Posted on September 21, 2012 AT 12:09pm
Having shipwrecked on a mysterious island you find yourself both betrayed by your best friend Hatty and captured by the locals. All of this is happening while being forced into deadly performances. This however, is just the start of your problems. - Description on the BattleBlock Theater trailer
This past year at PAX East, I was lucky enough to sit down with The Behemoth to talk about their humble starts, their success with Alien Hominid and Castle Crashers, and their future plans, including their upcoming game titled BattleBlock Theater. They had it and Castle Crashers set up on awesome arcade machines that were never empty. Watching everyone have so much fun was amazing, and the lads and ladies from The Behemoth were never without a smile.
This year at PAX Prime, just as the doors opened, I was able to bother the crew once again and met Ian Moreno, their Production Coordinator, who was more than willing to play a few rounds of BattleBlock Theater with me to show the ropes. The character selection isn’t like other games; you have the chance to customize your character, specifically your head shape and its variations. I ended up with a round head with a lion’s main while Ian picked the combination that gave him a pirate-esque head. Your weapons are also chosen on this screen, and some can be used to help platform up in a level, like the giant nerf dart that sticks to walls and the acid bubble that will melt your enemies (and partner alike!) The controls are simple: jump, punch, weapon, and a cooperation button. While the others are obvious, think of the last one as your “work together” button. If your partner can’t get up to the ledge that you’re on, standing near the edge and holding the button makes your character bend down and extend their hand, allowing your partner to be pulled up and continue on. The same can be done for if there is a large gap to get across; you can simply toss your partner across! There was one more button, a restart button, where you character rages and shakes then explodes, sending you back to your last checkpoint.
The main thing that Ian loved to show off was that while cooperating is almost needed, it doesn’t stop you from torturing, and killing, your partner. In the regular campaign, you have unlimited lives so death isn’t punishing and almost always is entertaining. We’d play through part of a level only to have one of us throw the other into the maw of a raccoon bear deer thing, then as revenge, uppercut the first one into a ceiling full of spikes. Even when an enemies killed us repeated about a dozen times, we were in near tears simply because it was not only humorous, but fun!
After the few rounds, which was hard to step away because it was addicting, Ian and I got to talk about how The Behemoth handles their games. He said by being able to publish them themselves, they can fix a bug and having it live within a couple of weeks rather than fixing the bug, submitting it to the publishing company, waiting for approval, which can easily take a month or more. While it’s more work for them, he added, it allows them to get the feedback from the fans and start thinking about what to do in upcoming patches and DLC without worrying about answering to someone else. It keep it in their hands, and lets them do what they believe is right for the game. “We make games for ourselves, and if we make money off of it, that’s even better.” Seeing a team so dedicated to not only their fans, but to themselves and their dream is extremely heartwarming, especially in an industry where many big name companies will just do whatever makes money and say screw the soul of the game.
While no date forBattleBlock Theaterhas been announced yet, Ian assured me that when it is ready, they’ll let everyone know with a great smile behind the announcement. “The team is extremely happy to hear all the feedback from the fans, so we know it will be looked forward to.” Ian welcomed me back to play another round later if I had the time, and I assured him I would. I might have blown an hour or so playing between appointments while no one was around.
If you’re looking for more information on The Behemoth or BattleBlock Theater, head over to TheBehemoth.com and BattleBlockTheater.com to keep up to date with everything that’s going on with them and their games. Thank you once again to The Behemoth for humoring me for a short while and Ian Moreno for taking the time to talk to me. Here’s to seeing more of their amazing work and many more years ahead of them!
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