Indie Quickie: The Big Big Castle

It takes a lot longer to fully review a game than it does to get a good sense of what a game is. Even with a full-time staff of writers it would be impossible to fully review the thousands of games that are released every year. Indie Quickie is our way to offer snap impressions of the countless indie titles small teams and one-man game studios are releasing literally every single day, and to help guide players to worthwhile games they may not have heard about before.

TheBigBigCastle

What is it? Why, it’s a big, big castle-building game. Turn your finger into a virtual medieval crane as you construct precarious 800-foot edifices out of disparate castle pieces, tuck peasants, nobles and bricks of TNT into the ledges and gothic arches, then bop over to the Destroy mode and bring your—and your Gamecenter friends’– castles, cathedrals and holiday palaces down.

Who made it and where can you get it? Beep Games, Inc. are the architects of this medieval building exercise, available on iPad for a mere farthing—otherwise known as 99 cents.

How much did we play? We earned the king’s respect by completing more than half of the levels in the three main Build missions, and used cannonballs and UFOs to reduce more than ten monolithic stone and gingerbread castles to bits of tiny dust. Righteous!

Any technical concerns or hardware requirements you should know about? Nay, good squire. Follow your crazy Babel vibe as high as it will take you. Just don’t try stacking a gothic window arch on a cathedral spire or too many holiday sleds on a present or we’re all screwed.

BigBigCastle_1 BigBigCastle_2

Why should you play it?

    • You Works With the Blocks You Gots: If The Big Big Castle gave you unrestricted access to the game’s library of blocks, pillars and statues, you’d be able to construct sturdy and symmetrical 10,000-foot towers to rival Westminster and the Sistine Chapel. Instead, you’re given only four pieces at a time, and you quickly have to get creative balancing ginormous stained-glass window blocks on teeny gargoyle pillars. You can stash and swap pieces from your castle and your piece menu to try to get a little practical variety, but there’s no getting around it: If symmetry is your thing, the build mode is your architectural nightmare.

    • Sire, You Are So Droll: The text introductions to the missions are routinely hilarious, with the king, the bishop and Santa himself busting sarcastic about wayward princesses, cannonball-happy rival kingdoms and burritos in the cathedral confessional. Take a second to read through them; you’ll be glad you did.

    • Dude, That’s One Strong Balloon: Clearly, the helium in ye olden times was industrial grade. In many of the levels, you’ll be building up to castle pieces (and princesses, and peasants) that are suspended several hundred feet in the air by balloons. Your job, obviously, is to build your structure up to the point where you can pop the balloon and not have the stone break or princess fall to her gruesome death. Having to tap and place multiple falling objects leads to some frantic moments.

    • Aim Low, Fire Lasers Frequently: The game’s Destroy mode has a distinctly Angry Birds flavor to it, as you aim cannonballs and pilot l’il UFOs to blast away at the buildings you and your friends have created and saved. Destroying isn’t quite as fun as creating, but it’s still fun to rack up monster scores as 2,000 feet of stone and stained glass becomes 10 in the space of a single shot.

Parting Thoughts: Clever and humorous presentation are the cornerstones of The Big Big Castle. And it’s easy to waste lots of time building your castles skyward. Truthfully, the only serious drawback here is the inability to scroll your build-mode view from side to side so you can see the entire building area. Unless you enter zoom mode, a mode in which you can’t place or move any blocks–you can’t see beyond the center part of the building area. And as any medieval architect will tell you, placing 10-ton stone turrets blind is a bad, bad idea.

About the Author

Aaron R. Conklin has been writing about games and games culture for more than 15 years. A former contributor to Computer Games Magazine and Massive Magazine, his writing has appeared on IGN.com and in newspapers and alt-weeklies across the country. Conklin's an unapologetic Minnesota sports fan living in Madison, Wisconsin, home of the Midwest's most underrated gaming vibe.