Mobile developer Croquis has just released Castle Fantasy [link], a side-scrolling hack-'n'-slash platformer, through the App Store.

Castle Fantasy is something of a "2.25D" affair in that it consists mainly of 2D character and backdrop illustrations (more than 2000 of them, according to the developer) and is played on a 2D plane, but there is a sense of depth conveyed through varying platform heights and, at times, foreground parallax scrolling fields. But, more simply and to the point, it's a very lovely game that's well-illustrated and smoothly animated.

Gameplay involves moving your character through the game's levels -- there are four chapters, each with seven stages -- while collecting gems for power-ups, slashing enemies, and jumping from ledge to ledge. Some of the ghoulish enemies are much more difficult than others, with greater endurance and range weapons. The occasional boss enemy is encountered along the way, as well. At the medium difficulty setting, it's quite a challenging experience. Some of the challenge, however, comes from the game's controls...

Your character is controlled by way of onscreen buttons. Movement is handled via left / right buttons at the lower left (I find it best to treat these as a "slider") while jumps and attacks (both short- and long-range) are triggered by a button cluster at the lower right, with a sort-of fatality button bottom-center. In first playing the game, the controls feel a bit cluttered, but extended play does bring a good deal of familiarity which helps the situation. Still, when the action gets intense, I find myself occasionally attacking when I want to jump or failing to move in the desired direction. It's definitely not a deal breaker, and there's only so far a developer can go in the controls in a game like this on the iPhone, but it's a little frustrating. Also, it takes a little while to get accustomed to the ideal distance and pacing of short-range attacks in order to not get clobbered constantly while delivering your blows. Skill in this regard brings much more success.

Happily, those daunted by the above paragraph can give the game a try before reaching for the wallet, as there's a free, lite version available as well [App Store].

See the developer's gameplay video for a look at the action.

Our forum readers are highly enjoying the game, some calling it one of the best action platformers in the App Store. After the learning curve, there's definitely some intense action to be found in Castle Fantasy. We recommend everyone at least give the light version a try.

App Store Link: Castle Fantasy, $2.99, Castle Fantasy Lite, Free

TouchArcade Rating

  • derp

    Looks like the animation is straight out of Maplestory.

  • derp

    Looks like the animation is straight out of Maplestory.

  • Ariel

    It's a shame that you must use the OS 13.1.3...
    most of the people are using lower versions...

    guess I cant Play or buy this game...

    • djflippy

      With all due respect, "most people" update immediately and would have no idea what would be gained by not updating. People that don't update, for whatever reason, are in the minority.

      • Johnny

        I disagree, 3.1.3 has nothing in it to upgrade for.

  • Ariel

    It's a shame that you must use the OS 13.1.3...
    most of the people are using lower versions...

    guess I cant Play or buy this game...

    • djflippy

      With all due respect, "most people" update immediately and would have no idea what would be gained by not updating. People that don't update, for whatever reason, are in the minority.

      • Johnny

        I disagree, 3.1.3 has nothing in it to upgrade for.

  • Tocarina

    "2.25D"

  • Tocarina

    "2.25D"

  • araczynski

    tried the demo, jumping sucks. passing until that's changed somehow, seems too vertical somehow. art/sound looks good though.

    • araczynski

      thanks for the jumping change! :)

      next... :) i just noticed the melee attack seems to be quite delayed in executing after the first press?

      • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

        I haven't noticed that delay. Are you sure you're not pressing and holding?

  • araczynski

    tried the demo, jumping sucks. passing until that's changed somehow, seems too vertical somehow. art/sound looks good though.

    • araczynski

      thanks for the jumping change! :)

      next... :) i just noticed the melee attack seems to be quite delayed in executing after the first press?

      • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

        I haven't noticed that delay. Are you sure you're not pressing and holding?

  • tsharpfilm

    Finally, another quality 3D game to counter all of the early 90s looking stuff that seems to dominate the iDevices. This looks promising. Trying the lite version now.

    • http://www.ummband.com poutini

      just because it's 3D doesn't mean it's quality. a lot of 16-bit games are prettier with tighter controls than the majority of 64-bit games.

      ps - tried the lite version, and it's pretty repetitive. looks great, but jumping and dodging are not very responsive.

  • tsharpfilm

    Finally, another quality 3D game to counter all of the early 90s looking stuff that seems to dominate the iDevices. This looks promising. Trying the lite version now.

    • http://www.ummband.com poutini

      just because it's 3D doesn't mean it's quality. a lot of 16-bit games are prettier with tighter controls than the majority of 64-bit games.

      ps - tried the lite version, and it's pretty repetitive. looks great, but jumping and dodging are not very responsive.

  • Gilgadood

    Reminds me of prinny: CIRBTH? a bit.

    • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

      I had the same thought. There's even a vertical-drop attack that's very close to Prinny's. I'm finding Castle of Fantasy to be better designed for a portable device, though -- shorter levels, more forgiving gameplay. No question that the controls could use some TLC, but the game is definitely playable as is. Compared with the typical iPhone title, it has an impressive array of assets, nicely done animation, and just fun and engaging.

    • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

      I had the same thought. There's even a vertical-drop attack that's very close to Prinny's. I'm finding Castle of Fantasy to be better designed for a portable device, though — shorter levels, more forgiving gameplay. No question that the controls could use some TLC, but the game is definitely playable as is. Compared with the typical iPhone title, it has an impressive array of assets, nicely done animation, and just fun and engaging.

      [Sorry if this appears twice -- my comments has been awaiting moderation for more than a day]

  • Gilgadood

    Reminds me of prinny: CIRBTH? a bit.

    • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

      I had the same thought. There's even a vertical-drop attack that's very close to Prinny's. I'm finding Castle of Fantasy to be better designed for a portable device, though -- shorter levels, more forgiving gameplay. No question that the controls could use some TLC, but the game is definitely playable as is. Compared with the typical iPhone title, it has an impressive array of assets, nicely done animation, and just fun and engaging.

    • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

      I had the same thought. There's even a vertical-drop attack that's very close to Prinny's. I'm finding Castle of Fantasy to be better designed for a portable device, though — shorter levels, more forgiving gameplay. No question that the controls could use some TLC, but the game is definitely playable as is. Compared with the typical iPhone title, it has an impressive array of assets, nicely done animation, and just fun and engaging.

      [Sorry if this appears twice -- my comments has been awaiting moderation for more than a day]

  • http://sungwooc13.wordpress.com/ David

    reminds me of maplestory hahh still looks fun hahah i would like one and review it on my blog ha

  • http://sungwooc13.wordpress.com/ David

    reminds me of maplestory hahh still looks fun hahah i would like one and review it on my blog ha

  • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

    Update was just released; controls are now pretty much perfect -- as good as The Giana Sisters', as far as I'm concerned. With that issue resolved, what you have now is a fun action platformer with tons of content and beautifully inventive artwork i.e. something that the App Store had been sorely lacking.

  • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

    Update was just released; controls are now pretty much perfect -- as good as The Giana Sisters', as far as I'm concerned. With that issue resolved, what you have now is a fun action platformer with tons of content and beautifully inventive artwork i.e. something that the App Store had been sorely lacking.