Castle Crashers Remastered Review – Recastled

Another remastered game, another remastered review! I’ve resurrected my original review from 2008, complete with an overhaul and overview of the “remastered” material.

01

Developer: The Behemoth
Publisher: The Behemoth
Format: PC (TBA), Xbox One (reviewed)
Released: September 9, 2015
Copy supplied by publisher

Growing up, I was always a huge fan of the side-scrolling beat-’em-up. The likes of Final Fight, Golden Axe and Streets of Rage enjoy revered places in my memory, and it’s a love that has continued in the modern day with my predilection for hack-n’-slash action games. Still, as much as I’ll spend hours with Dynasty Warriors, I’ve always got time for a game about smashing up thugs with friends until blinking arrows let us move to the next screen.

Castle Crashers was a return to the glory days of the beat-’em-up when it first hit Xbox Live in 2008. A sleek and cartoony take on a classic, then-forgotten genre. With a range of characters to choose from (initially four, but six in Remastered with yet more to unlock), up to four players tackle over twenty levels of violence in order to rescue princesses from a rogue’s gallery of amusing villains.

The wit and charm of The Behemoth’s creations are all evident in Castle Crashers. From the opening party full of knights throwing devil horns to gentle medieval music, to the utterly amazing end sequence (which, if you’ve never seen before, is pure delirious joy), Castle Crashers is an endearing, sometimes hilarious experience full of visual gags and unapologetic silliness that’s helped along by Dan Paladin’s terrific art and animation.

The hacking and clashing action is almost superb. Almost.

I say “almost” because it can be difficult to line up your attacks thanks to the marriage of a chaotic art style with precise hitboxes. It’s tricky, but once you get a hold of your enemies and start hacking off heads, it’s brilliant fun that threatens to cripple one’s fingers.

02

Every character plays more or less identically, with the same combos and basic attacks. Each one has its own magic power, however, setting it apart from the others. From poison clouds to devastating rainbows, each spell behaves the same but has a unique look and a few special properties. There are also a ton of weapons and animal familiars to unlock, boosting a range of passive abilities.

Whatever warrior you choose, you’ll be in for a substantial quest. Not only does the main game last for over twenty levels, you can collect experience points and train your characters up to level 99, allocating skill points to boost attack, magic, defense and agility, while earning new combos and spells. EXP fiends will have their work cut out of them.

While Castle Crashers retains all the good of the old-school brawler, it also retains everything that makes them frustrating. Enemies, for example, will be more than happy to attack you from both sides, and they spam their projectile attacks to almost farcical levels at times. This can be incredibly annoying, especially if you’re playing solo. Of course, adding between two and three allies to the mix evens the odds considerably, and this is where Castle Crashers truly comes to life.

As already mentioned, up to four people can team up, which makes for a considerably different experience. With four friends on screen, an already chaotic game becomes overwhelming anarchy, and for the vast majority of the game you won’t even know what’s happening. Are you winning? Are you getting your arse kicked? You barely know, and you barely care, because you’re having too much fun to make sense of the fireballs and bodies flying around the screen.

05

All the memories of co-operative beat-’em-ups come flooding back — from having to apologize when you accidentally take a health item someone sorely needed, to the inevitable (and wonderfully stereotypical) moments where allies have to turn on each other to get the girl. Despite the co-op, there is a competitive element to each round of Castle Crashers, but it’s such a fun and friendly competition that nobody really minds losing.

And that right there is Castle Crashers‘ greatest weapon – the ability to make you not care. Even if you lose your temper at being shot to pieces by a bunch of cheap archers, you’ll soon forget about it and laugh at a puerile poop joke, or go beat up the Barbarian Boss again to feel good about yourself. Castle Crashers refuses to take itself seriously, and if you dare try to do so yourself, you’ll look and feel ridiculous.

