Cursed Castille (Review)

Cursed Castille is a remake of the few year old Maldita Castilla that was released on PC and Ouya. For the uninitiated, you play as a knight who goes on a journey after monsters start appearing across the land. It's a typical 2D action game that is unashamedly inspired by Capcom's classic Ghosts 'n Goblins. Its simple gameplay is complemented with solid controls as all you do is run around, jump, and attack. Along the way, you'll discover a variety of weapons that can drastically change your strategy. For example, knives can be thrown to cover a wide area while axes are launched in an arc. Similarly to its inspirations, Maldita Castilla EX is extremely challenging so make sure you're ready for tons of controller-throwing moments before you give it a download. Overall, the simple yet tough gameplay may be occasionally frustrating, but there's no denying how satisfying it is once you become a master swordsman.

It goes without saying that Maldita Castilla EX: Cursed Castile is an authentic 16-bit game. It looks and sounds like a long-lost Sega Genesis game. The pixel-perfect environments, 4:3 aspect ratio, and distinct Mega Drive sound will feel right at home for anyone who grew up in the early '90s. That being said, the music isn't very good. I can think of many actual Genesis games that have much better soundtracks which is quite disappointing. After playing it for hours, I can't even remember one tune.

Maldita Castilla EX's most impressive aspect is the fact that it contains loads of memorable boss battles and stage segments that are incredibly fun to take on. Each boss is unique and requires a different strategy to defeat. Such foes include a teleporting wizard, a two-headed vulture that attacks you as you ride on a horse-drawn platform, a doppelgänger, and a flying heart with wings. If all that craziness isn't enough, the stages themselves are full of fantastic moments such as having to fend off oncoming harpies and even a segment where you throw daggers up at multiplying bubbles to pop them.
Unfortunately, along with the satisfying amount of variety, there are also plenty of unfair moments that'll surely get your blood boiling. Although there are many checkpoints, you don't get to keep your equipment upon perishing so having a surprise enemy end your life only to respawn far less powerful than you were a minute ago is very frustrating. Speaking of which, it's almost impossible to navigate through new areas without something unexpected popping up and hurting you. Therefore, you basically have to restart every new scenario multiple times before you have a firm grasp of how to progress. On top of this mandatory memorization, most tricky segments go on for far too long and become tests of endurance rather than pure skill. In other words, the challenge can be satisfying at times but it will also frequently feel too unfair since you get punished for not knowing what lurks ahead as you try to memorize every hazard.

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