Thursday, January 24

Review: Cursed Castilla EX [Nintendo Switch eShop]

When “vintage gamers” like me reminisce about memorable arcade games from over the years one that tends to inevitably come up is Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, whether in its original arcade implementation or the SNES classic among some others. Notoriously challenging, but with a signature art style and play elements, even with the inevitability of death somewhere along the way it managed to make a heck of an impression. Since that time many have tried, but generally failed, to both replicate the essence of those games and throw in some modern flourishes. Cursed Castilla may be one of the best modern takes on the series I’ve played, and while it isn’t perfect it shows great reverence for the series while not outright copying it either.

You’ll play the game as Don Ramiro, a knight on a quest to save his land from an invasion of all sorts of evil creatures. Over the course of the game’s 8 stages you’ll face a wide variety of creatures and challenging bosses, for the most part needing to keep adapting as you go to different attack patterns and complications throughout. While you’ll always start out with your standard sword that you can throw there are a variety of other weapons, each with their own feel and weaknesses, you’ll be able to acquire as you go. While you may settle in to a favorite there are certainly areas and bosses that favor some weapons more than others, but that’s something you’ll need to learn as you go.

For people simply looking for some arcade-style fun the game is reasonably challenging but offers up enough checkpoints and options to continue to be fair. If you’re more determined and want to see everything the game has to offer, including the best of the game’s 4 possible endings, you’re going to buckle down and make a commitment. That means learning the nuances of every enemy and boss, discovering some hidden secrets, and generally doing a far better job of staying alive than more casual players would likely hope. The point is that the game actually scales very well to be an experience for either audience, and I appreciate the effort in finding a way to balance things these different sides of the coin.

While the game’s style and degree of challenge may make it more of a niche title, for people who’ve been thirsting for a worthy Ghouls ‘n Ghosts successor in general Cursed Castilla nails it. Managing to find a balance between showing reverence and still being its own distinct game the developers did a great job of walking that tightrope effectively. If you don’t mind there being many deaths on the way to success as you work your way through it, there’s plenty of great arcade action to enjoy here.

Score: 8

  • Reminiscent of the classic Ghouls ‘N Ghosts without being derivative
  • Offers challenging but fair checkpoints and continues for more casual players, but multiple endings and demanding requirements for seeing the best one
  • Varied weapons allow you to find a style of play that best suits you

  • The retro arcade style won’t be for everyone
  • Even with the checkpoints it can be pretty unforgiving in spots, which may scare more casual players away before finishing