#Quickie: Battleblock Theater (XBLA)

Somewhere along the way, platformer games and I had some kinda falling out. After Super Mario World on the SNES they just never had that same appeal for me. With the exceptions of a few very innovative titles like Braid or Limbo I for the most part don’t seek these games out. However, there was one that I was hearing quite a good deal about and saw a lot of my friends playing it. It was the new game from Behemoth Studios: BattleBlock Theater. So being the credible and respectable game critic that I am (false), I knuckled under and gave it a shot.

The general jist of the story is you (the player character) and your friends go on a sailing trip on a “friend-ship” seeking adventure with best friend to one and all: Hatty Hattington. On the trip the boat is caught in a storm and is shipwrecked on a seemingly abandoned island. All of your friends are taken captive by the inhabiting cats, and Hatty is given a possessed top hat that takes control of him. In order to survive and escape, you are put through the many fatal trials of Battle Block Theater for the amusement of the cats.

Like most platformers, the objective is to get from point A to point B.  To unlock the exit you need to collect at least 3 gems and there are up to 7 gems and a ball of yarn in each level. The faster you complete it and collect everything the better your rank is. Most of the levels are pretty tightly contained, and I found myself breezing through the beginning stages of it. But as you play through, more and more block types are introduced throughout. Some of them bounce you like a pinball, some of them make you slide, some explode under you, some shoot lasers, some disappear for a few seconds.

Rage Quitter - BattleBlock Theater - Time Trial

But what I liked the most about it and probably the big selling point for me from a gameplay stance is the emphasis on perfection and speed. Needing to tear through levels at breakneck pace and solve puzzles as you do it made the game a very entertaining experience for me. The first few levels you just rip through but as the game’s layouts get more complex you really need to take a second to plan a few jumps ahead or it quickly becomes a mess of trial and error. But that fun kind of trial and error where you go. “Well shit, that didn’t work, maybe if go about it this way….”

Perhaps the best thing though, is the absolutely hilarious narration that takes place during the game. Our unnamed narrator in between stages delivers a form of paper cut out puppet show that explains the story and history of Battleblock Theater. It’s so sporatic and off the wall that it pretty much got me to laugh every time. During gameplay he will also make sarcastic comments at you while you play and collect things. He also has a very  “Still Alive” moment after you complete the game that I thoroughly enjoyed. The trailer {See below} features a song I loved so much its probably the main reason I purchased the game (and also made a ringtone of it).

There is also a series of co-op and multiplayer maps as well.  I didn’t get the opportunity to play the co-op maps but I have been told that the puzzles change to requires two people to complete them, a la Portal 2 for example. There is also a handful of vs modes like basketball, king of the hill, capture the horse (flag), and a classic beat em up to name a few. All of these can produce extra gems for you collect which you can use to purchase new heads for your player character, and there are a lot of them.

Rage Quitter - BattleBlock Theater - Boomshakalaka

If I had to complain about anything, I would say the games length is a bit short. Butit’s a 1200 point arcade game so I wasn’t exactly expecting an 80 hour adventure. There is also a level editor you can create for your friends and throw out online, but frankly that kind of feature is just way over my head. I didn’t use it in Little Big Planet and I can’t imaging myself using it here.

BattleBlock Theater I feel is one of the blueprints to a perfect platformer. Its got the right level of humor, fast paced levels, fun to play, and has some decent replay value to it. I would say it was absolutely worth the 1200 microsoft points so if you have the points to spend, grab a friend and give it a shot.

Buckle your pants, and check out the full review at Rage Quitter

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Author: Phil Hoyt

Web Developer, WordPress Expert, Marketing Enthusiast

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