|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: The Behemoth||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: The Behemoth||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 27, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4: Online 2-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Last among the collectibles, but certainly not least, are the little woodland creatures you'll find along the way. These little guys are called Animal Orbs and they fall in love with you. Animal Orbs impart various boons to your character and become quite handy as you advance. As such, finding prized orbs becomes a mission in and of itself. Like weapons, Animal Orbs are stored near the blacksmith in a turd-laden barn. It becomes important, especially later in the game and before Arena battles, to switch out your Animal Orbs to get buffs that are more likely to help you with a specific stage or against certain players.
This leads us to the Arena Battles. Arena battles can be played against the CPU, locally with friends, or online. You will be paired with up to three other players and tasked with surviving the gladiatorial bout; the last knight standing wins the event. You can choose to use any of your unlocked characters, weapons, and Animal Orbs. All character stats of your competitors will be displayed on the matching screen, so if you want to challenge yourself or make it easier, you can accordingly select one of your weaker or stronger characters to be sent into the fray. Arena battles are a good way to test your combat prowess and they functioned flawlessly online. Unfortunately, they aren't particularly rewarding and quickly become dull.
Unlike the smooth online Arena Battles, playing through the adventure online is nearly broken. It is very difficult to ever find a game, and, if you do, you will be thwarted by constant drops and freezing. However, the developers at The Behemoth are aware of the trouble and are hard at work fixing the various issues. Nevertheless, the game, as it was released, is not in working order. It's a real shame too, because the local multiplayer experience is excellent.
Similarly, the All You Can Quaff mode, which is another local and online multiplayer mode, is a ridiculous tack-on. This "game" has players mash the X and Y buttons in order to chow down on a piece of fruit. Then players tap the A button when prompted to get the next piece. The first player to get through all the fruit and raise their flag wins. This mini-game lasts far too long and is really just garbage. This is one option that should have found the cutting room floor.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the game is hilarious and the level design is outstanding. The title really feels like an interactive comic. There were several times that I laughed out loud with big ole belly laughs. My personal favorites involved animals and bowel movements (notice the plurality). I won't get into too much detail because I don't want to ruin it. Suffice it to say, the cartoonish facial expressions throughout the game are captured expertly. Plus, every level, boss, and minion is very distinct and interesting.
Castle Crashers is a great title for those who are looking for a quick romp through a magical world full of off-color humor. The controls are straightforward, the simple cartoon visuals are great, the music is perfect, and the combat is fun. The poorly executed online multiplayer is in bad need of a fix and the Arena and Quaff modes are lame, but the adventure is classic and worth the $15.
CCC Editor / News Director