A lot of pressure has been on The Behemoth to follow up the resounding success of their 2008 2D brawler Castle Crashers. Hopeful fans and detractors can rest easy; BattleBlock Theater is a robust platforming experience overflowing with content that was well worth the wait.
Shipwrecked on an island, imprisoned by evil cats, and forced to fight for your freedom in deadly stage performances, BBT’s premise is as wonderfully mad and charming as you’d expect from The Behemoth. The game’s narrator makes witty meta-references throughout each level and during over-the-top cut scenes, breaking up the rampant toilet humor rather nicely. Dan Paladin’s signature cartoony art style seen in both Castle Crashers and Alien Hominid also makes a return, taking the kawaii cuteness to another level as characters are poisoned, electrocuted, set ablaze, or simply pummeled to death by their feline captors.
Just because BattleBlock Theater is a downloadable title doesn’t mean its quality isn’t on par or above many classic platformers that sell for four times the price. Once players select one of 320 unlockable prisoners and choose their devious weapon, they embark on a series of over 400 incrementally challenging levels that rewards exploration and bravery with gems and balls of yarn- the currency of choice to bribe kittens to release your friends and an array of black market weapons. These weapons range from explosive paper airplanes and Frisbees to poison bubble launchers and top-hat cannons that can be used for offensive purposes and as mobile platform launchers.
Aside from BattleBlock Theater’s single-player Story mode, players can look forward to the sweat-inducing challenges of Furbottom’s Features, which showcases both developer and user-created playlists made with the included level editor. Also available is Arena mode, which sees up to four players competing in games to steal others’ souls, steal tofu-block shaped ponies, and play heated games of basketball among many other activities. All of these levels are fun enough to explore on your own or with friends in your living room, but the game’s longevity and incredible value is more apparent than ever once you jump online for multiplayer action.
If you thought BattleBlock Theater was fun for the first few hours spent ascending the learning curve and solving platforming puzzles, you’ll soon realize the cats that have you captive aren’t nearly as challenging as players who have honed their abilities for hours on end. The same little kids that push you to the limit in online shooters and fighting games force you to become better here as well, leading to intense free-for-all or team matches in BBT’s Story and Arena modes. These rivals are also a boon for completing your own collection of prisoners and weapons, as players are able to trade amongst themselves for items, gems, and balls of yarn through an easily navigable interface.
BattleBlock Theater, like many other memorable life experiences, is best enjoyed with others. Grab some friends, grab a controller, and “clench your butt” as the game so eloquently states; you’ll be playing this one for a very long time.
BattleBlock Theater is available now on Xbox Live Arcade.
BattleBlock Theater Launch Trailer