It’s no secret as to what Super Crazy Rhythm Castle is all about. In fact, the name of the game itself is likely just as good as any of my attempts at describing what is going on here, so we’ll stick with that. That’s right, it’s a rhythm action game, set in a castle, populated by a load of weird and wonderful characters. Oh, I did alright actually.
Those old enough to remember the once incredibly popular Guitar Hero series, will instantly recognise the gameplay mechanic in use. For the kids out there, how it works is pretty simple. Musical notes will travel from the top of the screen down several tracks, and you will need to hit the corresponding button when they reach the bottom.
There are three different notes which are assigned to the bumpers and the X button. Sounds easy, right? Well the thing about Super Crazy Rhythm Castle is that more often than not, there’s a load of other stuff going on at the same time. But before we get into that, let’s roll back a little.
You start out in hot pursuit of the wonderfully unbalanced King Ferdinand, before falling into one of his traps and becoming lost in the vast labyrinth-like structure of his castle. Not to worry though, he’s there on a handy monitor to taunt and generally wind you up at every turn.
You can choose from a few different characters to play as when you start out, and of course you can recruit more during your adventure. B. Box is one of those available from the start and due to how adorable the little fella is, became an instant favourite of mine.
The castle itself has several themed areas containing a number of rooms where, within each, you will need to perform a song. As I say, it’s a little more complicated as there is usually a puzzle element thrown in to make nailing those notes all the more difficult. It varies, but makes for some memorable set pieces.
The challenges start off simple enough. One of the early levels combines playing the required song with filling money bags (of sorts), and once they burst you’ll need to quickly break away and gather the cash. Super Crazy Rhythm Castle is full of obstacles for you to overcome, such as rotating play areas and paralysing vine monsters as well as gathering materials to repopulate Ferdinand’s minim workforce.
It doesn’t stop there either, because you can acquire special tools that are charged up by your musical prowess which can then be used to carry out some serious demolition. It’s truly brilliant stuff, effectively put together to ensure the gameplay never gets stale.
On your travels you’ll also happen across key items to unlock new levels, as well as new tools and abilities which develop the gameplay. Items such as a pesticide spray and a pan which when banged will make others follow you (yes really), open up numerous opportunities to mix things up.
However, it’s the boss Battles where Super Crazy Rhythm Castle really flexes its creative muscles, fusing the puzzling with the rhythm action. One encounter that stuck with me was a battle of the bands scenario, where each side battled it out for adoration from the packed out music hall. It combined different abilities and offered a solid challenge, but remained good fun throughout whilst being laced with the daft sense of humour which makes Super Crazy Rhythm Castle so gosh darn endearing.
In terms of testing player skills, the regular difficulty offers a challenge, and it certainly ticks up as you explore the castle further. However, for the sadists out there, you can dial up the action to the “pro” setting at pretty much any point. This isn’t only more difficult, but adds an extra note to the tumbling shapes that are fired towards you, in the form of pressing right on the D-Pad. Not only does this make things more complex, but it’s not exactly the most comfortable button to reach in the midst of all the carnage either.
If you choose to blast through the main game, it won’t take you too long to complete Super Crazy Rhythm Castle. Given the price tag of £34.99, it does fall on the expensive side, especially if mastering each song and aiming for the highest scores isn’t really your thing.
I must say, I love the soundtrack to Super Crazy Rhythm Castle. The genre hopping list of songs certainly covers all bases, with plenty of catchy and well produced original songs in there. Sure, I enjoyed some tunes more than others (Gold is an absolute banger), but on the whole it’s a very solid collection.
At numerous points around the castle, you can hop into a phone box and travel to the music lab. This room allows you to play any song you have unlocked, free of distractions. There are four available medals for each, the top one requiring absolute perfection to attain. This isn’t just a place to hone your skills however, because around the lab are several egg tray style chests which contain all sorts of extras once you have enough medals to bust them open.
Never ones to miss an opportunity, Konami have dipped into their rich gaming back catalogue and thrown a few (I’d argue iconic) retro tunes in there for good measure. Once unlocked, you can retreat to a special gaming room where the cartridges are scattered around. What’s adorable is that your avatar has to pick up the cartridge and insert it into the console before you can play the song. It’s not just direct audio ripped from decades ago on offer here, despite how things start. Nope, there are some cracking remixes on offer, and the room’s theme changes to match the music and the game it originates from, in a fantastic little love letter to each title.
If solo play isn’t your bag, Super Crazy Rhythm Castle has you covered. You can invite friends online, or play together locally with drop in and drop out play. It’s a right laugh playing with others, and the difficulty will be scaled up to match the extra pair(s) of hands. For example, the first boss comes with a chunkier health bar but because there are two (or more) players, you can effectively split up to fend off the vine creatures which attempt to stop you, to keep the music flowing smoothly. As always, communication is key (although yelling at each other sometimes works also).
You can also play competitively with up to three other players, in a handful of genuinely hilarious mini games. Versus Race has both players tapping away as usual, however the twist is that hitting notes fuels your engine, and if that runs out you lose. Clouds will pass over, and the arches of many bridges will obscure your vision as you race to the finish line. Another mode is Versus Dance, which tests out each player’s reflexes. The floor will flip and a safe space will be marked, which each player needs to get to before the time runs out. The music changes rapidly too, which helps create a sense of urgency and chaos.
Multiplayer adds another dimension to Super Crazy Rhythm Castle, but that’s not to say it isn’t a blast to play alone too. This type of accessible but challenging gameplay will surely appeal to most, but for music lovers it’s a real treat.
To be honest, Super Crazy Rhythm Castle wasn’t anywhere near my radar. I had completely missed it, and if I hadn’t picked it up for review I probably would have never played it. Thankfully I did, because it’s a game that I enjoyed immensely and couldn’t stop smiling all the way through.
Super Crazy Rhythm Castle is wacky, inventive and a whole lot of fun. If you can see through the asking price, you’ll be tapping away in no time.