Genre: Beat ’em Up
Developed by: The Behemoth
Published by: The Behemoth
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Windows, Xbox One, PS4, Switch
Feeling Like: System Crash
Henry’s Brain: What’s up, pup?
Henry: I’m stumped on what to write about for Castle Crashers.
Henry’s Brain: No problem! As usual, the best way is to talk it out, er, type it out with me, your brain.
Henry: I don’t even know where to being. I’m also stumped as to why I’m stumped! I’m in the midst of an absolute gaming high. I’m so excited about it that I can barely fall asleep.
Henry’s Brain: Whoa, whoa! Before we elaborate on number 306, I’m gonna need some more info here. What’s got you so pumped?
Henry: Well, Eric and I just beat an insanely difficult mutation on Starcraft 2. We’d attempted it at least 25 times and when we finally won I couldn’t contain my glee. I was loud. Too loud. I seriously haven’t been that excited about beating something in a game since Kyla, Dave O and I beat Moraggo in Dungeon Defenders. If I had a heart condition, I’d be very concerned with my well-being.
Henry’s Brain: Nice. Anything else?
Henry: The Final Fantasy 7 Remake is everything I wanted and more. You’ll read more about it in the Top 10 of 2020 and if you don’t, then 2020 will be the greatest year of my gaming life.
Henry’s Brain: That’s amazing! Is it just these two experiences are completely overwhelming any memory of Castle Crashers?
Henry: A bit, but it’s more that I don’t have a ton of lingering memories of Castle Crashers. I clearly liked it more than 194 other games but I feel a bit guilty in that I’m going to have a hard time justifying why.
Henry’s Brain: You don’t have to justify squat. It’s your list, and barely anybody is going to read this anyway. So calm down.
Henry: Phew, thanks brain!
Henry’s Brain: My pleasure. Man, the art style above is awesome. How could you not think of anything to say?
Henry: That’s why this is crazy! The art is astounding, filled with smooth animations, vibrant colors and a great sense of style. I love the eyes bugging out of the boss above. I distinctly remember the design was so good that, despite four players simultaneously fighting magical monsters everywhere, I never lost sight of my character on screen. And the framerate was silky smooth.
Henry’s Brain: Hey, there you go! That’s a good start. Did you indulge in any multiplayer?
Henry: Absolutely, but I can’t remember with whom. Maybe some Neverblue guys, maybe Jeff P & Dobbo. Regardless, it was a party and I always like when you can level anything up in a game. Balancing our team was a lot of fun, though I remember going for a magic build that seemed to result in me running away a lot.
Henry’s Brain: See, you don’t need me at all.
Henry: Oh, and the soundtrack is catchy as hell. I still have a few selections from the soundtrack on my permanent playlist. I don’t necessarily have a big moment, or a single example as to how the music tied into my enjoyment, but it’s definitely a reason.
Henry’s Brain: Do you think a game like this could catch on today?
Henry: I mean that’s part of the issue. We see so many games with the spirit of Castle Crashers in modern times. In 2008 it was certainly novel to have an independent publisher make a game that was far cheaper than regular retail price AND could be entirely downloaded. I’m not confident it was the first to do so, I don’t even think it’s well known for it, but I do know the year 2008 was the start of the Summer of Arcade really brought this kind of game to the forefront. You’ll find at least one title from every year they did the Summer of Arcade on the 500, including Braid, Castle Crashers, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 and Bastion.
Henry’s Brain: The Summer of Arcade experiment clearly worked then. Do you attribute the success to Castle Crashers alone?
Henry: It certainly had an impact. It came out the first year they did it, and was the most popular title out of the five. Multiplayer helped tremendously. This was one of the main selling points of the XBox 360 for the next six years, every owner of the platform had the Summer of Arcade to look forward to.
Henry’s Brain: Well, I think that’s pretty good! You may not have highlighted your own personal thoughts on the game itself, but I think you covered a good amount of ground.
Henry: I still feel like I owe it to Castle Crashers to hype it up more. I’ll end by saying that if I saw it at a LAN, or a party, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to pick up a controller. The world is filled with dangerous animals that have googily cartoon eyes and it’s a Beat ’em Up. That’s a winner in my books, any day.