The soundtrack is one of the best musical collection around, even seven years after its initial launch. It bursts with memorable and infectious tunes (the happy sound of the Forest Entrance level is a personal favorite) culled from a number of indie artists. Despite the disparate tunes, they all seem to form a cohesive sound, linked in their exuberant desire to go completely over the top.

04

Visually, Castle Crashers Remastered is hard to tell apart from its original release, mainly because it always looked damn good. It’s hard to improve upon the crisp visual quality of Crashers‘ cartoon artwork, though it proudly runs at 60fps as you might expect, while texture sizes have been given a significant boost to create a bolder look.

The online mode runs pretty well, especially given how notoriously iffy it was in 2008. For the most part, I’ve been having a smooth online experience, though there has been notable lag in certain areas, especially when going up against a boss with a full four-player roster.

A new mode, Back Off Barbarian, adds a little extra flavor to the package. It’s a sort of board game, where you must move your character around a grid by pressing the correct colored buttons while avoiding enemies. Due to the character’s directional movement being governed by colors and not by the actual directional input, it’s a strangely challenging little game that, while not providing enough depth to be worth playing much, makes for a decent little distraction.

Sadly, BOB fully replaces the other multiplayer minigame, All You Can Quaff. While it was a dumb button-mashing affair, it had its own brand of charm. I would rather have had both these minigames rather than one replace the other. It’s a small complaint, since these extras are soi disposable, but I do missing quaffing.

03

Perhaps the best part of the whole game, though, is that if you already own the original game, it’ll be completely free! For newcomers, this is a game I cannot recommend highly enough, but the fact I don’t have the do the usual “Is it worth it if you already have it?” routine that normally accompanies these “remaster” reviews is just fantastic. That alone makes it the best double dip I’ve played in this past two years of rerelease mania.

Castle Crashers Remastered is every bit was wonderful as it was the first time around. Bright, cheerful, packed with things to do, and rocking some classic brawler action, it looks as beautiful as ever and there’s no excuse not to give it a look. It’s just as fresh as it was back in the day, and a 100% discount for prior players is friggin’ perfect.

9.5/10
Superb

Francis
Guest
Francis

My main complaint with the game was that the enemies had too much health and beating them ending up becoming a chore.

snrub
Guest
snrub

You think that’s a chore today at work i had to sweep outside…. I WORK AT A SCRAP YARD.

iorek byrnison
Guest
iorek byrnison

is this memes?

Jonathan Guidry
Guest
Jonathan Guidry

at first I thought you said crap yard…then I realized it was the weed.

Milestone_RP
Guest
Milestone_RP
…why did this have to be “remastered”? Oh yah, no backwards compatibility, again. At least The Behemoth are classy, classy people, and don’t make us pay for it over again. That is literally the only bright spot in this. Still, using “remastered” for Castle Crashers is something that leaves an awful taste in my mouth. It denotes that this is a game that ever needed to be overhauled at all, which it didn’t. Castle Crashers was great. Still is. Then again, the way OTHER companies have been using the word “remastered” combined with zero effort ports, it’s getting to where… Read more »
BAH!
Guest
BAH!

Did you miss the announcement? The Xbone is getting backwards-compatibility by the end of the year. It’ll work a little oddly, but it seems like a solid feature.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Backwards compatibility comes out in Nov.

Bradley Rothwell
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Bradley Rothwell
I haven’t logged into an a Microsoft console in 4-5 years, and the game showed up as free for me. I say that because multiple other sites claimed you needed a Live sub to qualify. I’ll likely never own an Xbox One so I’ll never get to play that copy. Here’s hoping the PC changes come soon, and that it doesn’t have a framerate cap. The announcement trailer said “Unlimited Framerate – 60FPS”, which is beyond contradictory… The PC port of the original CC was beyond abysmal. Capped at 30, with the primary issue being the multiplayer which almost never… Read more »
Milestone_RP
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Milestone_RP

Still waiting on a full on PC port of the console release of Alien Hominid, too. >.>

Bennijin
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Bennijin

Other than Back Off Barbarian, is there any new content (stages, characters) compared to the original game?

