As it may be clear to you, Castle Crashers has claimed the "co-op game of the week" title for me in a previous week. Though, as I've said many times, I almost always play the game at some point in the week, every week. Often, the more I look into a game, the more there seems to be, and Castle Crashers certainly fits this description. I mean, the first time I wrote a "This Week in Co-Op" column about Castle Crashers, I was impressed with the fun co-op aspects and the games pure joy and humor. However, after a week dedicated to playing Castle Crashers (and basically nothing else), I can see what is even more impressive about the game: it is an incredible time sink, in the best possible ways.
To get an idea of what makes Castle Crashers a wonderful time sink, we must define what exactly a "time sink" is. A time sink is basically anything that requires you to put a lot of time into in order to get some results/prize/reward. However, Castle Crashers is a good time sink, in that you only need to play a little bit to have fun. However, to enjoy the entire game that is Castle Crashers, you must sink some serious time to unlock everything. Let me explain.
The game comes with four characters unlocked, and around a similar amount of weapons. Certainly you will trip upon some other characters and weapons while playing through the game, but unless you take some time, you will miss a lot of stuff in the game. However, if you play the game like me, you can unlock so many different characters, weapons, and animal orbs, you will discover almost a game within a game. However, the most important part of all of this is that the unlocking of characters leads to having a game that is chocked full of so many different and unique characters, that the depth is quite astounding, particularly for an XBLA game.
For example, if you beat the game with one of the main characters (which takes several hours, in the 5+ range), you unlock a new character. Then, if you beat the game with that unlocked character, you unlock another character. Now keep in mind, this has to be done four different times, one for each different starting character. And, that's not the only way to unlock characters. Also, if you beat the game with other unlockable characters, you unlock more characters. It's a massive unlocking circle, I know.
In addition to the twenty-odd different unlockable characters, there are also a bunch of different weapons and animal orbs. The latter are crucial to unlocking everything that Castle Crashers has to offer. Some animal orbs enable you to find hidden secrets better, and others make you nice and strong to tackle some of the harder challenges (like some of the later arena stages. To top it all off, did you know there is a whole other unlockable mode? Yeah, it is a harder version of the game, and you can play through it twice.
This week, which was kind enough to be nice and wide-open (as to be conducive to exploring Castle Crashers) was eventful to say the least. I discovered just how far the rabbit hole goes in Castle Crashers, and it goes down pretty darn far. I mean, I'm not kidding when I say that some full-fledged 360 games don't have this level of depth and amount of unlockables. Now, all the unlockables in the world doesn't make a bad game good, but fortunately, Castle Crashers is a great game that happens to have a ludicrous amount of unlockables. To, play the game again...and again....and again. You might just be surprised with what you find.