Damsels in distress
Hack, slash and smash your way to victory as a knight tasked to save kidnapped princesses in Castle Crashers, an action-filled game you can download from Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade online service.
Created by US-based developer The Behemoth for the Xbox 360 console, Castle Crashers is a combination role-playing game (RPG) and side-scrolling beat-em-up, a genre whose main objective is close combat fighting against multiple opponents.
The game starts with the abduction of the king's four daughters by an evil wizard. The king then orders the player, who takes the role of a knight, to rescue the distressed damsels.
The game can support up to four players, all of whom must defeat enemies to progress, using magic and unlocking important combination attacks on the way.
The RPG aspect of the game is highlighted by its experience system, in which a character earns valuable points while fighting through the game. These points are used to favourably adjust a player's principal statistics, which include strength, magic, defence and agility.
Castle Crashers offers 20 levels, more than 40 weapons, and more than 20 unlockable characters, making this one of the largest games available on Xbox Live Arcade.
Although single play is fine, it is more fun to play with friends online or while sharing a console at home.
The only recurring problem so far has been connection issues, presumably the result of excessive traffic: players hooked online or trying to download the game.
If you're not into co-operative gameplay and beating up the bad guy is not enough, the game features the Arena mode, which allows players to fight each other, with four combat methods to choose from.
Along the way find 'animal orbs' - loyal sidekicks with various abilities, who help players with tasks such as finding buried items to chomping on an enemy's head. You can get an orb by defeating the main villain of a level or you can buy one from a store.
The high-resolution illustrated visuals are simple in style, reminiscent of US animated television series The Powerpuff Girls or the Mucha Lucha cartoons, and come off cutesy and hilarious.
Pros: Absurd humour and pure console button-mashing fun for teen gamers.
Cons: Recurring online connection issues.