I know it’s got the Insane Shop from the PS3 version, although if you own the DLC for the XBLA version then those characters and weapons transfer up anyway.

Dave Dogge
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Dave Dogge

These Remasters in videogames will go the way of the BBC television show repeats during the 1980s and 90s where the repeats were being repeated – repeatedly….. mark my words !

Dodj33
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Dodj33

We should copy over the comments from the original review and improve them

Zodoken
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Zodoken

Any idea if PC players will get CCR for free when it releases?

Enuo
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Enuo

So, Pirate Warriors 3.
Yes or no?

Lazyslothboy
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Lazyslothboy

I think it is worth noting that castle crashers remastered will not be free forever. After Sep 20, it will be 5 bucks to owners of the original.

http://blog.thebehemoth.com/category/development/

Still a discount, though until I play the remaster I am skeptical if it is worth the double dip.

JVF
Guest
JVF

Games like this make me wish I had friends. Friends to play with I mean. I do have friends, honest.
Joking aside, I always appreciate games that are purely fun and silly and, from what I’ve read and seen, this is just that. Might have to buy this now since I didn’t when it first came out, for who knows what reason.

09philj
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09philj

“Free for owners of the original” is a very fair way of doing things with these last gen re-releases.

Yusuf Moosa
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Yusuf Moosa

Yeah, PS4 has been using cross-buy for downloadable titles like Journey, which is pretty cool

Sperium3000
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Sperium3000

This game is pretty cool, but these kinds of beat ’em ups really shine with a friend.

TheMagicLemur
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TheMagicLemur

This review is nowhere NEAR a consistent 60fps. SHIT REMASTER, JIM

Sperium3000
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Sperium3000

No preorder bonuses!? THIS IS BOOLSHIEEET

MrAptronym
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MrAptronym

I tried to play the original with a friend of mine, but oddly enough, the camera motion made us both sick. Game seemed pretty fun, but I couldn’t really play it.

k u u d e r e
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k u u d e r e

Surprisingly, I already have Castle Crashers. Hardly play it, but I appreciate the remaster nonetheless! Good review, Jim. ♥

Anton
Guest
Anton

I was looking for something new (new to me, anyway) to play with my GF. This looks pretty perfect. Thanks, Jim

Craig the War Boy
Guest

“The better version is free if you already own the game” is my favorite new marketing tactic.

TnTyson
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TnTyson

Free if you own the original????
The Behemoth clearly have much to learn from the AAA industry. Amateurs.

Jpkurihara
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Jpkurihara

I think its the other way around

Anton
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Anton

Impossible. The AAA industry can only learn to get worse.

BAH!
Guest
BAH!

You say it jokingly, but it’s depressingly true. I have yet to see any real evidence to the contrary.

Anton
Guest
Anton

No jokes here. Been watching it happen since the 360/PS3 got widespread internet connectivity. All downhill from there.

Jpkurihara
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Jpkurihara

Hasn’t Nintendo stayed the same?

