Title: Castle Clout 3D
Release Date: January 30, 2014
Angry Birds in an Age of Empires setting – that’s what Castle Clout 3D is. (I’m aware that the Age of Empires games have a variety of historical time-spans, but it’s cumbersome to point that out in the opening sentence). Teyon have published plenty of downloadable 3DS games before, but they’ve been just the developer on this one, having teamed up with Selectsoft.
Like in Angry Birds, you fire at a distant structure trying to finish off the enemies – in this case enemy soldiers taking cover of their fortifications. You’re equipped with a trebuchet at the start and it fires only stones, but as the game progresses you unlock items such as a ballista and better projectiles – iron balls, explosive barrels, that sort of thing. You get five shots to finish off all enemies and some levels in there are captured allies that you are not supposed to kill or you’ll have to restart the level. Based on how few shots you use, you get a gold cup, silver cup, bronze cup or if you used all five shots, nothing at all. The ballista can be moved some distance to get a better shot – this was something new for me in this genre but in a bid for realism the ballista moves absurdly slowly with an annoying whining noise that kind of renders moot the fact that such games are supposed to be played in short bursts instead of watching a ballista crawl for several minutes before finally firing. Both the touch screen and the buttons can be used for controlling – a combination of the two worked best for me – moving the camera back and forth with the Circle Pad and moving, aiming and shooting with the touch screen.
After a bunch of levels enemy shields are introduced which reflect your projectile from the enemy fortifications. This could have been very interesting in some of the levels – and from the level design in those it’s obvious the developer wanted to do the same thing but didn’t put enough time into implementing proper physics into the shields. They don’t reflect your projectile at a proper angle as the laws of Physics say – instead, they seem intent on just throwing the projectiles upward and a little way back. This makes many levels in which an enemy is in a narrow area with a shield on one or both sides very frustrating.
The game doesn’t map the trajectory of your previous projectile to let you get a better shot if you don’t hit it spot-on the first time, and in all honesty playing this game relies more on trial and error than anything else. After the initial mild amusement the first few levels provided this game became a colossal bore.
The graphics are OK for such a game. the backgrounds are fine and the structures are OK-looking at first, but when they’re hit, in most cases the textures immediately warp from a detailed structure to a completely bare one to show that it’s weakened. The enemy sprites and the ally sprites (which are just recoloured enemy sprites) look bad. The weapons, especially the trebuchet, look nice.
The music, what little there is, is bad and the sound effects are downright infuriating. I realize that such games commonly don’t have music while you’re lining up your shot, but when you do when a small Medieval-sounding trumpet plays and it brings back horrible memories of some terrible online game that I played and have, happily, forgotten the name of. And quite honestly, given the lack of effort put into this game I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it was lifted from said forgotten game. While you’re lining up your shot you’ll be hearing the endless chirping of crickets. Given how boring this game soon became it fits in an ironic way, if you think about it.
The voices of dying enemies (and allies – they make the same sounds) were hilariously bad. But the sound effect of Medieval machinery put the lid on. This sound effect plays through everything to do with your machinery. Moving the ballista? Listen to the whiny sound effect. Lining up your shot with the trebuchet? Listen to the same torture of a sound effect. It’s like someone recorded a wheelbarrow with a squeaky wheel, then morphed it with Rebecca Black’s vocals and put it in the game.
The 3D effect can be enabled, but it neither gives a lot of real depth to the screen nor makes anything pop out. Pushing up the 3D slider just makes the screen wider. As for presentation … the loading screens have a cut-in-half Medieval illustration and the same corny text: “Save your people as fast as you can.” No need to say any more.
There is very, very little about Castle Clout 3D that’s good or even OK. It can’t even be recommended even if it’s free – and guess what? This game is a 3DS version of a free online game. Which explains why it’s so terrible in the first place, but I deemed it more prudent to say this at the end of the review so it jumps out at people who didn’t know and warns them to stay far, far away from this game.
Overall Score: 2/10