and it is also understandable that The Behemoth has decided not to put a hand to the entire imaginary studied for Castle Crashers to forcefully insert additional graphic elements to justify a technological evolution of which the game essentially does not need. Much more important and sensitive is the increase in general fluidity that brings the game to 60 frames per second, an element that in an action game of this shape is pleasant and effective also in terms of playability. The intentionally simple graphic layout, almost crude in several respects, is in short strictly inherent to the experience of Castle Crashers but the idea remains that the team has made a very minimum effort to reproduce their greatest success on Xbox One, considering that the official price is then 14,99 euros, excluding the advantageous conditions offered to owners of the original who could download the Remastered version for free until 20 September and at the reduced price of 4,99 euros thereafter. Always excellent and prompt response to commands, which together with the increase in frame rate makes the action even more enjoyable, while there are no particular variations on the audio sector which remains the usual, crazy accompaniment worthy of this setting.
The original punk scream that 7 years ago led the charge of indies on Xbox in the first Summer of Arcade has clearly downsized, now that productions of this type are the daily bread of consoles, but removed the irreverent impact what remains is just a nice game. Castle Crashers Remastered actually proves to be a fairly minimal adaptation work, but on the other hand it enhances the fundamental goodness of The Behemoth game, still current and enjoyable regardless of the amount of competitors and alternatives now on the market. The full price can therefore be justified for those who have never played Castle Crashers and want a classic and at the same time bizarre and unpredictable action, for others this operation makes much less sense, although the cost for the owners of the original is really derisory.
- Simple and irresistible action
- Great variety of situations
- Played in multiplayer it earns in fun
- Basic remastering operation
- Less balanced if faced in single