I personally prefer this outing, although both are great. I just decided I'd share this column I wrote for my school newspaper, the West Gazette (nobody else seems to cover video games, and the choice is up to us as far as what to write them on, so what better than two of my favorite games for XBLA?). Apologies for the format being screwy...I'm on a slow, underpowered school computer and can't seem to get it fixed.
On October 25th, XBLAFans.com concluded its list of Xbox 360’s Best XBLA Games of All Time. All said, and almost surprisingly, Castle Crashers was crowned the number one downloadable title for the 360. Why surprisingly? A game by the same publisher, Battleblock Theater, was released earlier this year, and it is arguably a better product on all cylinders. It keeps the wacky, absurd humor from Castle Crashers, has more online accessibility, and will keep you entertained for far longer. What drives me mad is that this game isn’t even anywhere on this list, which can be proven to be a little ridiculous on a number of levels.
Castle Crashers and BattleBlock Theater cover two diverse genres of gaming, but, when you look at the content of each game, you’ll see why I’m complaining. Castle Crashers offers a Single Player Campaign that won’t take over a couple hours with a little experience in the Beat ‘Em Up genre, an “Insane” mode which ratchets the difficulty up a couple notches, Online Multiplayer with around five extra modes (which, I might add, aren’t very active these days and tends to be infested with hackers), and a few DLC packs that add extra characters. As of now, there are thirty something characters to play as.
Battleblock Theater (platformer/puzzler) offers a lengthier Single Player campaign, its own rendition of the“Insane” mode (where one mistake sends you right back to the beginning of the level), and a robust set of Minigames that are extremely active as of today. You’ll always find an online game to play when you sign in to Xbox LIVE, whereas in Castle Crashers, you’ll be lucky to even get a single game in (that is, unless you have friends still playing it or have involvement in The Behemoth’s online forums). On a side note, the game is usually hack/glitch free, as opposed to Castle Crashers. In addition, there are a TON of additional “heads” (characters) to unlock. There are 64 of each “head type”, and there are five head types. Do the math, and you have a whopping 320 characters to shoot for. That number continues to grow, too. The game’s publisher, The Behemoth, currently has a special known as “Furbuttom Fridays”. Every Friday, new levels and heads are released. I almost forgot to mention, those new levels are handpicked fan creations. That’s right. On top of the Single Player, Insane Mode, and incredibly active multiplayer, you can unleash your creative side and develop your own levels via a Level Creator within the game. It has an easy, drag and drop interface that just about anyone can get accustomed to with a bit of trial and error. You can then upload them as a “Playlist” for the world to see and play. The only real drawback of the whole package is that the game is that it’s (currently) only available on Xbox 360, whereas Castle Crashers is multiplatform.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Both are fantastic games and rank high up on the charts for their respective genres. But, even Metacritic.com (which averages just about every source of review for games and movies out there) would agree that Battleblock Theater is the better title. Castle Crashers, on Xbox 360 and PS3, averages a critic score of 83.5 out of 100. The Steam (PC) version of the game is currently not ranked. Battleblock Theater has an aggregate critic score of 85, meaning that it’s the better game by a smidge.
To conclude, both are fantastic games worth a look no matter what kind of gamer you are. I just do not feel that Castle Crashers necessarily trumps The Behemoth’s latest title at the same price ($14.99).