8.5

It's costs $5 more than it should, but this game is still very fun.

From the moment you start playing 'Castle Crashers' to the time you put it down, it will remind you of those old-school beat 'em up games of yesteryear. And no matter how much leveling up of your character that you do, how many spells you cast, or how many animal orbs you find, this is a beat 'em up through and through. Now that is not a bad thing at all. In fact, it's the main reason I loved playing the demo so much. After falling in love with the first few levels in the demo, I took the plunge and put $15 of my money down for this game and I am happy I did. Too bad the experience is over too quickly.

When you first start the game up, you have a choice of four different knights you can use. In my game, I had the 'Alien Hominid' alien to choose from the start since I purchased that game awhile back. That was a nice touch. Anyway, depending on which knight you choose there are different kinds of magic available. The red knight uses lighting, orange used fire, and so on. As you play the game you will gain experience points similar to how you would in a RPG. Once you level up, you can add points to any of four categories (strength, magic, defense/heath, agility/bow & arrow) to create a character that fits your play style.

While it is great to be able to level up your character, I wish there were more categories to level up. And the only real difference between each character (including the many that you unlock throughout the course of the game) is the magic. Each character has a different kind of magic, so playing around with the game to find which character you like best is fun for awhile. The problem is that once you find your main character that you want to use, level him up, beat the game......well, there isn't much to do after that except to start the process all over again. Sure you can take your leveled character online and play, but you are just playing the same levels over again that you played in the single player. It would have been nice to have some different character traits with each character to distinguish one from the other besides the color, skin, and magic of that character.

It may sound like I am knocking the game, but that is really my only main issue with the game. I know this game was designed to be a long-term play due to the price and the big push for Xbox Live play, but I was really never sold on that. If you play the game co-op online and have more than a couple characters on screen at once, it just gets too chaotic to be fun. The other two multi-player games over Xbox Live are an 'Arena' (where you can fight other people's characters) and some 'slam on two buttons as fast as you can, eating mini-game'. While the arena can be fun at times, the other game is pure crap and was fun for about five seconds.

Other than those problems, this game is a blast. It got very addicting playing my first time through and building up my character while completing the story. The game is difficult at times, but nothing that will get you too frustrated. The bosses are fun to beat up on and while the story certainly won't win any awards, how can you go wrong with the "save the princess" theme once again? Another fun part of the game is trying to find all the animal orbs (little animals that hover over your character offering bonuses) and weapons. Any character can use any weapon (as long as they are leveled up enough), but most of the weapons have strengths and weaknesses that benefit a certain type of character that you might be making. For instance, if you are making a melee-type character you probably don't want to be using a magic staff. Sure it's all basic stuff for any veteran gamer, but it's fun nonetheless.

The game looks fantastic visually and has the same art-style as Alien Hominid had. The game sounds great, as well. Presentation wise, you are certainly getting your $15 worth as this is one of the better games in that area on Xbox Live Arcade. What I feel you don't get your $15 worth is the fact that the game is too short and the playing the game over Xbox Live is overrated. Thankfully, most of the glitches have been fixed due to a patch but the online community is shaky at best. And the game doesn't offer up much to do other than continually leveling up your character. After playing other top-notch games like Geometry Wars 2, I have no why this game would cost more. If a game is $15, it should be longer than this. In fact, the only game I have played so far that has been worth the extra $5 (at the time I paid for it) would have to be 'Puzzle Quest'. Hopefully developers and/or Microsoft don't make this a trend.

Overall, I can highly recommend Castle Crashers to almost any gamer out there. Like I said, this is really a $10 game masquerading as a $15 title, but the game is a blast to play. It's over a bit too quickly for my tastes, but everyone who owns an Xbox 360 should check this game out. If you like the demo, you will like the rest of the game.

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