hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

BattleBlock Theater
 BLOG ABOUT THIS

Review: BattleBlock Theater

11:00 AM on 04.03.2013 // Chris Carter
  @DtoidChris

A chip off the old block

After nearly five years of development time, BattleBlock Theater is finally here. Following the success of Castle Crashers, it would stand to reason that The Behemoth has some big shoes to fill, and for many, the suspense is killer.

So I'll just cut to the chase here: it was worth the wait if you're a platforming fan.

BattleBlock Theater (Xbox Live Arcade)
Developer: The Behemoth
Publisher: The Behemoth
Released: April 3, 2013
MSRP: 1200 MSP ($14.99)

After all these years, many people are still confused as to what the game even is. So let me clear the air: it's a co-operative and competitive platformer. At its core, that's basically it -- but of course, there's so much more to it than that.

The story is the main draw here, as it contains that classic Behemoth charm you know and love -- kicked up to 11. This time around, we have a colorful and excited narrator (William Stamper, who is fantastic) that really gets the job done and draws you into the insane world of BattleBlock. A world which, by the way, takes place in a giant gladiatorial slave pit dressed as a theatrical stage, in which your best friend (Hatty Hattington, who may or may not be under mind control) has forced you to partake in mysterious games of death and destruction.

From the very first intro cinematic, you'll get the gist of what The Behemoth was trying to accomplish here, which is to put a smile on your face at all times. Whether you're laughing at a cat puppet bashing in marshmallow men in Muppets fashion, or a giant chicken head throwing explosive frogs with tophats with the intention of blowing up cats, BattleBlock manages to keep things fresh and interesting throughout the entire campaign. It's kind of like a mishmash of Behemoth's humor to date -- an "all stars" collection if you will -- and pretty much anything is fair game.

One of my favorite parts of the game thematically is that the narrator will often comment on your in-game progress, yelling things like "OH MY GOODNESS GRACIOUS" at the top of his lungs if you were to say, burst into flames. The wacky soundtrack that's so typical of Behemoth is also back in full force, and old fans will find a number of nods to past games buried within the recesses of the game's vibrant visuals and score.

So what do you do, exactly? Quite simply, the object is to get to the end of the level -- traversing enemies, traps, and different types of blocks to reach your goal. In each level, you'll be able to find a number of gems, and one ball of yarn, which can be exchanged for new characters and weapons respectively. In order to complete a level, all you need to do is find three gems -- the rest of the booty is entirely optional.

At its surface, it may look like a typical platformer that doesn't really do much for the genre. But the key here is that BattleBlock truly innovates the approach to co-op platforming. Through the simple mechanics of throwing partners to safer ground, riding in boats, timing jumps, pulling each other up on ledges and using your heads to reach higher ground, you'll figure out your own number of methodologies to approach each level.

There were many times where my wife and I would stop, take in our surroundings, and figure out how to tackle the next challenge, which is a refreshing change of pace in this era of hand holding. In the next breath, we were outrunning a skill based twitch obstacle that had an obvious solution, but was easier said than done in terms of besting it.

Due to all of these factors (the sharing of humor included), the game is best enjoyed with other players -- whether that's through couch play or online (which supports both the campaign and arena modes). The levels are completely reworked if you're playing solo so that they're possible without team moves, and as such, a lot of the magic is lost when you're just trekking through by yourself.

Having said that, the game's Arena mode will be your ongoing source of enjoyment after you've done everything there is to do in the roughly five hour campaign. There are eight diverse modes of play (plus community playlists), which range from the wacky Capture the Horse (Capture the Flag, with a cute rideable horse), to Muckle (basically Super Smash Bros.), to Ball Game (basketball).

My favorite gametypes are Color the World (similar to Graffiti from Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, but 2D and awesome) and Challenge (a competitive, head to head time trial race). All of the Arena's modes are playable with four players, but the latter two are extremely intense unique experiences that are rarely offered up in any game, much less the platforming genre.

For the most part, there's really something for everyone here, even if you only stick to one or two modes. Behemoth also has a catch in place that will find any open game available if you choose the Quick Match option, ensuring that the community won't become segmented in all of the different modes, which can be confusing and overbearing at first. If you're interested, there are also leaderboards to keep you on your toes.

Compared to say, LittleBigPlanet, the level editor isn't nearly as robust as it could be. You really can create anything the game offers up in the levels provided by Behemoth, but the tools available don't really transcend that of a basic platforming experience.

Then again, BattleBlock never claims to innovate on that front, instead settling on providing a tighter, more traditional (and less floaty) engine that does pretty much everything you want your avatar to do. As I've already stated, the game rewards skill and precision, which is increasingly evident in the competitive time trial mode online, which succeeds in placating the speed-run demon inside of me.

Content wise, this game is bursting at the seams. With cross-game promotion add-ons, tons of heads to unlock (that you can trade with other players), new weapons, replayable online and offline game modes, bonus levels, encore story levels, collectibles to capture, A+ grades to earn for every level, and the level editor with community challenges, you'll be at BattleBlock for quite a while. The best part is that months from now, you'll also be able to go in and play fresh Behemoth or community created content, without having to fiddle with any DLC (which the developer has informed me they have "no current plans for" at this time).

