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Castle Crashers

It’s a story as old as video game consoles. Captured princesses, an evil wizard, a group of intrepid explorers and legions upon legions of evil baddies just waiting to taste the thirsty edge of the sword. This sort of plot is going to be rehashed and rehashed, while the good versions try and add something to the genre the bad ones will merely showcase some new graphics upgrade or a mechanism that allows blood spatter to fall more realistically.

So what is this game then? Well it’s something in between. It’s nothing spectacular but then again it knows it’s nothing spectacular. The gameplay is rather simplistic, for purposes the game can be classified as a button masher. What makes the game different is that it is inherently fun to play. Your character; an unnamed knight in an unnamed kingdom must traverse various levels and locales ranging from large ogre battles on a desolate battlefield to the inside of a spaceship armed with a variety of hand held weapons, some rather resilient magic spells, and the odd animal friend who grants certain benefits that may or may not be useful.

The game isn’t serious, you understand this from the animation style that seems to be renderred in adobe flash. While this may just be an economical decision by the programmers, the fact that you can use a fish, hunk of meat, or the leg of a fallen skeleton warrior as a weapon really drives it home. Your animal friends are simply orbs with faces on them ranging from a fox, fish, or an old school D&D Beholder adds levity to a game that would be absolutely terrible without it.

This is an XBOX Live Arcade game and unlike previous games this one isn’t really meant to be played solo. The online co-op allows you to worry less about your score and level and more about chiding your friends for stealing the last apple. The game almost demands replay as your weapon storage (inside a giant frog) will contain numerous gaps inciting your curiousity to find out what you have already missed (a table leg, a tire iron, a flag poll, honestly it could be anything).

What the game lacks though, is variety. Through various exploits different characters can be unlocked for the player to use. However, they can really be called skins rather than characters as their seems to be only two fighting styles and four different magics to use. Building levels in order to see what the next spell/attack combo is becomes a process of rote after two or three times. Each boss character has a certain pattern that it never deviates from lowering them to a feature of minor annoyance rather than any sort of challenge. It makes the real challenge of the game surviving the sometimes endless onslaught of enemies as they pour out of villages, tombs, teleporters, or defecations.

It’s humorous and well worth the twelve dollars the game costs. It serves as a non-frustrating time killer that can be played for half an hour or several depending on what exactly you are waiting for. The first time through is a delightful challenge but after that the tedium sets in. A recommendation for anyone looking for a new take to assuage the nostalgic yearnings for games like Golden Axe.

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