• Publisher: Microsoft Studios
  • Developer: The Behemoth
  • Platform(s): XBLA
  • Release Date: April 3rd 2013
  • Genre: Action & Adventure, Platformer
  • Website: Visit Website
  1. Audio 9.0
  2. Graphics 10
  3. Story 8.0
  4. Gameplay 9.0
10 Overall Score
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BattleBlock Theater: Review

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The Behemoth first brought up Alien Hominid in 2007 which then lead us to Castle Crashers. Since then they’ve been working hard on Game 3 which is now titled BattleBlock Theater. So how does this retro platformer shape up to today’s standards?, is the retro style going out of date or does it still stand strong?

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BattleBlock Theater offers you an experience that you wouldn’t expect straight of the bat, you’re playing a character who ended up shipwrecked on a strange island. From here you’re then taken through a introduction which is played out like a Theater with a cast of cats and strange goings on. Yourself and your ship of friends are then taken captive and forced to play through a multitude of challenge arena style platform levels to please the audience.

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As you progress you need to set free the other prisoners and complete in the rather extreme and hazardous levels that Hatty your bestest of best friends has laid out for you. