Review by Psycho Penguin
"Evil Castlequest! Stay away from my game collection!"
Okay, in my lifetime, I have played classics, great games, good games, bad games, and horrible games. Only a select few have I ever wanted to bash with a sledge hammer a million times and send it to the moon. Heroes of the Lance. NFL Extreme 2. Hydlide. Incredible Crash Test Dummies. And Castlequest. This piece of monkey dung does not even deserve to be called a game. It does not even belong in your game collection (looks at that Castlequest in my game collection and wonders how it got there).
If you ever see a copy of this game at your local flea market or pawn shop, inform the owner of the boredom hazard and have the owner removie it slowly, with gloves. There is only one good, redeeming quality about Castlequest: the cartridge I own has a cool cover. But you never judge a book by its cover, so why judge a game by its cover? I think the cover is actually the high point of the game, which speaks more for the ''quality of the game'' than anything else.
The storyline is actually kind of interesting at first, until you realize it involves the same old stuff you always get. Wow, you're a prince, and you need to save the princess. But first, you need to go through a castle to get some keys! But why the hell are the keys even where they are at, anyways? Did the evil bad guy just go ''oh, let's leave the keys in hard to get places, but still, let's make it possible for someone to come after me! But have no fear, I'll put some stupid enemies in the guy's way! He'll never get to me!'' I really felt the hackeyened storyline did nothing to add to the game.
The game really didn't look as bad as I made it seem in my original review, I just didn't think it looked all that great. You get a black background, some colors on the screen which represent the various locales. The problem is, you never really get a whole feeling that you are going anywhere in the castle, because every screen looks almost exactly the same. The enemy designs are rather lackluster, as each only takes up a small part of the screen, so you never really get to see any real detail in them. That's the whole problem with the graphics, there really isn't too much detail in anything. You get a black screen, some plain enemies, some plain walls, plain stairs, and that's about it. It's like a game that could be programmed off BASIC, or something.
I wish I could kill whoever did the music for this game, but that would probably mean jail time for me, and I don't think it's a worthy sacrifice. Regardless, the music is rather terrible. The main theme gets a little catchy at first, then it gets plain out annoying by the fifth or sixth screen. The music barely even changes throughout the game, so you are stuck listening to the same stupid song over and over again. It seems to loop every six seconds, which gets frustrating really quickly. The sound effects aren't much better, as most of the time you won't hear any, then one will pop up and annoy the hell out of you. Then it'll go away again like nothing ever happened. Bad sound effect, go to your room!
The controls really aren't that bad, but they definitely take some time to get used to. Your character can't really go up or down at all, so you need to jump a lot. I think that's an annoying aspect, but at least it makes sense in a way. It's easy enough to control him, however, in certain situations it gets frustrating. Let's say you want to jump from a moving platform to another one. Usually, this would be simple. Just wait for the platforms to line up, then jump. However, here, your guy won't normally jump the way you want him to. It's more of an exercise in frustration than anything else.
Castlequest is basically a puzzle game, but a different kind. Instead of your typical puzzle game, you are thrust into a magical castle world, where you need to figure out a puzzle in each stage in order to get a key. When you get the key, you are able to advance to the next stage. However, there is a basic flaw here. Some of the puzzles are just riduclousy stupid. So stupid that you will never figure them out, or so stupid that you'll do them in ten seconds. Most of them involve moving an item from point A to point B. This becomes boring after a while, and a little more variety would have been a welcome addition.
Of course, you also have to handle all sorts of various enemies, ranging from magicians to little freakish bird things. Sometimes, you have to use a strategy in order to defeat the enemies. Sometimes, you can use your little knife to kill them. Other times, you can just avoid them and try to figure out the puzzle while avoiding the enemies. Again, this is a nice touch, but a little too often you will find yourself forgetting all about the enemies while you are trying to complete a puzzle, and bam, it's game over for you.
The game is pretty non linear, once you get through the first couple of stages. When you start off the game, you get thrusted into a stage with a couple of keys and doors, so you think the game is gonna be non linear. But after that, there is basically: figure out puzzle, get key, go to next stage. There's only a few instances where you actually get to figure out which way to go next. This is pretty much the worst possible situation, as an extremely linear game is not that fun. However, it's not all bad, as going through the whole castle just to get one key would have been torture. This is no Symphony of the Night, thank god. I'd sue whoever made this linear castle, however.
The game, despite all of its flaws, has some good points which keeps me from giving it a 1, however. That doesn't prevent it from being a horrible game, but at least it makes the gaming experience a little more bearable. Some of the puzzles are very creative and will require the game player to really use their brain. This is definitely a thinking man's game, and for all the people that love to be challenged mentally, this is certainly your kind of game. The game is huge, and there is a password feature, so you won't be able to complete it in one sitting. However, I don't think I need to tell you how easy it is to lose a password, right?
You will probably find better things to do with your time minutes after starting this game up. There is really no main point to playing this game. Even if you enjoy thinking a lot while playing a game, there are plenty of games out there that challenge you mentally. Therefore, there is really no reason to play this game, when there are so many more positive alternatives out there. It's like playing Xevious.. it may have a few good points to it, but most of the game is lame, and there are tons of better games out there, so why waste your time on a game that doesn't have nearly as many good qualities? The same thing applies here.
You will definitely get a good challenge out of this one, as it is one of the more challenging quests ever released for the NES. You will automatically sense an extreme amount of xhallenge from the get go. The game sends you through many, many different rooms, and each one has a really challenging puzzle to it. It'll definitely take you a long time to complete this one, if you even have the motivation to. It has 80 stages, that alone should give you a hint as to how challenging the game is.
Castlequest is really just a toned down game that never got off the ground. Filled with innovative ideas, the game just never really clicked. With so many video games on the market nowadays, there is no reason to play a crappy game. However, this game is so interesting and so unique you may just find something to like. Those of you that like action, however, well, just move on to Max Payne or whatever's out there. There's no action to be found here. This is definitely a thinking man's game. I didn't like it, you might, try it and see for yourself.
-The quest is quite long and challenging.
-It has a really nice cover.
-It surely is an innovative game.
Not So Good Points
-Pretty much everything.
-The storyline is the typical crap.
-The graphics are mind numbingly boring.
-The game actually starts when you turn it on.
-It gets confusing as hell.
-The music and controls will drive you insane.
I Run Down The Game.. Psycho Penguin Style!
Storyline - 2.1/10
Graphics - 3.5/10
Music - 1.2/10
Sound Effects - 1.3/10
Controls - 1.4/10
Gameplay - 1.7/10
Replay Value - Below Average
Challenge - Way Above Average
Game Length - A Long Time
Is This Game Worth A Purchase? - No.
Overall - 1.7/10
The Bottom Line
With so many good games out there, it's best not to waste your time here. Next, please.
Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 03/16/00, Updated 01/06/02
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