Castle Clout Review

Sometimes, being the innovator behind a popular breed of game isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. While Crush the Castle and especially Angry Birds have gone on to become very successful games for the iPhone, it seems that the creator of 2008′s Castle Clout have decided that he wants in on a piece of that action. To that end, Selectsoft has released Liam Bowmer’s free-to-play browser game in a format that is easy to take with you, wherever you go.

Castle Clout sports a pretty basic concept, and between its successors and its own 35 million plays online, you are probably already familiar with the idea: your job is to launch various types of projectiles at your enemy’s stronghold, with the goal of bringing their lives to an end. As you progress from one tower to the next, their strongholds become fortified with new materials, and you gain new projectiles with which to conquer them. And with a well-placed shot, entire structures come crumbling down, taking out numerous members of the opposing king’s court.

Lined up for slaughter.

As with other games of this type, Castle Clout presents some head-scratching moments. Some of the physics of the falling structures are questionable at best. Other instances simply seem to fly in the face of the game’s premise: you cannot hurt the opposing kingdom’s holy men, as that is an instant loss, but when the only man left standing is a court jester, then you’ve failed your own kingdom.

Unlike the cartoony nature of Angry Birds, Castle Clout sports a different aesthetic. People are realistically-proportioned, but they almost never move, and seem more akin to figurines on the battle field. But before a parent goes handing this off to their kids as they might with the irate fowl, they should know that these people still bleed and scream upon meeting their maker.

One significant improvement Castle Clout has above its free-to-play browser counterpart is the controls. You have a choice of two types: one has you tap the screen to start the catapult’s swing, and tap again to loose the projectile. Be it by browser or by iPhone, we found this scheme tough to get used to, as shots typically seemed to go either well past their intended target, or well short of it.

Shoulda brought a winter jacket.

The alternative control method is far more preferable, but not exactly perfect, either. Here, you draw a line from the base of the catapult’s arm outward, moving the arrow that appears up or down to set a trajectory. The problem here is that the projectiles are flung from the other end of the catapult, and it doesn’t seem as though the projectiles go where you aim. And, mind you, you’re aiming blind, because the camera doesn’t pan out, leaving you unable to see your catapult and your targets at the same time. In the end, this control scheme does work better than the original controls, but we couldn’t shake the feeling that they could be better still.

In addition to the 150 levels included, there is also an option for creating and sharing custom stages. While we found the level editor to be a little unwieldy, there are clearly a number of people who have managed to master it and create fun levels of their own. While it doesn’t seem that shared levels can be downloaded for keeps, they are easily accessible for a quick play, and you can even edit stages to their liking and share those.

Beyond the option to create and share content, Castle Clout doesn’t really bring much new to this style of game, and has even been surpassed in some aspects by its successors. It’s a little simpler than Angry Birds, but still fun to play in its own right. And even though it has its share of flaws, it remains surprisingly addictive.

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