Review – Castle Crashers Remastered

When I heard that Castle Crashers was being ported to the Nintendo Switch, my immediate thought was, “YAS!”. But it was my less euphoric second thought that was, “How has a game as good as Castle Crashers not been ported to the Switch already?” Thankfully, my first thought was 100% justified while my second thought no longer matters, because we now have Castle Crashers on the Switch!

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Party like it’s 2008!

Independent San Diego based developer, The Behemoth, is most well-known for Alien Hominid (2004) and Castle Crashers (2008). They have had other games since, but Castle Crashers will always be first in my mind when I hear their name. It will also always have a place in my heart. I married my wife in 2008, and into a family with a then-nine and an eleven-year-old. Playing couch co-op with my kids was a way that we bonded and just had fun. Fast forward to today and, with a now three and eleven-year-old, Castle Crashers has come back home again. It has remained everything that I remember but now on the console it has always belonged on. A game to enjoy again, with my next gen of kids, on a console for the couch or for the car ride.

If this is your first time with Castle Crashers, then the story is simple. You are a knight in a kingdom that is invaded by a sorcerer who steals the king’s crystal power stone and the princesses. You, and up to three friends, set out to save the princesses and defeat the sorcerer. Like your favorite games of yesteryear, simplicity is king.

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Mash, mash, mash, mash, move, mash, mash, block, mash, mash.

Castle Crashers plays very much to how it did on the Xbox 360 way back in 2008, but now at a beautiful 60fps. It is a cartoon-style 2D beat ‘em up hack-n-slash. The maps are all linear, going from start to end fighting hordes of enemies, and most of your gameplay will be spent spamming a light and heavy attack with your primary weapon. You’ll also have access to a bow or some bombs which can help at certain times, but take far more practice than just jumping in the air and hitting everyone. Magic is your final form of combat and is also the path I often take. Mashing X and Y is the bread and butter of Castle Crashers, but nothing beats shooting out a massive blast of lightning and hitting every enemy in your path, or freezing everyone in their place.

As you play, you level up your character and unlock weapon combos like running and then leaping with your sword in a dive attack, or the more practical jumping in the air and mashing the light attack to spin all around. Leveling up also rewards you points to spend on upgrading your character with light RPG mechanics. You can upgrade your attack, defense, agility and magic, but when I say light, I mean light. I would simply choose one and buff it all the way up before focusing on any of the others.

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Castle Crasher on Switch is GOAT.

Leveling your character is fast enough to a point that it never feels like you are grinding to hit a certain level with your knight to pass a certain point. Every couple of minutes, your knight will level up after landing enough hits on his enemies. This also makes it easy to swap between characters to test them out, or to swap to previously locked or hidden characters.

Throughout your adventure, you will come across many weapon upgrades that can also be used to give you a slight buff to a specific stat, the same happening when finding pets around the world. Some animals will increase your stats like the weapons, while others will perform a function like giving you extra XP or having a chance to find food in a nearby tree. This adds a wrinkle to the gameplay in general: being able to constantly change out weapons and pets to increase a variety of skills or bonuses at your leisure. This simple act of gaining, unlocking, and swapping characters and content to experience the game differently adds a surprisingly amount of meat to what is essentially a beat ‘em up experience.

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Your first of many.. many… many pets.

Castle Crashers Remastered can be enjoyed in single player but, as with the original, it is best with friends. And on the Switch, with support for single joycons, it is that much easier to enjoy it with one. Not only does this allow you to split up the enemies as they work to out flank you, but it also helps when your friend is able to resuscitate your unconscious body on the battlefield. Playing with friends will, however, increase the damage needed to down enemies. If, for some reason, your friend is unable to make his way to your couch, Castle Crashers is just as easy to jump into online.

If I had to ding Castle Crashers, I would do so in two areas. One ding against it is the damage sponginess of enemies which, as I said earlier, is only more-so once you add other players. Boss fights will often be you running around, waiting for the boss to open a window you are able to strike. You’ll land a handful of blows before the window closes and then repeat. The length of which can take more time than it took to get to the boss to begin with. Ding number two would be respawn points that can set you back a good ways in your progress for that level, resulting in you having to fight your way all the way back to where you fell. But both issues are purely preferences of a player and not actual faults.

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I’ll do anything for love, but I won’t do that.

Castle Crashers Remastered is as delightful as I remember from my Summer of Arcade days. If you enjoyed it then, you’ll love it now. The HD visuals of the hand drawn cartoon style graphics improve greatly what has already aged extremely well, also running at a smooth 60fps. I had a blast playing it eleven years ago with my children, and I am having a blast playing it with them again… for the very first time.

 

Graphics: 9.0

Beautiful hand-drawn cartoon style makes this a joy to watch for both young and old, and only more so now in HD

Gameplay: 8.0

Enjoyable solo but better with friends, Switch is a natural fit. Use of single joycons allows you to break into couch co-op no matter where you are at.

Sound: 8.0

A constant soundtrack playing and effects tossed in for weapons, objects, and an occasional damsel in distress.

Fun Factor: 9.0

Just as it was in 2008, Castle Crashers is an extremely enjoyable time where you can turn off your brain and just have some fun with some friends and family.

Final Verdict: 8.5

Castle Crashers Remastered is available now on Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Castle Crashers Remastered was provided by the publisher.

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