Well this is a blast from the past.

Castlestorm is a peculiar, interesting little game, one I've poked at a couple times over the years. Originally released in 2013, the game is a mix of a bunch of genres we don't actually see a lot of anymore, forming a blend that feels downright unique just five years later.

The actual premise is simple, set in a comical fantasy land where a vaguely-English royal army faces down an invading Viking horde. The royal army has to, of course, defend itself with all means available, though not everything is as it first seems...

So all of this is fairly well-treaded ground. It's the execution where things get interesting. Because CastleStorm basically has three separate mechanical layers going on at once in a given stage, and each of them presents something very different.

The first is your ballista. Both you and your enemy have a fort, and one of the ways to win a stage is to just destroy that damn fort, Angry Birds era destruction-game style. You've got a lot of tools to do that with, but you only get to take five into a stage with you. What will it be? Reliable but weak javelins? Cracking explosives? Versatile heavy impact? The shotgun-like splitting stones? or some of the more esoteric options?

This, alone, makes the game feel like something I haven't done in a while. There was that entire wave of 2D destruction physics sims, on phones and flash sites and even on some actual consoles, and then they just...Vanished, as the fad fizzled and Angry Birds dominated the mental space of the market so thoroughly that nobody could really stand against it.

But then we get to the second layer, and things start getting interesting. These are your troops, who are...Well, the way I can describe it is it feels like they're in a side-on version of the sort of space that tower defense and MOBA games operated on, in their early days as funky Warcraft mods. 

Soldiers basically get spawned on your command, and then go totally on autopilot, either marching forward for melee guys or lining up shots if they're ranged. And since troops always fight one on one, there's this MOBA-esque lane management thing going on. But unlike the MOBA buddies, your troops can firmly win you the day by breaching the enemy's gates, stealing their flag, and carting it back to your front door.

And lastly, you've got the spell and hero layer, which is where the MOBA comparisons get really direct. Aside from just some straight-up attack and defense spells, you can summon controllable hero units onto the battlefield. Heroes can't carry flags, but they canchew through basically everything thrown at them short of boss enemies. Hero units only last a short time by default, outside of special missions where you just play as them, but their presence can still totally change the flow of battle.

These elements, on their own, would each be an interesting meaty concept to focus a game on. But all together, it ends up being this crazy back-and-forth through a parallel evolution of a bunch of ideas from a few years back, shifting from destruction-engine to lane combat and back again.

Oh, and I didn't even mention this yet, but the Switch version of the game is one of those Definitive Edition dealios. So it's got all the various expansions and extra campaigns and stuff all bolted in there ready to go.

And on top of all of that, you've even got the side modes like skirmishes, and the multiplayer that lets you do all this against another human being instead of just the AI.

So it's fair to say that Castlestorm is simply packed with content. And a lot of that content is really, really solid. But where are the wrinkles, then?

Well, they're in a few spots.

While the performance in a level is rock solid even in handheld, I've noticed load times can be a bit longer than I'd like. This is hardly the first game to have that problem when squeezed into the Switch, so I'm not exactly surprised when it happens, but it's still unfortunate.

There's also the trouble of aiming with the ballista. While you can in theory make fine adjustments with the dpad, that requires making a clean exit off the analog stick, which is a fussy endeavor at best. So a lot of the time you just have to accept somewhat rough shooting at more distant targets...Such as, you know, the enemy fort.

But, I mean, these are small details. The biggest problem that the game has, is one we've had a few times before. And that's the likelihood that you already own it somewhere else. Between the original 360 and Windows versions, the Wii U and PS3/Vita ports, and the PS4/Xbox One updates, it's very likely that you ended up with this in some sale or premium freebie somewhere down the line. Which, I mean, is a pretty fair problem.

At the same time...It's one we've been down before. This is, also, a game that really works in a portable format, with tight little chunks of gameplay. (There's a reason it had a Vita version back when that meant something) And at the end of the day, if the worst thing I can say is "You might already be able to play this good game", that's not exactly a stinging dismissal.

So where does that leave us?

Simple. Castlestorm is a really solid game with a lot of really cool ideas. Ideas that were an interesting mix of familiar concepts when it first came out, and now feel downright innovative after its original era has so quickly passed. I'm not saying go buy it twice, but I amsaying get it the one time and play it.