Castle Crashers Remastered is basically the same game as before, but the various improvements make it an adventure worth playing through all over again.
In 2008, Microsoft began really pushing digital titles on Xbox 360 with the Summer of Arcade promotion. The inaugural event saw the likes of Braid and Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 burst on the scene, but it also played host to a goofy little four-player co-op beat 'em up named Castle Crashers that won gamers over with its sadistic sense of humor and button-mashing action. Seven years later, that XBLA classic has been reborn for Xbox One in the form of Castle Crashers Remastered.
Castle Crashers Remastered is more or less the same game that was released seven years ago. It allows for four-player co-op both online and off, tasking players with rescuing princesses and decapitating enemies throughout its many levels.
The core gameplay is like developers The Behemoth took some of the most popular elements of the classic beat 'em up games and threw them in a blender. For example, mount riding, popularized in Golden Axe, is ever present in Castle Crashers Remastered, with players able to ride atop sharks, camels, and fecal-propelled deer. Like in Double Dragon, players are pitted against each other after the damsels in distress are saved, and must fight one another to earn the princesses' affection. There are many other elements in Castle Crashers Remastered that borrow from the beat 'em ups that came before, and in many ways, it pays beautiful homage to the genre.
Even so, those that played Castle Crashers originally already know all that; they played the game 7 years ago. The larger question is what Castle Crashers Remastered brings to the table that makes it worth the upgrade.
First and foremost, the visuals have been given a fairly significant upgrade, with hugely improved textures. The action also runs at a smooth 60 frames per second, making Castle Crashers Remastered a visual treat.
While improved graphics are nice, the largest addition to the remaster is a new mini-game called Back Off Barbarian. Like the other game modes, this addicting and challenging little mini-game can be played with a combination of local and online players, and is an absolute blast with the right group of people. The gist of it is that players are moving along a tile board, trying to avoid an ever-increasing number of enemies, and can only move by pressing the face buttons. Its appeal is a little hard to explain in writing, but it's easy to pick up and play.
Another benefit to upgrading from the Xbox 360 version is that The Behemoth has improved matchmaking, making it easier to hop into an online game than it ever was. This is also helped by the fact that there are more people playing online than on the 360 currently, so those that missed out on the Castle Crashers online experience the first time around now have a chance to see what all the fuss was about.
The online is so active in Castle Crashers Remastered right now because of a couple of different reasons. For one, the game just released, and so a more active online community than usual is to be expected. For two, The Behemoth has issued a fantastic deal to convince people to upgrade from the Xbox 360 version to the Xbox One version. Anyone that owned the game on Xbox 360 will be able to upgrade to the remastered version for free between now and September 20th. Even if previous owners on 360 miss the deadline for the free upgrade, though, they will be able to purchase Castle Crashers Remastered at a discounted price of $5.
If for some reason players don't feel like upgrading to the Xbox One version of the game, they are making the original game backward compatible. Furthermore, players can transfer save files and DLC purchased in the Xbox 360 version to the Xbox One version, which is great for those that don't want to go through the insane grind required to unlock all the characters and weapons again.
Castle Crashers Remastered seems like a no-brainer, but since it's virtually the same game that released seven years ago, it still has the same flaws. At times the game can feel like a repetitive slog, and the character progression isn't very satisfying. The boss fights are still a highlight for the most part, but some of them are just irritating, especially in co-op with four people filling up the screen. However, now the game is better looking, the multiplayer community is rejuvenated, and there's a new mini-game to play around with. So while fans patiently await the release of The Behemoth's next game, Castle Crashers Remastered should fill the void rather nicely, even if they've already played it on Xbox 360.
Castle Crashers Remastered is currently available on Xbox One. Game Rant was provided an Xbox One code for this review.