Video Game Review – ‘Battle Castles’ (PC)

     December 13, 2005

Posted by Frosty

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Before we jump into Travis’s review, I wanted to put in my 2 cents. As someone who grew up playing Rampart, a classic arcade game that is now available on one of the Midway Arcade classic volumes, I found Battle Castles to be a welcome addition to my PC gaming library.

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Now don’t go thinking this is a new Quake, or even a Half Life, this is as far from it as you can get. Battle Castles is a simple game that pits you as a defender of a castle that gets invaded round after round. With the movement of your mouse, you target ships and other objects that are trying to gain ground on your base. During the completion of the round you can use your “cash” to purchase upgrades on your castle or gun, and those upgrades really make a difference in attacking your foes.

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Now I know it doesn’t sound like much, but the reason why I dig it is for the simplicity of the game. Sometimes you don’t want to have to load up a game for a few minutes and really clear your schedule to get some gaming on. Battle Castles is a simple game that anyone’s computer can play, even while windows is still open in the background. But don’t take my word for it, download the demo here for free and give it a chance.

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Below;is Travis’s take on Battle Castles.

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Review by Travis Richey

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Do you like to click your mouse, really fast?; Do you have exceptionally agile index fingers?; If you answered yes, don’t wait another minute.; Point your mouse over to rustyaxe.com and download the new game Battle Castles.; The website says you should see what all the hype is about.; I know this review may very well constitute “hype,” but I hadn’t heard much of anything about this game before I played it.; Frankly, folks, if Penny Arcade doesn’t mention it, I probably don’t know about it.

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Still reading?; Perchance you want more from your games than several thousand mouse clicks per minute?; Well, then Battle Castles may not be for you, especially at the $19.99 price point.; The game looks like it was designed for a handheld platform like the Pocket PC or Palm OS, and indeed, the guys at Rusty Axe intend to release a Pocket PC version in time for Christmas.; It has the same feel as Insaniquarium or Astro Defence! (sic), in that you are firing cannons at moving targets (moving targets that shoot at you!) to try to protect your castle from being destroyed.; And… there’s not much more to it than that.; Like a lot of games of this ilk, you earn money each level to rebuild your castle wall, buy additional cannons, or upgrade the cannons you have to be even deadlier.; I suppose one could argue that this injects a bit of strategy into the game.; I wouldn’t argue that, but someone might.; If Rusty Axe wanted to make this element even more interesting, they could include the option to sell your castle walls for raw materials to build more guns, thus giving you more firepower but decreasing your defenses.; The designers also include one element that might appeal to the desktop “spare-a-minute” game playing crowd; the ability to affect your overall score via game choices and play style.; For instance, you can choose not to save between stages, thereby increasing your risk of losing, but you are awarded a “no save” bonus.; You also have the ability to spend the money you earn on your score instead of castle walls or guns.; I must admit, this is a bit of cleverness that I haven’t seen very often (if ever) in other games.

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The graphics are very 8-bit in appearance, and the sound isn’t anything spectacular.; The music does tend to stick itself into your brain, in exactly the same way the Super Mario Brothers music did.; It’s a fun diversion, and Battle Castles would be a welcome addition to my palm pilot or my Windows desktop, but again, not for $19.99.

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One thing that would improve the playability in my mind is more stages.; The game starts to see some promise where you must figure out the best way to defeat waves upon waves of enemies, but the potential of that sort of problem-solving gameplay isn’t quite realized.; Perhaps a random map generator would help?; Are those hard to do?;

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FINAL WORDS

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I know, this is my shortest review ever, but Battle Castles has seriously about 30 minutes of play before you beat the game, more if you use the harder modes included (you have to play all the way through “recruit” to get “worthy,” which is easier then “insane.”).; It’s got some inventiveness to it, but it is absolutely not worth twenty bucks.; Not when I can get most of the Castlevania series for my GBA for that much, and Metroid to boot!; Lower the price to $10 or even $5, and I’ll totally be there. ;;Like Levar Burton used to say, “You don’t have to take my word for it.”; Rusty Axe has a downloadable demo available that gives you complete playability of the first stage, including all three difficulty settings.; Give it a go, it’s free.; You may end up liking it enough to buy the full version, especially if you’re the type that is constantly trying to beat your high score at Minesweeper.;

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