Castle Crashers is a straightforward hack-and-slash in the same mold as Golden Axe that will pit you and up to three other knights against a host of enemies this summer on Xbox Live Arcade. From the makers of the quirky Alien Hominid, Castle Crashers will share the same bold, cute graphical style and add simple but addictive gameplay.
The controls are extremely simple: You slash, you slash hard, you shoot an arrow, you run around, no problem. But though the controls are normal, the animations they lead to are anything but; you might just slash a bad guy a few times and watch him drop to his knees, or you might pop his head off like a wet daisy. Some of this depends on what combination of heavy and light attacks you press, but some actions also seem to depend on chance, making for battles that are full of gory surprises.
When we played, we hacked our way through lots of knights and archers before finally running into a giant battering ram that had bad guys inside. We leaped into the air and hacked at its planks while avoiding its lethal charges and falling balls of fire. We finally defeated the contraption and moved on, presumably capturing a castle. Later on, we saw four people playing cooperatively, and when they beat that same boss, a princess came out, thanking them for her rescue. The knights did the only thing that knights in that position could do: They fought each other to the death to claim the princess. We've never needed much of a reason to hack up our friends in online battlefields, but we can't wait to see what other lures Castle Crashers will dangle before us when it hits Xbox Live Arcade later this summer.