REVIEW: Cursed Castilla EX (Switch)

Polish your sword and skills for this polished mirror to the past.

Abylight continues to bring its profile of quality fun to the Nintendo Switch and developer Locomalito and Gryzor87 have brought yet another one of its gems to the platform as well. Cursed Castilla EX has seen releases on other platforms, including one of Nintendo’s being 3DS, and easily becomes a natural fit for either TV/Handheld play sessions. Cursed Castilla EX is a well-crafted action-platformer paying homage to earlier classic gems from the Ghouls/Ghosts/Goblins mix including on-point level design, enemy and boss variety, secrets begging to be found and fine controls. Although it does present a challenge, it respects your time by allowing you to save your progress and come back to at a later point as well as generous continues/spawn points which will be explained further in this review. This quality experience should be given a chance for both fans of classic greats and side-scrollers in general.

The land of Tolomera has fallen under a witch’s curse with dread seeping deep into Castilla soon to be the land of the dead. It’s up to the most loyal of knights, Don Ramiro, and his fellow lads to stop it from spreading. Taking blueprints from beloved games that set the standard, Cursed Castilla EX doesn’t hold back in its offering. From the 16-bit pixel aesthetic right down to its upbeat chip music by Gryzor87, this polished throwback will shower you with nostalgia all while feeling completely new. Cursed Castilla EX may as well be a missing chapter from gaming’s history. Within the few first minutes of playing the controls and level design immediately felt like great care went into it; and it does so for all 8 chapters of the game.

Deep in medieval European folklore will be the inspiration for the locations and enemies Don Ramiro will encounter. With nearly 20 bosses in the game and 50 enemy types to come across, there’s no lack of variety in a single playthrough. All players need is their wits about them & one button for jumping and another for attacking. Any of the configurations of A, B, X, & Y inputs may be swapped/mirrored to allow longtime fans of the classics and anyone feel right at home. Jumping is smoother and less punishing than Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, but still requires finesse. Ramiro’s attacks are ranged and different weapon types can be found throughout levels. As a weapon icon is dropped, it will flash to different weapons and players may pick it up as soon as they find the one they like.

Cursed Castilla EX presents a welcome challenge to all players and encourages them to see it to completion without punishing their time. No matter how you choose to play you can exit the game and come back later to “continue” from that level at a later time. Furthermore, because of the high probability that many lives will be lost in the process of the campaign, it’s never game over when it’s Game Over. With limitless continues, players can push forward to the end. The only punishment is bragging rights to your “soul”.

Speedrunners and HI-SCORE bearers will weep the biggest tears as choosing to continue after all lives have been lost will completely reset the score back to 0. Like most casual and experienced players, high scores are probably the last thing they care about. The best part about progress in Cursed Castilla EX is that players will always resume at the start of the last screen transition they were on. This means if you died at a boss, received a game over and chose to continue, then you will start at that boss again. The only things revoked are desired weapon and helpful secondary pickups.This seems plenty necessary as there are 4 different endings and how you choose to go about it will depict where the game stops even when you’re far in. Plenty of replayability here with the hidden secrets and alternate paths to take.

Traps and environmental objects can hurt you and are considered enemies alongside the mythical and undead creatures. You may need to dodge oncoming projectiles for some of them or time your movement back & forth attack when there’s an opening. Some enemy types behave differently coming from different angles, positioned in one spot, or may chase you until they have been killed. One of the best encounters are the bosses. This game’s mid-bosses could very well be the level’s end bosses in other games because they’re just as unique and fun to battle. Though numerous player deaths may occur, it’s a good feeling to pick up where you left off and tackle right through them the next time.

Secondary items are passive and extremely useful. You may come across a blue fairy who will float above you and attack enemies when you do. Good for extra damage and aerial types. Although these also take in the slot of a essential items. Finding a key to a door will replace the blue fairy and vice-versa. Other items include a Shield. Although Don Ramiro will always carry a shield, this item behaves as being able to take any single blow without losing health.

Cursed Castilla EX also features display options. Players can choose to play in either Full Screen or Pixel Perfect ratio. Both options come with default borders, but Full Screen will reduce their real estate.

Players may also choose to play with classic arcade screen filter or without it. Both look exceptional and the pixel graphics accommodate either choice.

HD rumble is also featured here. Though it’s only subtle nuances to actions, it’s a welcomed addition that was taken into account. More features included definitely put the game into perspective of its contents. In-game encyclopedias detail the game’s lore diving into its characters, beastiary and even act as a music player. Flipping left & right through the pages are animated in pixel form. Each page’s contents are hidden until players have come across them in the game, but it’s a nice way to know just how much has been missed.

Achievements and Stats are recorded throughout your adventure. For the dedicated, multiple playthroughs will be required and is highly encouraged for different results. Thankfully with the game’s pick up & play design, fun levels, secrets, enjoyable 16-bit jingles with the soundtrack, and bosses who you want to best… it’s easy to want to take it from the start again.

Summary
Cursed Castilla EX is on Nintendo Switch and it may as well be the best version. In a time where 2D pixel-art have made a huge comeback, don't let Cursed Castilla EX get lost in the shuffle. Cursed Castilla EX respects your time when playing it and Locomalito has certainly earned my respect as a developer after playing it. Fans of Super Ghouls n' Ghosts/Ghosts & Goblins looking for something on par should look no further. With tight controls, carefully crafted levels, hidden secrets and fantastic bosses... Cursed Castilla EX is all-around quality and a polished experience.
The Stellar
  • Enjoyable soundtrack.
  • Nice 16-bit graphics.
  • Great level design with secrets, paths and lots of boss variety,
  • Tight controls.
  • Multiple endings, display options and extra content in menus.
  • Great challenge without all the punishment.
The Lesser
  • No border removal or screen stretch option, but that's hardly a knock.
8.5
Pretty Good
Gameplay - 8.5
Visual - 8.5
Audio - 8
Value - 9

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