Castle Crashers Remastered Switch Review


Bashing mashing crashing masterpiece in a brand new can

Back in 2008 a quirky little game made by some people from a flash animation website made a game. What Dan Paladin and Tom Fulp of Newgrounds fame had made was a shining phoenix to the beat ’em up genre and arguably the best beat ’em up ever.

Fast forward 11 years and this genre defining game has finally made its way to a Nintendo console and marks the first time you can take Castle Crashers handheld with Castle Crashers Remastered, featuring textures 5 times the size of the original game, 60fps, improvements to gameplay and a new game mode Back Off Barbarian. But is this titan of a beat ’em up still as relevant and most importantly fun today?

Best boss ever!

As a quick recap Castle Crashers is a zany 2D beat ’em up where you set out on an epic quest full of many swords, magic, leveling up, floating animal head helpers, haphazard enemies, massively varied level design and fighting your comrades (when playing multiplayer) to get to kiss one of four kidnapped princesses.

Camel spit should do more damage.

After my initial reservations it’s safe to say the madcap cartoon violence is just as fun today as 11 years ago even if it doesn’t quite feel as special as then. The gameplay is frantic and fluid and even though what you are doing is a little repetitive as you only really have a light, heavy and magic attack, there’s enough variation in everything else to never get bored.

Run away and slowly arrow the damage away.

The magic isn’t quite there playing Castle Crashers nowadays but part of that may have been playing through the clearly meant for multiplayer campaign by my lonesome. Especially as previously I had only ever played multiplayer, with 2/3 people striking a perfect balance between difficulty, chaoticness and fun in this 4 player game. This didn’t stop time flying by in a blink of an eye and being sad as a panda that’s sat on its baby when I had to stop playing. 

Eat your bread to grow big and strong.

Back off barbarian is a new game mode for the remastered version where you’re on a grid and each button corresponds to a different colour (the Xbox colour scheme) push a button to land on an arrow and move while avoiding CPU characters trying to squish you. It seems a fun distraction to play once or twice but I couldn’t get my head around the colours being so different to anything I’m used to.

If only the colours were SNES based.

This remaster isn’t perfect as pretty much any negative about the original is still here. There are still moments where getting caught by one enemy attack means you’ll unavoidably get hit by a series of attacks, this can deal vast damage when fighting a boss. Holding forward for ages to run feels archaic and when playing single player you’d murder a mongoose for a dodge roll. 

Unavoidable eye laser doom.

Castle Crashers features a very odd saving mechanic. Most levels are made of a few stages, each being a point on the map. If you die you get thrown back to the overworld now you can enter the stage you died on. But even though the game saves if you turn it off, when you reload you need to replay from the beginning of the cluster of stages. The game only saves your stage progress when it sends you back to the overworld itself.

The worst of the problems is that the developers The Behemoth weren’t ready for the way Nintendo’s online infrastructure works resulting in a mixed bag of online play. Sometimes it’ll be almost flawless, sometimes it’ll be extremely choppy even when playing with just one person you can play other games no problem with, let alone 4 randoms. The Behemoth are aware of the problem and are working on it so hopefully a patch will come soon to fix it and at least they are fixing it rather than removing online all together on Switch as other devs have with other games.

You might see this a lot if you play online.

The higher resolution textures look stunning, with each enemy and background being a joy to behold. The hand drawn style graphics truly are timeless and I bet that you’d be able to come to Castle Crashers in another 11 years and still say how amazing it looks.

Castle Crashers features a unique soundtrack as the tracks were written by all different people giving a massively varied feel and the sound effects aren’t head blowingly incredible but they are quite good with clashes and squishes.

POWER!

With 31 playable characters each with their own individual RPG style level, needing to beat the 5 or so hour game at least 13 times to unlock them all, a kagillion different weapons to use and an insane difficulty mode as new game +, Castle Crashers Remastered has ludicrous replay value. On the other hand, every character plays pretty much the same other than wielding different types of magic. On the other foot, you can level your stats as you please creating all different builds for characters. Age has not diminished the fun to be had and this now classic game looks beautiful on Nintendo’s handheld console. Having Castle Crashers in my pocket (if you own pockets big enough) is something I will enjoy forever, is completely worth replaying and a must have if you like beat ’em ups and have never experienced the farcical joy that is Castle Crashers.

I seem to be the only person to have completed the game on Switch so far.

A huge thank you to The Behemoth for providing the review code. Castle Crashers Remastered is available on the eShop for $14.99 on the 17th September.

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