Cursed Castilla EX (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Matteo Carlarino 17.08.2017

Review for Cursed Castilla EX on Nintendo 3DS

One man, who goes by the name of Juan Antonio Becerra, better known as Locomalito… This is what it takes - along with an extraordinary solution of many great talents, coding genius and artistic inspiration - to replicate the magic formula that forever encapsulated Ghosts 'n Goblins and Ghouls 'n Ghosts in their status of arcade classics. Playing Cursed Castilla EX feels like reviving those unforgettable first steps in Sir Arthur's boots once again. It goes beyond paying homage, or being a mere clone, as it aims for becoming a true spiritual successor to the original Makaimura series, in the modern era.

'The lament of a young witch has been turned into a key for demons into this world. Take on the King's mission and guide Don Ramiro through the cursed lands of Tolomera, in order to expel the evil that entered the Kingdom of Castile!' Simple and concise, Locomalito's own synopsis for Cursed Castilla EX doesn't really prepare the newcomer for the amount of literary and religious references - from Spanish and European mythology - the game is filled with. It oozes atmosphere, from its wonderfully illustrated bestiary, to the sinister soundtrack by Javier Garcia, alias Gryzor87, composed with the intent of emulating the Yamaha YM2203 FM sound chip, and to give the game a genuine arcade beat.

Screenshot for Cursed Castilla EX on Nintendo 3DS

At its very core, Cursed Castilla EX plays no different to Ghouls 'n Ghosts, following pretty much every good action platformer's criteria. Armour-wearing, blade-launching chunky paladins? Check. Multidirectional scrolling stages? Check. Hordes of chilling monsters and revenants to send back downstairs right away? Check. Unlike Arthur, Don Ramiro can count on a slightly more generous stock of hit points - three by default, which can be extended by collecting specific items, such as a shield or invincibility potions - but he can shoot in the four main directions just as well, hitting enemies above him, or whacking them down while in the air.

Compared to the occasionally brutal difficulty of Ghosts 'n Goblins and its sequels, Cursed Castilla EX gives the player a more extensive, overall better, control over Don Ramiro's movements and arsenal. Being able to correct the trajectory of an impetuous jump - just to name a glaring instance - massively helps to keep the action discernible and the challenge fair, even during the most teeth-grinding situations. Weapons and loot drops seem to follow the same logic: while the most relevant items only appear once per continue (otherwise replaced by generic bonus points), it is possible to wait for the weapons' icon to cycle through all the different choices, so everyone can always pick up their favourite one, instead of dealing for ages with undesired junk.

Screenshot for Cursed Castilla EX on Nintendo 3DS

On top of standard swords, three-way daggers, sickles, bolas, axes and holy water bombs, blue fairies can also be found - to offer Don Ramiro some extra fire support - and winged boots allow the hero to double jump, in yet another neat allusion to Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts. Usually hidden in the more treacherous and isolated depths of the map, there are special objects too - such as the keys - that unlock secondary paths to bonus items, and their respective game's achievements.

Screenshot for Cursed Castilla EX on Nintendo 3DS

Like its ancestors, Cursed Castilla EX can get exacting, but it never feels overwhelming or plain cheap, and enemy patterns - even the most intricate and cruel - can be debunked with a good measure of diligence. Unlimited continues ease things up to all appearances, as the game threatens the wimps who indulge themselves too much, to take away their very soul. Shall the saviour of Castile only pursue the perfect speedrun, spectate all the four different endings and free the kingdom without losing a single life!

Visually, Cursed Castilla EX falls nothing short of beautiful, with some exquisite sprite work and luscious parallax scrolling, which can also benefit from the console's stereoscopic capabilities. The game itself cleverly makes use of an arcade cabinet overlay, with the upper display being the actual monitor - worth noting how the subtle scanlines generated by the 3DS LCD perfectly compliment the default 1:1 ratio mode - and the touch screen working as the cab's main body, DIP switches' bay included.

Screenshot for Cursed Castilla EX on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Retro to its heart, Cursed Castilla EX incorporates suggestions from medieval paintings, locations and chivalry novels - The Amadis of Gaul above all - on top of a plethora of arcade evergreens, such as Black Tiger, Rygar and Rastan. It's a compendium of arcade perfection, and, as such, it comes exceptionally recommended. Now, if only the good people at Abylight would consider porting over The Curse of Issyos, Hydorah and Gaurodan, too…






2D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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