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Battleblock Theater Review

Written by  Darrel Patrick Herring
Developer: The Behemoth
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Genre: Platformer 
Release Date: 03.04.2013 
Official Site: http://www.battleblocktheater.com/

 

Battleblock Theater is the newest game by Castle Crashers creators - the Behemoth; it is yet another action-packed 2D adventure, all though this time around the adventure is a bit more puzzling... Shipwrecked on an island, taken captive by evil creatures, betrayed by the best friend of all your best friends (Hatty Hattington), forced to participate in a monstrous show filled with despair and death in which you have to scramble through and collect as many gems as you can to please your villainous imprisoners, this is the fate that awaits you and your friends in Battleblock Theater. They are all scared, and it is up to you to stand forward and take everything your filthy captors can throw at you! Who knows, maybe you will eventually be able to find a way out and escape with all your lovely friends, and move on to have bigger (but maybe less ‘exciting’) adventures.

The story mode of Battleblock Theater is split up into eight chapters; each chapter is split up into nine normal scenes, a finale, and three optional encore scenes. The nine normal scenes are your basic levels, the finale is basically two time trial levels that share a timer, and the encores are just trickier time trial levels. The object of each level is to get as many gems as you can and as quickly as you can before heading over to the exit. The amount of gems in a level varies from the tiny amount of three gems all the way up to the great magnitude of nine whole gems! You need to get at least three gems to open the exit, the others are pretty much just optional. However, you will get a higher rank if you collect them all, plus they can actually be used in the gift store of the theater.

So, collect at least three gems, sounds easy enough, right? Well, did you think your captors would really enjoy just watching you try to get some gems? No, of course they wouldn’t! That would be boring! Instead your malicious hosts will do everything they can to stop you, setting up spikes to impale you, filling pools with various fluids for you to drown in, and lasers to disintegrate you! But that’s not all; these evil beings have man-eating animals just waiting to gobble you up, robots to fire missiles at you, evil toast couples wanting to make a sandwich out of you, and even their young offspring equipped with various tools like your own. If all that fails, maybe they’ll even come after you themselves! But who are these captors exactly? What kind of monsters would do all of this? Cats! That’s right! Big, fat, ginger cats!

On each level there is also a ball of yarn, this item is completely optional but you can get a higher rank for collecting it; just like collecting all the gems. The balls of yarn can be used in the gift shop, similar to how the gems are used. Now and again, Hatty Hattington may throw a golden hat into the game, collecting this and taking it with you to the exit will result in you being rewarded with ten additional gems. Who knows what some people would do for those gems, they might even turn on their friends....

So, what can you use gems and yarn for, you ask? Well, it turns out that all of your little friends are being held captive in giant capsule-toy machines, so hurry and collect as many gems as possible to use to purchase your friends back at random.  If you take a quick stroll over to the teleportation block directly left of you when you enter the gift shop, you’ll end up on the floor above you. Up there you can bribe a certain kitty into giving you other props to use in levels, the prop will be picked at random though; just like when you free your friends.

Multiplayer is only really useful for completing the special co-op story mode, the story itself is the same, but the levels are a bit different, being refitted to better suit two player action. Playing with a friend is really fun; solving a puzzle together delivers a similar sense of satisfaction as it did in the Portal 2 co-op, and you could always give your friend a cheeky little push...into a lazer beam or two.

There is the Arena mode, which is basically a big 2v2 deal with various match types, but to be honest, my experiences with this mode have been bad. The spawning system is iffy at best, it seems pretty much random, it may spawn you by your teammate, but it is just as likely to spawn you right in the trajectory of a grenade that one of your enemies has just thrown. Even ignoring the spawn issues, sometimes the game can just be a bit laggy and/or glitchy when playing the multiplayer arena mode. One example would be of when I would try to throw a grenade to the right, but it would always be thrown to the left after a short 2-3 second delay. So yeah, half of the multiplayer is great (the co-op story mode), but the other half should be avoided (the arena mode).

The controls of the game are pretty simple, I mean, come on, it’s a platformer. You’ve got your jump, your double jump, your special prop (item), and your fists can be used to punch or push any cute evil kittens out of your way. There is a minor issue that I have with the controls, the left thumbstick is used for movement, but pretty much the whole lower half of it is crouch, and so if you go a tiny bit lower than the midline of the stick, you might end up randomly crouching in the middle of a dire situation, resulting in your death.

In conclusion, Battleblock Theater is a wonderfully charming and fun XBLA title; just like Castle Crashers was before it. If you love fun puzzles, cute visuals, a delightful narrator, cats (!), and the occasional poop joke, then Battleblock Theater will be perfect for you. It does have some minor flaws as mentioned, but there’s really more good than bad.

Battleblock Theater is available now on the Xbox Live marketplace for only 1200 Microsoft Points, which is roughly £10/$15. Besides, can you really put a price on all the lives of your friends trapped within the dark clutches of these malevolent kitties!?

We liked Charming humour, interesting puzzles, fun co-op & cats

We disliked Arena multiplayer & minor control issues

 

 

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