If you were a fan of Castle Crashers back when it released in 2008, then chances are you’re going love being able to play the game on the go with Nintendo Switch. But that’s not everything you’ll find in Castle Crashers Remastered, a new version of the game from The Behemoth, released for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. On top of the original experience, a number of additional modes and technical changes takes the frantic brawling to a new level. But does all of it make this worth another dip into the 2D fantasy world of Castle Crashers? If you love smooth animations, fun multiplayer, and lots of additional content in your hands while on the go; then most definitely it is.
Castle Crashers Remastered gets a boost in the visual department on the Switch, allowing the game to run at a smooth 60 FPS this time around, a nice upgrade over the original game that only ran at 30 FPS on older home consoles. The textures of everything in the game have also gotten a significant upgrade, which look great when playing either docked or in handheld mode. Outside of all this, many of the changes to Castle Crashers Remastered are largely unnoticed, but under the hood they allow the game to run smoother and feel better to control overall. Running around slashing enemies alone or with a few friends is frantic and chaotic at times, but never to a point where things totally break down on screen or look awkward. It’s simply a cavalcade of good looking pandemonium.
The main game is still Castle Crashers as you know it, but with all the additional tweaks and bonus content released since the game came out. You’re getting a complete version of Castle Crashers with all of the weapons, animal orbs, and playable characters available. You still have to find different weapons and upgrades as you progress through each stage, but you don’t have to worry about getting more downloadable content since everything is already here. Playing solo is a great experience in or itself, but Castle Crashers was meant to be done with cooperative multiplayer and doesn’t disappoint on Nintendo Switch.
You can go online or play locally offline with up to three allies for a fun and crazy time. You can detach the joycons and connect other controllers to one Switch console in order to get a full game going, which is both easy and super convenient for anyone traveling around. Leveling up each character happens individually, so you’ll either have to play as or have someone use a character in order for them to grow in levels, otherwise they’re stuck at level 1 while everyone else grows throughout the game. This might be annoying for some, especially when you’re only playing solo and want to try out some of the other knights, but you can replay earlier stages to gain more gold and experience for each character.
There are two additional modes to play through solo or cooperatively. The first is “Back Off Barbarian”, which is a tabletop-like game that has you moving around a board and avoiding enemies that continuously spawn. There’s no battling like in the regular game, just you and your friends frantically taking turns moving your knight across the board while trying to avoid being stomped by foes that roam the board.
At first glance this side-game is interesting and weird, but it quickly loses its luster after a few games. It just doesn’t have the same level of action as Castle Crashers usually does, despite the tense moments you can have when trying not to get caught on the game board. The controls for moving your knight around are different and awkward, but it’s designed to be that way. It feels weird pressing one directional button in order to move another, which may or may not lead you to failure a few times.
The Arena is the other side mode outside the main game, which is exactly what it sounds like. You continuously fight enemies that come at you in waves until you are defeated. The arena itself is small and is guarded by giant cats that keep the action bundle in the center. The Arena can be done either solo or with up to three other friends, which can get pretty wild with how many enemies fill the screen. It’s a challenging and silly mode that focuses on the combat, arguably the best aspect of Castle Crashers as a whole. You don’t level up when going through this mode, which is disappointing since it would’ve been great to have the time you spent in the Arena affect your characters in the main game. But if you find yourself looking to make a spot for yourself within the online leaderboards, then this will keep you busy for a while.
Castle Crashers Remastered doesn’t disappoint in any way. It’s still a fun game to go through with your friends and play alone, but the added portability and online functionality on the Nintendo Switch enhances everything. The visual and gameplay tweaks are great and make the combat of Castle Crashers the best it’s ever been so far. The two extra modes included here may have their charm, but you’ll have the bulk of your attention spent on the main game with your friends or alone on the go. If you missed out on Castle Crashers back in 2008, then you’ll do well to pick it up now and get in on the action.
These impressions are based on a digital review code of Castle Crashers Remastered for the Nintendo Switch, provided by The Behemoth.