Playing Castle Crashers on the Switch is the sweetest taste of nostalgia. The heavy presence of fart jokes, gaudy enemy design and hyper-speed combat might feel a little overzealous, but even at a decade old, the side scrolling bizarro adventure from The Behemoth still holds up just as great as it did back on the Xbox 360.
But don’t get me misconstrued – Castle Crashers is still great, but this is still the same Remastered Edition that’s been released on um-teen consoles over the past few years. That being said, can you think of a better console than the Switch to play such a fantastic beat ’em up on? And whether that’s with up to four players locally or with strangers or friends online, Castle Crashers is a game that’s best spent in company. You can go through it completely solo, it’s just nowhere near as fun – nothing beats flipping a Joy Con on its side, swinging it to a friend and taking on armies of bad guys together.
Castle Crashers is hectic madness, but its this obscure silliness that makes it the unique, enjoyable experience it is. While not much has changed over the past ten years, the side scrolling meat-and-potatoes stuff with its lite-RPG elements still feel great. Combat is easy to get to grips with – simple hack-and-slash button mashing, with plenty of combos, unlockable weapons and various traits and spells to unlock and master, as well as items to purchase and find.
Button bashing grunts isn’t an issue, purely because the enemy variation is so commendable. As well as endless amounts of foot soldiers, from sword swinging bears and magic shooting lava monsters, Castle Crashers almost continuous flow of fantastic boss fights keeps the game exciting. Creepy dragons with sock puppet hands, lava spewing volcanoes, giant river monsters – each one has a different way of being defeated, each one fun and almost entirely silly.
It’s this simple fluidity that makes the game so gratifying. Defeating these monsters is often tough, yet its satisfying and entirely enjoyable to learn the quirks of each of these combatants and in the end, come out on top.
And fighting these puppet dragons means traversing some really weird and varied environments. While the game keeps you on a pretty limited track, no two levels are alike, from exploring forests and crashing weddings, to taking the fight to alien spaceships, Castle Crashers is as obtuse as it could possibly be. It’s probably one of the reasons that it never feels like it gets old; you can smack enemies all day, but it’s still so much fun hours later.
The games campaign on a single run through takes around six to seven hours to complete, but there’s plenty of hidden stuff to go back for, as well as loads of characters to unlock. There’s also an arena mode, where you can take on waves of enemies alone or with a friend and also the Back off Barbarian mini game. Back off Barbarian is an entirely forgettable mode, where you avoid enemies on an isometric board but your controls are mixed up, leaving you to rely on your speed at working out the way your controls have been messed with. It’s fast paced, fun in short bursts but unlikely to warrant much attention, and outside of the scoreboard, you’ll likely try it once and never visit again.
It’s strange to think a game like this would feel so fresh so long after its initial release, but Castle Crashers feels as necessary as it ever did. Very few games can re-release so long after their initial incarnation and still feel so relevant. It’s mostly down to how great it is as a multiplayer game. Leveling up your knights solo can be daunting, especially when you start to unlock more and more, so bringing a friend in who’s being playing to to help you further your progress is not only recommended but honestly a must (and yes, the Switch does support multiple profiles). The game’s much better with company, not only is it more fun, but the difficulty curve can be unforgiving and checkpoints can be few and far between, leading to some grinding, especially for solo players sometimes.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s close, but it’s not perfect. The game runs smoothly in both handheld and definitely doesn’t struggle docked, but I did have a little trouble with lag with online play. It is however early doors, so I’m sure problems like this will be ironed out pretty quickly.
These very few issues aside, the Switch maybe the best incarnation of this Behemoth’s classic. Maybe I’m biased, I clearly have a soft spot for Castle Crashers, the same way I have for titles like Cuphead, but at nearly ten years old, this still feels and plays as brilliantly as it did back then.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Castle Crashers Remastered Review
Gameplay - 9/10
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Replay Value - 9/10
User Review( votes)
The bonkers Beat-‘Em-Up still feels wonderful to play nearly ten years on.