Castle Crashers cover art. The four main protagonists are pictured, each equipped with different in-game weaponry.
Microsoft Game Studios (Xbox 360)
Sony Computer Entertainment (PlayStation 3)
|Release date(s)||Xbox 360
August 27, 2008
September 26, 2012
|Genre(s)||Beat 'em up, RPG, Action|
Castle Crashers is a 2D beat 'em up video game independently developed by The Behemoth and published by Microsoft Game Studios. It features music created by members of Newgrounds. The Xbox 360 version was released on August 27, 2008 via Xbox Live Arcade as part of the Xbox Live Summer of Arcade. The PlayStation 3 version was released in North America on August 31, 2010 and November 3, 2010 in Europe via the PlayStation Network. A Microsoft Windows version, exclusive to Steam, was announced on August 16, 2012. The game is set in a fictional medieval universe in which a dark wizard steals a mystical gem and captures four princesses. Four knights are charged by the king to rescue the princesses, recover the jewel, and bring the wizard to justice.
Castle Crashers was well received by critics on all platforms on which it was released. The Xbox 360 version holds a score of 82.73% at GameRankings and 82/100 at Metacritic, while the PlayStation 3 version averages 88.67% and 85/100 at the same sites. The PC version holds a score of 7.9 on Metacritic, indicating generally favorable reviews. The game was a commercial success, and the Xbox 360 version has sold over 2.6 million copies alone as of year-end 2011. The PlayStation 3 version has also done well, moving over 181,000 units as of December 2010.
Castle Crashers is a side-scrolling beat-em-up that incorporates a small number of role-playing video game elements. After selecting a character, the player then selects a starting stage through an overworld map. After completing a stage, the player has the choice to revisit it or to move to another stage. The map also displays shops where the player character can buy items and weaponry using coins gained from defeated foes. Arena stages can be unlocked where the player character can take on challenges to unlock additional characters.
Castle Crashers supports cooperative gameplay for up to four players, either locally or online. The game progression in terms of what stages are unlocked is defined by the player who is furthest along, although some levels require all players to have unlocked them before proceeding to them; however, each player character will gain experience points and acquire wealth, weapons, and animal orbs independently as they progress with the rest of the party. In each stage, the player can use melee and combination attacks. Each character has a unique magical ability in order to defeat foes and a health meter that, if drained from enemy attacks, will cause the character to fall in battle. In single player mode, this ends the stage; however, in cooperative multiplayer other players may attempt to revive the downed character.
Characters gain experience points by damaging foes which allow the character to level up. Each level gained allows the player to allocate points towards the character's four basic combat attributes. Certain level advances also grant new combination attacks. Progress is tracked for each of the playable characters separately. The character's magic level is also tracked by a meter and regenerates over time. Numerous weapons can be found in the game, each that have various effects to the character's attributes when equipped. The player can find animal companions for their character that may assist in battle, improve the character's attributes, or provide another special ability such as increased treasure earned from defeated foes. Each version of the game features two minigames. In Arena, the first minigame, player characters attempt to survive through several waves of enemies, or fight each other. This minigame is available on all versions. The Xbox 360, Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows versions feature All You Can Quaff, a button-mashing contest between all characters to attempt to eat as much food as possible. The PlayStation 3 version features a Volleyball minigame for up to four players and four AI characters.
Castle Crashers is set in a fictional medieval universe. It begins with four knights attending a party in a king's castle. During the party a dark wizard arrives, stealing a floating mystical gem and capturing four princesses. The king sends the four knights to retrieve the gem, rescue his daughters, and bring the wizard to justice. The four knights encounter several enemies along the way, including other knights, multiple encounters with a cyclops, a giant "cat-fish", and alien invaders.
As the knights progress they succeed in rescuing the princesses, and ultimately the journey culminates in a final showdown with the wizard. The knights emerge victorious from the confrontation, having defeated the dark wizard, rescuing all of the king's daughters, and recovering the mystical gem. The knights then ride the reclaimed gem through several empty battlefields on their trip back to the castle. At the castle the king brings one of his daughters for one of the knights to kiss, her face veiled.
Development and marketing
Castle Crashers was first revealed on July 14, 2005 at the San Diego Comic-Con International; however, the game did not receive its title until 2006 Comic-Con, when it was announced for Xbox Live Arcade. Though the original Comic-Con 2005 demo was shown running on a Nintendo GameCube, no mention has been made of a release on a Nintendo-based platform. It was released for the Xbox 360 on August 27, 2008. On July 23, 2009 The Behemoth announced that Castle Crashers would be coming to the PlayStation Network. The game was released on the PlayStation 3 in North America on August 31, 2010, and in Europe on November 3, 2010. A Microsoft Windows version exclusive to Steam was announced on August 16, 2012.
The game's art style was developed by The Behemoth's Lead Artist Dan Paladin. As the team created new locales and characters, placeholder art was used as a template for look, size and scale of the final art. Paladin drew multiple partial renditions of a game asset, then selected one for finalization. Although Paladin was the primary source for much of the art, programmer Tom Fulp assisted with the game's art, creating some of the minion creatures for boss characters. Paladin cited River City Ransom as his primary inspiration for the game's art style, noting the character's expressions when damaged as a particular point of influence. Fulp added that several beat 'em ups from the 1980s and 90s influenced the game, such as Guardian Heroes, Final Fight and Double Dragon. Much of the music for the game was created by Newgrounds users, with The Behemoth contracting over twenty individuals for their tracks. Paladin himself scored two of the tracks in the game. The soundtrack was made available for free on September 1, 2008 via the Newgrounds website.
