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.