Castle Crashers – “Empty Nostalgia”
Video-game revivalism is in. Thanks to on-line download services, gamers now have access to all those childhood classics that they cherished, or missed out on. More so, smaller development companies have started to cash in on that retro-spirit, in hopes of reaching vast audiences with low-budget titles available in download services. A return to the past is usually welcome – going back to simpler game designs, sustained only by the intricate quality of its interactivity, instead of its next-gen graphics or physic engines. But not all retro-revivalism is welcome. Video-games have evolved in the last years. Surely not as much as some (me included) might have wanted, but they have, for all intents and purposes, evolved. “Castle Crashers'” developers (Dan Paladin and Tom Fulp) however, seem to take advantage of the lack of criticism surrounding retro-gaming, to produce simplistic games that when properly dissected, show how empty and retrograde their game-design philosophies really are.
Simply put, there’s nothing new about “Castle Crashers”. It’s a bare knuckles “Golden Axe” clone without the dark fantasy ambiance, a mindless brawler without the polish and challenge arcade games excel at… it’s, well, utterly redundant and uninteresting. Nevermind the fact that the its authors seem to take pleasure in exposing the shallowness of their venture, through their crude humor and infantile, cartoonish aesthetic; the bottom line is that “Castle Crashers” is simply not that good of an action game. Not that it doesn’t have its fair share of well executed ideas – level design is sometimes inspired, and its RPG character levelling is simple, but effective – but nothing it does well actually deserves mentioning or praise. Of course, the answers to all my criticisms could be “co-op”, to which I’d reply, if you don’t take pleasure in playing a game solo, why would it make it better if you play it in the exact same way with someone? Co-op needs to be inserted in games with the purpose of allowing cooperative or competitive efforts. “Castle Crashers'” idea of cooperation is bashing enemies together. Now, this can be entertaining, but it’s entertaining because you get to play with your friends. You should compliment your friends, not the game.
Nothing about “Castle Crashers” is actually any good. If it were released a few years back, it would be seen as a quirky game, but little else. So many, many classic games have already done what “Castle Crashers” does well, but with much more creativity and care to detail, that it makes no sense to even look it as anything more than a glorified de-make. Sure, its on-line features are a blessing, but today you have access to many of the classic games that inspired “Castle Crashers” available for download, sometimes even with online play. So why settle with the demeaning qualities of a copy, when you can get the superiority of the original, for a smaller price?