Review – Maldita Castilla EX

From Gameronomy (site currently down)

You may have missed Maldita Castilla EX. It’s relatively easy to have done so, popping up without much fanfare in the stream of weird and wonderful indie titles on the Xbox One. Even harder to spot when you also consider the high number of ‘retro’ styled titles on the platform. Maldita Castilla EX is very much worth your time, though. Especially if you played old school, run and gun, platform games such as Ghosts ‘n Goblins, Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, Goblins ‘n Gnomes and Gnomes ‘n Gremlins ‘n Gnomes*

Maldita Castilla EX is a gorgeous and brutally sadistic homage to Ghosts ‘n Goblins et al. It has been such a long time since I last felt like throwing my controller across the room in anger whilst also wanting to continue to play something. The “one more go” fu is strong with this one… but, then, I’ve been a fan since Locomalito released Maldita Castilla as a freebie game on the PC back in 2012. It’s wonderful, though, to now play this whilst sat comfortably on the edge of my sofa, screaming at the TV screen in frustration.

For those new to this sort of game, well, for starters, where have you been for anything up to the past 30 years or so but, also, gameplay is ridiculously straightforward. You run, jump, duck and climb your way through various levels whilst wielding a single weapon. This starts as a sword/dagger that you throw at enemies but can be changed, via pick-ups, into various things such as bombs or axes. You can also pick up other bonuses, like a blue fairy who follows you around and hurls balls of plasma at the baddies. Jumping is a single button, firing/throwing your weapon is a single button – old school arcade simplicity.

Levels are broken up with simple cut-scenes of exposition and bonus levels. If you think all of that sounds simple/basic and quaint then just give it a go. It is fiendishly difficult, frustratingly challenging and exasperating but I mean this in the best way possible.

It’s a love letter to old, hard core, platform games of the Ghosts ‘n Goblins ilk, much like Axiom Verge** is a declaration of love to the original Metroid and Castlevania games. Sure, there are other, similar, games available that try to do what Maldita Castilla EX does (I’m looking at you, Cast of the Seven Godsends – Redux) but they just don’t come across anywhere near as polished or as lovingly crafted. If that sounds like it could be your thing then you should definitely check this out.

*Some of these may not be real, to my knowledge, though probably should be.

**Another beauty of a game. It’s been out on the PS4 for a while but has just recently landed on the XB1.