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REVIEW | Come One, Come All To “BattleBlock Theater”

By
Posted on April 22, 2013 AT 01:10pm

Four years. That’s how long it has taken The Behemoth to bring the world BattleBlock Theater. Since revealed in 2009 fans of Castle Crashers and Alien Hominid have waited ever-so long for the developers to bring their next foray to consoles. Hell, it was even shown off at PAX East the last few years, as if it was close to being released to the masses. So now that BattleBlock Theater has finally been put out does it merit the wait, or is it a dish of doo-doo casserole with a side of butt salad?

Our story begins with many friends on a ship, known as the Friend-ship. The most beloved of all friends is Hatty Hattington, a great man who loves hugs as much as pirates love candy. One day a massive storm sends the ship crashing onto an island of cats, where the felines take Hatty and make him their leader via a magical cursed hat. Now you (and possibly a couple friends) are forced to perform for the cat audience in levels that would make Marc Summers flip his lid.

In each level within the eight worlds you must collect at least three gems from the 6-7 that are usually in the area, all while evading weapons and cats, using platforms and sticky substances to reach higher areas, and solving puzzles that may cause massive brain fart trauma. There are also two other items to collect: a ball of yarn to use as a weapon trade-in and cake that can be used for pretend-time eating with your real and imaginary friends. When completing a level you are given a letter grade to showcase your score, reaching up to A++. In the tenth level of each world you are given 2 1/2 minutes to complete the first part of the level, and three minutes to finish the second.

As a solo gaming experience BattleBlock Theater has much to love, from its cartoonish level design, catchy music, and the occasional formidable puzzle that can sneak up and bite you in the bum when you least expect it. That being said it’s when you are playing with others when the real fun begins. Here you can either help your fellow man and tackle the puzzle together, or you can be a total Denis Leary and toss them into acid or push them into saws for only your viewing pleasure. Using your friends in the worst way possible never gets old here, as you’ll probably find yourself tossing middle fingers back and forth with friends faster than Larry King tosses out ex-wives for newer models.

If you find yourself getting bored with the levels that are given to you, you can easily create your own and share it with the world. Make subtle traps, put emeralds on top of near-impossible-to-reach heights, and make other gamers across this green-and-blue planet scream obscenities at you for torturing them with your creation. If you’d rather suffer/have fun than create, then you can take on everyone else’s levels and have a massive mental meltdown that will cause the makers to laugh maniacally thousands of miles away. But it’s all in the name of wholesome entertainment, and isn’t that what truly matters?

Controlling BattleBlock Theater is a breeze at first, until you get to the later levels. Trying to hop, jump, slide, and maneuver through the levels can be quite difficult, especially when you are needed to do three or four actions at the same time. Once a rhythm can be thought out, though, the more difficult areas can be conquered. Just be prepared to take breaks in-between worlds, as you may want to soak your hands in ice after some of these levels.

The Behemoth knows how to make a game with character, and BattleBlock Theater is filled with thousands of them. Whether it’s those damn cats or your friends that need to be rescued this game has one of the shiniest personalities in the gaming realm. The real showstopper of them all, though, is the Narrator (voiced by Newgrounds’ Will Stamper). His quirky, twisted poop-filled dialogue will have you laughing through the tougher parts of the game. Hell, you might want to purposely die just so you can hear his banter.

Then there’s the soundtrack, featuring artists from the Newgrounds Community. Its blend of carny medleys, old-styled piano jingles, and hip hop samples will have you nodding your head to the beat of the songs, with some possibly making you want to sing along with glee. (I’m not ashamed to admit I now have one of the game’s songs as my ringtone.)

BattleBlock Theater‘s Story Mode may take you roughly 6-7 hours to beat the first time over, but with enough practice and knowhow you can probably cut that playtime in half. It will take awhile to get that A++ ranking, as the majority of those cake pieces tend to be hard to find. (In fact I didn’t even know there was cake until after I beat the game!) The ending can be a little sad, though, but the end credits song will help keep those tears from falling down your face.

PROS:

  • Greatest narrator in gaming history
  • Fun challenging levels, co-op play
  • Level Editor

CONS:

  • Finding cake is extremely difficult
  • Ending is kind of depressing

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Calling BattleBlock Theater a mental case is an understatement, but it’s a massively fun one to boot. With many levels, characters, co-op play, and an entertaining voice to narrate it all there are many reasons why you should play this game. Or maybe you don’t want to save the friendly Hatty Hattington and make the rest of the world a sad place, in which case you’re a jerk! In all seriousness, BattleBlock Theater is wonderfully entertaining, and should be a welcome addition to any Xbox owner’s library.

FINAL GRADE: 8.8 (out of ten)

Evan Bourgault is an accomplished music, anime, and video game critic. His passion for discovering new bands, developers, and Japanese pop culture began in his college radio days and continues on today. Evan joined the ElectricSistaHood team in 2008, where he is a contributing editor and host of one of the network's weekly podcasts. Follow Evan on Twitter at twitter.com/King_Baby_Duck


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