BAH!
Guest
BAH!
It’s not nearly so dramatic for them, but even they are starting to slip. The DLC for Smash 4 is pretty gratuitous, nonsensical, and over-priced. What’s more, the roster is still fairly unbalanced, with two characters (Little Mac & Bowser) who are still ridiculously OP. In short, it was released before it was ready, and it’s still not quite there. Outside of game concerns, there’s their bizarre and concerning stance on Youtube. Even people who don’t monetize aren’t safe from Content ID, and the revenue sharing program they’ve implemented is unnecessarily restrictive in the games that can be used. And… Read more »
Andrew
Guest
Andrew
I think they’re more in an experimental phase, personally. In the future, the costumes should probably have some discount bonus packs for getting multiple ones, same with the stages. Something closer to Mario Kart’s DLC. The DLC character prices, I’m not sure what the average price for those are with fighting games, since there’s things like a bunch of bug testing and tweaking that needs to be done after the fact, but some sort of character packs would work as well. Granted, with the current situation, it comes across as the company doing the Smash DLC as it goes, rather… Read more »
BAH!
Guest
BAH!
They do offer a discount for the DLC, but only if you’re buying for both versions. And while not grossly overpriced like other fighter DLC, characters in SSB4 are still pretty pricey. Just getting the four characters is $22- $18 if you only want one version. And then there’s the couple stages for sale, which just feels wrong. They’re cheap, but it would have made sense to offer the stages for free, and overcharge a touch on the other DLC. But as for the Amiibo, there’s more than just the resupply problem. From their inception, Amiibo were meant to be… Read more »
Andrew
Guest
Andrew
Agreed. Like I said, offering some bundles for characters would be a good idea. In the future, for new DLC, I’m hoping they do something similar to Splatoon, but launching the game with a lot more content, and giving a few new stages here and there. Perhaps the original game could mainly be new stages, and the new ones retro, and any DLC characters could be the only thing you’d be charged for afterwards. It’s kind of funny you mention that about amiibo, and I understand the complaint, but I personally disagree. Generally, they are relegated to very minor parts… Read more »
LexTheDonteKilla
Guest
LexTheDonteKilla

Are Little Mac and Bowser considered Top Tier by the competitive community? I don’t remember either of them being mentioned by any competitive smash discussions and I haven’t seen much high level footage of them in tournament. I remember pre-patch Sheik and Diddy Kong were the top tiers.

BAH!
Guest
BAH!
They’re not “top tier”, they’re OP. Little Mac has four different attacks with super armor; and he’s got his unique ability, the KO Punch, which charges from both damage given and received. He’s extremely quick, does decent damage, and has very good knock-back on pretty much all his attacks. His only “balance” is that he’s shit in the air, but that’s easily avoided- especially in “for glory” matches. Bowser was fairly well balanced in the past because even though he was extremely powerful, he was super slow and he made a big target. But someone decided it was a good… Read more »
LexTheDonteKilla
Guest
LexTheDonteKilla
Is this from a 1v1 or free for all perspective? If free for all, then that mode is incredibly difficult to balance in any meaningful way and it isn’t meant to be taken seriously so balancing for anything other than a general sense of balance is not needed. If we are talking competitive 1v1 then our best indicator of tiers (and if a character is overpowered, it will be top tier. Unless you mean that you struggle against that character, in which case; learn the matchup) is tournament results and the opinions of top players. I’m not super involved in… Read more »
BAH!
Guest
BAH!
I’m not speaking from an “experience” standpoint as much as from an informed one. The reason you don’t see much of Little Mac is because no one will play against him. You get him in “For Glory”, and you might as well throw the match. I think LM may actually be banned from any sort of “official” play, like Pit was in Brawl. You’re clearly speaking from a theoretical standpoint, though. Yes, theoretically, any half-balanced character has a weakness that can be exploited. But try putting that into practice on the Nintendo Network. It won’t end well, I assure you.… Read more »
LexTheDonteKilla
Guest
LexTheDonteKilla
I just looked up some Sm4sh tierlists (note that it is far too early for any accurate tier-list to be made so this is just to get a general idea of where the competitive community think he stands): every single tierlist ranked him in the lower half of the cast with EventHubs’ list putting him as the fourth worst in the game. If he were broken then he would be at the top of every list (much like how Kat was at the top of every PS Allstars tier list in her own tier because she was actually broken). If… Read more »
BAH!
Guest
BAH!
With all due respect, have you played Smash 4? If you have, you’d know what I’m talking about. “Ranking” is only for high-level competition, not for average players. The fact is that he’s terribly unbalanced with a number of easily-abused moves and way more buffs than any other character. And if no one wants to fight against a specific character, how long would it take before people abandon him entirely just for the sake of being able to play? Not very long. I know I won’t fight anyone who uses him. I’d rather go up against Sonic. Besides, doesn’t the… Read more »
LexTheDonteKilla
Guest
LexTheDonteKilla
Tierlists have existed for every fighting game ever, their existence doesn’t make a game unbalanced. I used the tiers to show that Little Mac is generally considered pretty bad, tiers are by no means a scientific way of evaluating the specific positions of the cast in relation to one another (and it generally takes several years after patches stop for a general consensus to be reached). A character is not unbalanced just because casual (or lower level) players struggle against him, they may be easier to learn and use, but that doesn’t make them unbalanced or broken. It really is… Read more »
BAH!
Guest
BAH!
No, at this point I’m pretty much done with the game- for multiple reasons, not just what I feel is bad balancing. The 3DS version was not a good matchup for the hardware, so that soured me a bit; and I keep encountering annoying glitches and terrible input lag in every online game I play. I still have yet to win a single match. Oh, that’s another thing: no real matchmaking system of any kind for the online play. I could understand the “for fun” not having any, but “for glory” is the equivalent of “ranked”, and it needs that… Read more »
LexTheDonteKilla
Guest
LexTheDonteKilla
Damn, didn’t know the online was that bad for smash (heard that it was much better than Brawl if not great). I can definitely sympathise, lag is absolutely horrific in fighting games especially. Chances are you might have a local smash scene though. Really, no matchmaking? That is pretty ridiculous for a ranked mode in any modern fighter. It’s too bad that there are so few games in this sub genre (Smash and PSAS only I think, and they both have terrible online), you would have thought that with Smash’s success more people would be trying their hand at making… Read more »
BAH!
Guest
BAH!

