When I put a review together, I try to aim for around the 1000 word mark regardless of the game. But sometimes a game is so underwhelming that it can be a real struggle to put together anything more than a couple of sentences. Hence I have to get creative and pad things out a bit. So here goes….
Firstly, this isn’t going to be for you Millennials so you might as well skip on to the end. For the rest of you, cast your mind back for a minute to your youthful days. Games were expensive, and I mean expensive. On average a Super Nintendo title was around the £40 to £50 mark which meant it took months for me to save the cash from my paper round until I could afford a new game. Hence picking which game to purchase was important and as such I would read every magazine review possible to help me decide what to get next. Every now and again however, my Mum would decide just randomly that she wanted to buy me and my brother a new game out of the blue. Sometimes we would all be out shopping together, hence this was rather cool. Other times however, mum would be out by herself when the sudden urge to reward her perfect children would land and what she returned with was a complete lottery. In these ‘fend for her self’ scenarios, she was at the mercy of a combo of the not so helpful store staff, the box art and the single sentence marketing bollocks printed on the back of the box. Sadly, this often meant that her gesture of kindness would more often than not result in some utter turd of a game entering the house. These games were usually cash-in clones of other games, implemented so poorly they only survived around 5 minutes in the console before being thrown into the back of a draw never to see the light of day again. Sometimes, these special games would come in 3 pack ‘value’ bundles, the sight of which was enough to set off any gamers ‘red alert’ but to the unsuspecting adult was the perfect gift being 3 games for the price of 1. Poor Mum, she tried. But if you ever wondered who bought all these shit games, hence causing the shop shelves to fill with even more, then you can firmly blame parents, grand parents, aunts, uncles and pretty much any other form of non-gaming relative. Anyway, I think you by now can guess where I’m going with this… Well, Maldiata Castilla isn’t quite that crap, it sits a little above those special purchases but only marginally.
Before I rant on, as this is a a review I should probably talk a little more about the game! Maldiata Castilla was originally released back in 2012 on the PC and is an arcade side-scroller that very much pays homage to 80’s era games such as Ghosts’n Goblins. Developer Locomalito has now ported the game to both the Xbox One and PS4 under the new title of ‘Maldiata Castilla EX’, although I have absolutely no idea what the EX stands. Using my Spanish translation skills (Google) that roughly translates to ‘Cursed Castle’ which I guess makes sense seeing as you play the role of a knight who has to fight your way to a nearby castle and defeat some evil folk to rescue a princess. The story, characters and bosses in the game are all tied in to Spanish mythology so if you happen to know anything about that then I guess parts of the game should make sense to you. It takes place over 6 levels, each of which is broken down into roughly 3 short sub-sections which climax with a boss battle. As you traverse it’s worlds you can search chests for new weapons and items like spread daggers, shields, throwing axes and even a bolas and hack and slash your way through a mass of varying monsters and beasts. It’s a bit ‘platformer’, particular beyond the first couple of levels and does mix things up a little with some static sections, e.g. a level that plays out on the back of a horse and cart. It’s not really that challenging, and somewhat easy to beat the game in a single sitting although the challenge seems geared more towards getting high scores and completing the game without using a continue which I just couldn’t be bothered to try.
Being a bit more objective, I think the game achieves what the developer set out to do and it seems a fair reflection of the era it’s trying to emulate. It’s gameplay, graphics and sound very much make me reflect back on that era of video gaming history. But for all the reminiscing, I either associate this with specific instances of the story above or compare it unforgivingly to other games from that era that were just miles better. Take Contra 3 for example, which to me is just an awesome game that I still happily play every Christmas with my brother for that fix of classic video game nostalgia. For me it just doesn’t emulate those classics, and as such I endured it rather than enjoyed it.
Anyway, I’ve fluffed this out enough now that I’m past my 1000 word target so I suppose that I should try and close this off with some form of conclusion. Maldiata Castilla EX will appeal to some gamers, in-particular die-hard fans of some of those classic 80’s games, but for me the whole experience was dated and underwhelming. It’s a modern take of some past gameplay mechanics that, much like Slain: Back From Hell, does a good job of demonstrating how much things have changed for the better in the video gaming world. I’m a reasonable retro games fan and still play many classic games (I’ve just this morning received my N64 back from having a HDMI mod so it won’t look like shit on my flat screen TV!) but this reminds me that amongst all those games that I love going back to there were a lot that were outright average or just plain pants and are best left forgotten in the past. If you are thinking of buying this for a retro fix, my advice would be to first check out some other classics from that era, e.g. Contra, Metal Slug or Castlevania to name a few, before lightening your purse or wallet.
Maldita Castilla EX was reviewed with a download code of the PS4 edition, provided by the developer.