BattleBlock Theater is a Xbox Live Arcade title by Behemoth, creators of the famously popular XBLA game Castle Crashers. From the moment you load the game, BBT feels like the spiritual successor to Castle Crashers in almost every way. From crude fart humor to the unique hand-drawn art style, it all feels inspired by their previous work.
BattleBlock Theater’s Facebook page describes the game as “a platforming, cat-fighting, puzzle solving 2D adventure” which sums up the game very well. The opening cinematic informs the player that she is aboard a ship with many friends, but the friendliest friend on the friend ship is Hatty Hattington. While on the open sea, a squall descends upon the ship of friends, tossing many overboard and ultimately stranding the rest on an island. From here, you enter the BattleBlock Theater.
My very first thought about the game went something like, “Someone needs to get this narrator a Xanax.” My second thought, however, was how much this game reminded me of playing Sonic the Hedgehog. The side-scrolling action, the double-jumping, the myriad of random deadly items scattered around the level, and the puzzle-esque level structure. BattleBlock Theater requires the player to not only navigate spaces littered with lethal obstacles, but to dodge acorn-hurling squirrels, antler wearing dog-things and several other quirky baddies.
One of the great things about BattleBlock Theater is the multiple ways in which you can play. It features single and co-op campaigns in addition to an XBOX Live multiplayer mode. There’s also a creation mode where players can show off their warped visuospatial skills and forge their own levels. The game boasts “hundreds” of levels across the various game modes, each more frantic, bizarre, and twisted than the last.
The game organizes your adventures into three-scene acts, after which the players can hit up the in-game store and trade gems for new, shiny character customization. In addition to gems you find in the levels, you can snatch up balls of yarn to exchange for weapons such as a Frisbee-land mine or acid bubble blower. Then, at the end of each chapter, players run the merciless gauntlet of a time-trial course.
Overall, the gameplay is fun and frantic and highly enjoyable whether playing solo, local, or over XBOX Live. BattleBlock Theater is wildly imaginative and demands imagination from its players through puzzle solving and the level creator. There is so much to do - achievements, gems, yarn, customizable character features - it is hard to believe all of it was packed into an XBLA title. The only drawback I experienced with the game was the narrator. I’m sure people love high-energy, sometimes funny but often denigrating, sarcastic commentary, but I found it to be obnoxious. Despite the ‘You Don’t Know Jack’ style of narration, I still enjoyed the game and recommend everyone check it out.
Written by PMS Goosechecka. Goosechecka is a member of the PMS|H2O Editorial Team and the Content and Community Manager at GrifballHub.com. You can follow her on Twitter!
All photos taken from the game's official website.