Discussion The Patient Gamer - Castle Crashers - Nougaty Couch Co-Op Goodness


Diamond Member
Nov 16, 2006
I started playing Castle Crashers years ago when it was a download through Xbox live on my friend's Xbox 360. It was a fun time with friends, but ultimately a little popcorny and we stopped and moved on to Halo 3 or something else. In the intervening years I got married, had two kids, moved hundreds of miles from my hometown, and started life anew. I knew when I had kids though that I wanted to get them into this videogame thing and that it would be a great way for us to bond and share an interest. When my daughter was about 5 years old, I fired up Castle Crashers with her. Ove the years we sort of chipped away at levels took breaks, and when my son turned 3 we got him in on the action too. Sometimes we would get stuck on levels for ages, walk away from the game and come back to play it a few months later, still be stuck, and walk away from the game again.

A month ago it all came together. My daughter is 9 now and my son is 5. We sat down at their request for a gaming sesh over a holiday weekend. We has been stuck on one particular boss for a while, but suddenly we all gelled. My son was kiting enemies, my daughter was making strategic use of her character's magic, I was delivering the kill shots. We suddenly steamrolled from about the half way point in the game to the end in the course of a few days.

This is the first game I have ever beaten with my kids. It took years. I am a happy man.

Castle Crashers is a 2.5d side scrolling beat-em-up in the same vein as Final Fight and Streets of Rage, done over in developer Behemoth's signature colorful cartoon graphics, cutesy characters, and low brow but clever comedic stylings. 4 players can play simultaneously using xbox controllers connected to their PC and go through the entire game together. The game is lite on plot, preferring to show rather than tell, and get the players back to the action as quickly as possible.

The good:

- Art direction, style, presentation are all entirely 100% on point.

- Game is pretty hilarious. There is no dialogue, but the humor tends to be derived by juxtaposing the cutesy art style against violence, or through just sheer silliness of the character designs.

- Light RPG elements allows you to level up your characters and keep a sense of progression going. Can put points into Strength (damage), Magic (with new spells unlocked every few tiers), Defense (health), or agility (how quickly your character moves). Can also equip weapons with unique stats to buff certain primary stats, which then determine things like damage output.

- Combat is reasonably varied, fast and fun. Combos are largely built off of a combination of a light attack/heavy attack/jump and you have the option to use some items for ranged attacks as well as magical attacks.

- In short the game has that "easy to play, harder to master" sort of combat that is inviting but not without its depth.

The bad:

- Its a 2.5d side scrolling beat em up. There will be times where you're swinging away at an enemy and none of your hits are connecting because you're character is slightly shifted above/below the enemy on the screen. Its a minor problem but its there.

- The game is really just not that much fun as a single player game. It can certainly be played and scales for the number of players, but its a game that was really built to be a couch co-op game.

It'll basically run on just about anything, and is probably $5 or less on Steam at this point. If you've been searching for a solid couch co-op game you could do far worse than Castle Crashers.