The Xbox 360 version of the game features four downloadable content packs. On January 14, 2009, the King Pack downloadable content was released and added two characters, another animal orb and three weapons. On August 26, 2009 a second downloadable content pack known as the Necromantic Pack was released and further added two characters, one animal orb and two weapons, as well as a picture pack for Xbox Live profiles. Both packs are included as part of the full game on the PlayStation 3 version of Castle Crashers. Additionally, the title character from The Behemoth's previous title, Alien Hominid, is available to play on the Xbox 360 for those who have purchased Alien Hominid HD. As The Behemoth had no way of telling whether an individual had purchased the PlayStation 2 version of Alien Hominid, the character was included in the PS3 version free of charge. Writing on their blog, the developers explained "we are going to attempt what is the most fair and make the logical assumption that by this point everyone has PS2 Alien Hominid, right?" The Behemoth announced A Pink Knight Pack, which features a Pink Knight, an unlockable character in the Xbox Live Arcade version of Super Meat Boy, and five new weapons on February 2, 2011. It was released for the PlayStation 3 on February 8, 2011, with a release on the Xbox 360 on August 27, 2011 along with the Blacksmith Pack which adds one additional character and five new weapons. All proceeds from the content will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. If Xbox 360 players own both Castle Crashers and Behemoth's follow-up title, BattleBlock Theater, players can unlock Hatty Hattington, a new orb and three new weapons, as well as Castle Crashers content in BattleBlock Theater.
Castle Crashers was well received on both platforms. GameRankings reports an 82.73% aggregate score on the Xbox 360, while the PlayStation 3 averaging an 86.67%. Metacritic reports similar scores, with 82/100 on the Xbox 360 and 85/100 for the PlayStation 3. It has been a commercial success, with the Xbox 360 version selling over two million copies on the Xbox 360 alone as of year-end 2010. 2011's totals were over 2.6 million on Xbox Live Arcade alone. The PlayStation 3 version has also done well, moving over 181,000 in 2010. IGN editor Cam Shea ranked it third on his top 10 list of Xbox Live Arcade games. He praised it for being both a call-back to a much-loved genre and a great piece of game design. Additionally in a September 2010 ranking, IGN listed Castle Crashers fifth in their top twenty-five Xbox Live Arcade titles of all time. It was voted 2008 Best Game of the Year at the Xbox Live Arcade Awards. Castle Crashers was also Xbox Live Arcade's best-selling title of 2008. Gaming Target's staff named the game as one of their "40 Games We'll Still Be Playing From 2008."
Reviewers universally praised the unique art style of Castle Crashers. GameSpot's Don Francis noted that the "crisp art design really makes the game shine." 1UP.com's Andrew Hayward noted that the game's hand-drawn characters, effects, and scenery make the game "shine." Dan Whitehead of Eurogamer stated the game's art was more detailed and polished than The Behemoth's previous title, Alien Hominid. The game's humor was generally lauded by reviewers. Writing for Gaming Target, Troy Matsumiya stated the game was "bigger and funnier" than Alien Hominid. Francis and IGN's Hilary Goldstein also praised the game's humor. The gameplay also received high marks from reviewers. GameTrailers' staff stated that the game has "a deceptive simplicity that sucks you right in." Goldstein praised the simplistic gameplay, and said the game was a modern throwback to classic beat 'em ups. He additionally noted the high replay value, and cited the game's four player multiplayer and number of unlockables as reasons to continually play the game.
Several reviewers expressed frustration in regards to multiplayer connection issues. However, these were resolved in a later title update to the game. Francis stated that the connection issues "handicap the multiplayer experience." "Despite trying all day and night on launch day, we were only able to get a couple of two-player games going for a couple of levels before the connections were lost" stated Whitehead. Hayward also reported slight connectivity issues in the PlayStation 3 version. The PlayStation 3 version of the game also received criticism from GameSpot's Carolyn Petit for its additional Volleyball game mode, who described it simply as "lousy."
Some users experienced problems finding available online games, as well as their Xbox 360 sometimes freezing when attempting to join an Xbox Live game, or while already in a game. "There are certain network settings," said Paladin, "where, if you're in a very specific network environment, it won't work with another person's connection and that's what's happening. But that's something we're already addressing by working with Microsoft to get a patch out as fast as possible." In addition to multiplayer problems, the game could also occasionally suffer from corrupted save files, causing players to lose character progress. In an interview with Joystiq, Tom Fulp and Dan Paladin of the Behemoth stated that they were working with Microsoft to get a patch released as soon as possible in order to fix the issues. A patch for the game was released on December 24, 2008 fixing glitches and exploits as well as resolving networking issues that were experienced at the game's launch. Similar networking problems have also been reported for the PlayStation 3 version of the game. The PlayStation 3 version of the game only allows one profile to be signed in per console, with additional players being unable to use their own progress rather than of the profile in use.
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