Castle Pals is the latest indie platforming port brought to you by perennial easy platinum publishers Ratalaika Games. This time round it concerns Kylee and Owen who one night stumble across the very creepy and dark looking Castle Pookapick. They decide to venture in and attempt to uncover its secrets. Back when i was younger my adventuring rarely took me into the depths of an ancient castle so Castle Pals maybe that experience you never had as a child.
You play as either Kylee or Owen across several levels that suit each characters play style. You don’t get a choice of who to start a level with but each level is set up to make the most of your character’s abilities. Kylee resembles a kickboxer so her special skills are of the punching and kicking kind whilst Owen wears a propeller hat which conveniently is able to propel yourself through a level. Kylee’s levels tend to be more fighting based, more enemies to hit and less travelling. Owen’s levels require quite a lot of use of his propeller hat, he can beat enemies too by jumping on their head. Effectively both characters take it in turns to move through the castle levels in Castle Pals. There are 3 acts, each containing 10 levels, within these levels are 3 gems that need to be collected, collecting these opens up a further 10 levels to play with. Be aware that Castle Pals has several checkpoints throughout the levels, usually you won’t need them but you will feel very frustrated should you be close to the next checkpoint and you die.
Generally, these platforming ports contain many levels but most of them are very short and that’s the case with Castle Pals. The early levels only take a matter of minutes to clear requiring not a great deal of effort from yourself. Castle Pals has many of the usual obstacles you would expect from a platformer, spikes, lasers, locked doors, moving platforms etc. Enemies are fairly easy to bypass, either hit them, jump on them or past them. There are gold medals to achieve on each level depending on how quickly and efficiently you manage to get through them. There’s no bonus or collectible that comes with these medals so it’s really a case of whether you’re a perfectionist or not. Chances are you won’t go back to replay a level in Castle Pals.
Castle Pals is a very simple game to play, you jump and hit or fly and land. The puzzles are not particularly taxing, usually just a case of moving a block to fall onto a switch which in turn opens a door, it becomes a little repetitive after you’ve done this several times. There were a few issues in regards to hitting enemies, what appeared to be a clean hit wouldn’t register and you end up getting hit because you’re so close. Additionally what appeared to be your character reaching the end of a platform would end up with you falling to your death, not ideal. It’s something that seems to be present in several indie platformers, they are not pixel perfect in that sense.
Graphically Castle Pals is another platforming throwback to a simpler age. The colour scheme is bold whilst the characters are cute little sprites running and flying across the screen. Enemies are not particularly memorable and nor are the worlds you are adventuring in. Audio again is another throwback to nostalgia, very simple nostalgia. There are a few sound effects thrown in whilst the background music is fairly standard fare. Explosions look and sound suitably explosive but there’s not a great deal of thought gone into this area in Castle Pals.
Castle Pals is a reasonable platformer offering a simple unchallenging experience. If you’re looking for an easy introductory game into the 80s/90s platformers then there are a couple of hours in Castle Pals. Unfortunately, if you are looking for something more modern and more challenging with replay value then Castle Pals lacks in those areas. Exploring ancient castles should be more fun than this, but there’s a possibility you might enjoy the simplicity of Castle Pals.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 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 Pals Review
Gameplay - 5/10
Graphics - 5/10
Sound - 5/10
Replay Value - 4/10
Castle Pals is a reasonable platformer offering a simple unchallenging experience. If you’re looking for an easy introductory game into the 80s/90s platformers then there are a couple of hours in Castle Pals.