Back Off Barbarian is a mini-game in the game Castle Crashers.
The player (represented by a small board game-like piece) has to hop around an isometric playing field trying to avoid getting stomped on by enemies chasing them down.
The challenge comes from the mixed up controls. Every tile has a button printed on it, and to move there, the player has to press the button shown on the tile instead of just pushing the direction they want to move in. With several enemies at the same time, pushing the correct buttons in the correct order can be extremely stressful and confusing. Managing the playing space and staying calm in the face of danger is what Back Off Barbarian is all about.
There are a variety of maps to play on, chosen randomly from a set list. The available stages are:
- A forest dotted with small ponds and trees.
- An area that looks to be the entrance to Home Castle with a drawbridge overhanging a moat.
- A level with a castle wall and large wooden door. It's like the previous one, but with no moat.
- A larger, more jungle like forest with a river to cross and a hill to climb.
- A rocky, mountainous area with a large narrow cliff.
- A tundra reminiscent of Snow World (with special Iceskimo enemies).
- A fiery level with lava and volcanic rock which seems to be a portion of Lava World (with unique Fire Demon enemies).
There are several game mechanics in Back Off Barbarian to spice things up. Most of them are exclusive to multiplayer games, but some are universally available.
Enemy landing spots
A new enemy will drop from the sky every 30 seconds or so. When they do, a bright red cross-hair will appear on the tile where they will spawn. It's very important to keep an eye out for these, as if one spawns on top of a player, they can get crushed or be put in a very bad situation.
When the player is very close to getting crushed, or when they spam hops in random directions, the playable character will start to sweat. This means that the character is tired, and that the player should try to chill out and move more carefully. Being tired will increase the cooldown time in-between hops, and can lead to the player character's death if it happens in a dangerous scenario. There isn't any indication of how close the character is to getting tired, but the lost energy can be recovered pretty quickly by slowing down the movements. Enemies will also attack faster and harder when they are near a tired player character, slamming themselves down with a thump. The more the player dodges them before moving away, the faster they will attack.
Potions and the Sad Meter
When a player character dies in co-op mode, other players can bring them back to life by snagging the potions spawned around the stage. The potions disappear after a while, so it's very important to make grabbing them a main focus. If you don't grab the potion, then the sad meter will appear. This meter will slowly tick up and eventually end the game when filled to the top. The way to bring the meter down is to respawn the dead character with a potion. After missing the first potion, the player will have 1 or 2 more chances to get a different one before the meter fills and results in a game over. Opinions on this mechanic are mixed, as a lot of people feel that it is too much of a hindrance when playing with inexperienced players.
Surviving for a whopping two minutes and thirty seconds will reward the player with the achievement "The Final Countdown." It is currently the second rarest achievement in the Steam Version of Castle Crashers.
The general best strategy is to restart until the game selects a map with more open space, (e.g. Snow World) and keep going in circles around the edge of the level, only stopping to escape from getting tired or to dodge a spawning enemy. When using this method, the player should also avoid going too fast, or they might accidentally lap the enemies and end up right behind them.
Another way to cheat the system is to repeatedly pause the game, see which buttons line up to which squares, and then unpause before hitting the button. It can make the final few seconds of chaos a lot more easy to manage, and it can be a lifesaver in sticky situations.
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