If you absolutely positively hate platformers, I'm not so sure you'll enjoy BattleBlock Theater. Unlike Castle Crashers which had the benefit of the simplistic, pick up and play beat 'em up genre, you get more out of BattleBlock the more you're willing to put into it. Positive reinforcement is gained through skill and triumph rather than simply bashing things in mindlessly, so in that regard, the universal appeal is a bit lower than most of Behemoth's older titles.

But as long as you're willing to give it a chance, you'll reap the rewards of a fairly deep, interesting game that was built with a lot of heart. I can't wait to see how Behemoth follows this up, and I hope it doesn't take five years to do it.



THE VERDICT

9

BattleBlock Theater - Reviewed by Chris Carter
Entrancing - It's like magic, guys. Time disappears when this game and I are together, and I never want it to end. I'm not sure if this is a love that will last forever, but if it is, you'll get no complaints from me.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Chris Carter, Reviews Director
 Follow Blog + disclosure DtoidChris Tips
Chris (Magnalon) has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff! -----------... more   |   staff directory



 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

TheAngriestCarp avatarTheAngriestCarp
Gotta love all those Dtoid community members that magically appear whenever there's a giveaway.
DSBrad avatarDSBrad
Newest Madden may be one of my favorites. Been taking all my time up.
TheDefenestrator avatarTheDefenestrator
TWITCHTOID! I'll be playing some more PS4 Zombi and then some Until Dawn if'n I want to change things up. Link: [url=http://www.twitch.tv/thedefenestrator]Twitch.tv: TheDefenestrator[/url]
Fenriff avatarFenriff
Bless Wasteland 2's custom portraits [img]http://i.imgur.com/JuWaB1W.png?1[/img]
James Internet Ego avatarJames Internet Ego
Sorting out a bunch of university stuff and going through a bit of writers block. I'm also holding some of my best stuff back for freelancing purposes (uni ain't cheap!), so sorry if my blogs have been a bit lackluster lately. And will be for 4-ish weeks.
gajknight avatargajknight
Been looking for a car to buy today. I swear, I am so sick of my mums voice. "It's too expensive!" "Don't you think it's a little big..." "INSURANCE!" Goddamn woman, chill your beans.
ChillyBilly avatarChillyBilly
Hey look! I bought some toys and stuff and junk and what-not. [IMG]http://i22.photobucket.com/albums/b321/Felth/Mobile%20Uploads/2015-08/IMAG0656.jpg~original[/IMG]
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
Yes, it's essentially a trace job, but this is my first piece of pixel art: [img]http://i.imgur.com/N0zmHiL.png[/img]
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
Oh for fuck's sake, why is there no Netflix app for my PSTV?
Zenbrains avatarZenbrains
A new fun game for iOS and Android devices. Featuring a beautiful minimalistic design and an easy gesture based interface. Hope you'll like it. [url] https://itunes.apple.com/app/id1022015201[/url] [img]http://bit.ly/1EtWjdJ[/img]
Ben Davis avatarBen Davis
Apologies for the lack of Experience Points lately! I'm taking a short break from writing them, but don't worry. They'll be back soon enough!
RexterNathan avatarRexterNathan
Am I the only one excited to play the Forza Motorsport 6 demo?
The Travisionist avatarThe Travisionist
Adventure games are a big part of the indie scene, but there's a reason their popularity plummeted as graphics evolved. This clicking on everything, just in case, nonsense is for the birds. 90s birds, but birds.
Flegma avatarFlegma
Spotted some "The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3" (1989) DVDs in a store. Hearing music and sound effects from the game is more amusing than it should be - although the running shrill gets old quickly.
extatix avatarextatix
Diablo 3 patch 2.3.0 equals more grinding. Good.
BaronVonSnakPak avatarBaronVonSnakPak
Funny coincidence: Last week saw the release of Until Dawn, which talked about a Canadian tribe of Native Americans called the Cree,and last night a Cree woman (Ms. Canada) won the Ms. Universe contest. Butterfly Effect updated.
MeeGhoulz avatarMeeGhoulz
Playing UNTIL DAWN 1st time:I'm alright with QTE,but an option to use direction as choices instead of buttons poppin' on screen would be welcome!Also:NO SHINY ITENS TO INDICATE CLUES!LET ME DISCOVER THEM!All in all,it's fun enough...
IDrawOnTape avatarIDrawOnTape
If I was to play through the NES library, besides being madness, what order do I do it? Alphabetically or Release date-wise? Whats the Dtoid universe think?
Gundy avatarGundy
Maybe someday I'll finish Natural Doctrine AKA Natty Doc...
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
You've got guts, a powerful soul You've got guts, sweet and sour You've got guts, do the guts A man sweats, he really does, go!
more quickposts


Contest!


destructoid's previous coverage:
BattleBlock Theater


  Mar 04

Worth the wait: BattleBlock Theater headed to Steam

Watch the full video to see Gabe Newell as a cat


  Apr 11

The Behemoth details how to get featured in BattleBlock

Get a free chicken and get your playlist online


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!



Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -