Castle Crashers (PSN) review

Two years ago (this very month, in fact), The Behemoth paid tribute to all of the beat-em-up arcade classics of yesteryear with its own take on the genre, the memorable Castle Crashers. Xbox Live users have enjoyed the game immensely since that time, despite online issues and occasional stumbles with its high difficulty. But what about PlayStation Network subscribers? Would they ever get a taste of the Castle’s goodness? Well, the good news is yes, it finally arrived on the PlayStation Network.

The plot concerns the theft of a legendary idol from a kingdom, and the Crashers set out to get it back, while rescuing a few damsels in distress and beating up hundreds of minions in the process. If you’ve played titles such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or The Simpsons Arcade, you might already have an idea how this works. You’ve got your weak and strong attacks that you can chain together into devastating combos, projectile attacks that hit enemies from afar, and occasional special abilities that prove useful, including animal companions that lend a hand during combat (We’re big fans of the ram’s head).

For the most part, the gameplay works very well, although there are times you’re going to succumb to cheap hits. Some enemies will shoot projectiles at you from a distance, even if you’re busy pounding their friends from the other side. You do have a block ability, but not being able to turn around quickly enough will result in you getting hit anyway. This makes the difficulty a little harder to bear than other games in this genre.

That’s why it’s a good idea to bring some friends along. Like any good beat-em-up, Castle Crashers supports up to four players fighting simultaneously. You can either gather friends together locally to do some Crashing or log into the PlayStation Network and hunt down your allies there. We didn’t run into many issues with the online play here (as we did originally in the Xbox Live version), although there are a couple of times where we were disconnected during a battle. It doesn’t happen often enough to worry about, though.

Stick with Castle Crashers long enough and you’ll earn plenty of rewards, including new battle arenas and characters (yes, the Alien Hominid is back). There’s also a new volleyball mini-game, exclusive to the PSN version, where you can take on friends in a match of sword-slashing sports action. It’s not the greatest addition, and we would’ve preferred more bonus levels in the main game, but it certainly beats nothing.

Castle Crashers for PSN doesn’t boast any major changes over the original Xbox Live game, but considering it was great to begin with, that’s fine by us. The hand-drawn animation is absolutely gorgeous, and the settings are exquisite for a game of this nature. There’s also plenty of humorous moments throughout, from a huge cat beast that can’t resist coughing up hairballs to forest animals with a penchant for pooing. It’s easy to lose track of what’s happening in a four-player battle, but that just comes with the territory.

As for the music, it’s fantastic. Castle Crashers’ soundtrack is loaded with great battle themes and rockin’ guitar riffs that will make you want to hunt down the soundtrack. It certainly makes up for the lack of sound and voice effects – although the forest animals’ farting noises are completely intact.

While it would’ve been nice for The Behemoth to top the PSN port of Castle Crashers off with more bonus content and perhaps even a more lenient difficulty setting, it’s worth downloading. You’ll more than get your $15 worth out of this one, especially if you’re a fan of beat-em-ups. Get some friends together and crash this castle.