I should clarify and say that there is no *obvious* matchmaking. You get into the roster screen and someone almost immediately pops up as your opponent. That tells me it’s searching purely by availability. There’s no ranks as far as I can tell, and your “Global Smash Power” or whatever the fuck is just a score total, nothing more. It’s pretty frustrating, especially since there are a number of things the game keeps track of (in your records) that could very easily be used for decent matchmaking.

TnTyson
Guest
TnTyson

You do realise that was sarcasm, right?

Jpkurihara
Guest
Jpkurihara

Yes, but the game industry shouldn’t be joked about on it’s current state.

BAH!
Guest
BAH!

My very first thought upon seeing this new review was “Are you fucking serious?!” I yelled it in an empty house. Twice. The second time was more dramatic than the first.

But with a price tag of “free if you already own the original”, how can anyone possibly be mad at this? A friend of mine’s been recommending Castle Crashers for a while, so I’ll probably pick this up once I finally get my Sk’bone.

Fluvian
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Fluvian

Had no idea this existed, I need to pick it up.

spyro2060
Guest
spyro2060

In before, “OMG! YOU GAVE THIS A BETTER SCORE THAN MAD MAX,” comments start appearing from the most pathetic fanbase to ever disgrace The Jimquisition

Megaoverlord12
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Megaoverlord12

Correction: free until the 20th IF you have Xbox Live Gold. $5 after that, again, IF you have Gold.

A Modern Drunkard
Guest
A Modern Drunkard

I just got it for free & I don’t have Gold.

BAH!
Guest
BAH!

Wait, your Xbox turns on without Gold?

A Modern Drunkard
Guest
A Modern Drunkard

Yeah, I think it’s defective or something, haha. I guess I should note that I actually “purchased” it online & since I don’t have an Xbone yet I can’t actually confirm it’s playable for me.

Andrew Davis
Guest

I’m liking these “Remasted” reviews – I’m relatively new to the Sterling-verse so I ‘missed’ most of these older games’ reviews.
🙂

Fluvian
Guest
Fluvian

I’m guessing the “Sterling-verse” is like the twilight zone, but with dildo bats.

Anton
Guest
Anton

Nocturnal flying dildos? The horror!

Protogamer
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Protogamer

Horror?

Benson
Guest
Benson

Whore*

It’s a common mistake.

Zanda
Guest
Zanda

and a bit more spunk.