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.

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 »

Bradley Rothwell
Guest
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 »

Bennijin
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
Dodj33

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

Zodoken
Guest
Zodoken

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

Enuo
Guest
Enuo

So, Pirate Warriors 3.
Yes or no?

Lazyslothboy
Guest
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
Guest
09philj

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

Sperium3000
Guest
Sperium3000

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

TheMagicLemur
Guest
TheMagicLemur

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

MrAptronym
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
TnTyson

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

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
Guest
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
Guest
Megaoverlord12

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

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.
🙂