Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Video Game Tribute #15 - Castle Crashers

Okay, so I've been playing this game NON STOP. Typically for a game tribute, I like the game to be at least 10 or so years old. It needs time to marinate, become immortalized, become... Legend. But I seriously love this game so much that I highly doubt 10 or even 20 years from now I'll look back and go, "Meh, it was aight"... I've already lost AT LEAST 40 hours of my life to this adventure and I've only had it for about 3 weeks. I don't want those hours back, I want to invest more hours... I doubt my fiance will let me. I can't say I blame her. I'm a hot ticket.

I imagine I should probably say the title of this glorious 2D epic... It's called Castle Crashers... I believe this game has been out since 2008, and I've always been aware of it, but just never built up the enthusiasm to purchase it... Not to mention in 2009 I was unemployed and couldn't afford it if I wanted... I doubt the tax payers of America would have been happy about me using their hard-earned money to play video games... But then, my money goes towards it now, and I'm a tax-payer... No, I'm a tax-PLAYER. Wha-what!

In any case, this game brings us back to the glory days of beat em' up adventures. It's got all the basics to make me happy. 1.) Simple Game Play 2.) A challenge that isn't impossible 3.) AMAZING hand-drawn graphics 4.) Lots of unlockable goodies. Number four is a big deal to me. If I can run through a game, beat it, and not have anything worth going back and playing it again for, then I'm going to be a little disappointed. I like to have a reason to play a game a second time. Castle Crashers will have me going back until I'm 35 at this rate. There's over 24 playable characters in this game. You start out with 4 characters; X-Box Button colored Knights, each with their own unique magical power. The red one shoots electricity, the orange one uses fire, the blue one uses ice, and the green one uses poison. I've found that I have the most fun playing as the orange knight. I've unlocked a good chunk of them by now, but even after unlocking them all, there's also powerups to unlock (in the form of "animal orbs"; little creatures that follow you around and give you various boosts in whatever) as well as 69 weapons which can be discovered, unlocked or traded with other X-Box Live players... Most of them are useless. I think one of them is actually a lobster, but it's still fun to find them nonetheless. Needless to say, one run through the game won't be enough to obtain everything... I've beaten the game 5 times now and I still haven't found it all.

The other aspect of the game I feel I need to touch on is the graphics. Castle Crashers was created by a company called "Behemoth", their logo is a fat chicken with a sword... And that alone makes them okay in my book. Their artist is a guy named Dan Paladin, who apparently used to do a lot of stuff for Newgrounds... He's got a unique style that makes this game stand out amongst most other 2D Beat em' Ups out there... The use of vibrant colors, incredibly stylized characters and VERY fluid, yet hand-drawn, animation makes this game pop from start to finish. Even when the game is getting frustrating, you don't care as much because it just looks awesome. Being an artist (or so I like to call myself), the graphics are going to be more important to me than actual gameplay. I think I've talked about it before, but I simply adore the 16-bit era of gaming... More imagination, and MUCH more effort went into the gaming experience because people didn't have computer graphics to cop-out on. Give me a stylistic 2D side-scroller over the next leap in computer imagery any day... To this day, I simply DESPISE Mario 64 for that reason alone. CGI will always inevitably become outdated by the next leap in technology, but something hand-drawn, that will always be exactly how it was imagined to look, not bound by technological impairments. Street Fighter 2, epic, still epic, will always be epic... Virtua Fighter... Not so great now. Easily forgotten.

I mentioned earlier the simplistic gameplay... Castle Crashers is by no means easy, it has a decent enough challenge and sometimes you need to play levels over just to level-up enough to take on the later challenges... But any person at any age with any skill-set can easily pick up a controller and jump in on the action without having to bug the other person playing with a billion questions like, "What am I supposed to do here, this is stupid, I wanna play Uno instead...", yeah. There's 4 basic buttons: Jump, Hard Attack, Quick Attack, Use Special... in addition, there's block and magic, which are just trigger buttons, I don't even use block half the time, and to use magic you just hold down the trigger and hit one of the attacks. SO. FREAKING. SIMPLE. You run around, kill stuff and collect stuff, there's no continues or 1 ups or game overs or experience debt, none of that. Just play till you beat it. It's got up to four players, which I haven't done yet, but I'm aching to play with someone... Maybe I can talk my fiance into it... She really just plays Mario. I should get a friend.

Castle Crashers also uses humor very well. There's characters doing things in the background, random cut scenes and victory animations which crack me up. There's a sequence in one of the levels where there's something making the ground shake that's terrifying the animals into crapping themselves... and not in a gross poop way, the game isn't vulgar by any means, it's just having fun with itself, and you can tell the animators and developers had a blast with this. And that's really what it comes down to, it's a fun game, it doesn't take itself too seriously, and it was made by people who understand the bare basics of classic gaming: Just make it fun.

The moral of the story? 2D kicks the snot out of 3D.

Curse the Z-Axis!!!
~ Mark

1 comment:

  1. ooh, your blog looks different! very nice! :)

    i'll play it with you!! especially if it's easy, like you! :)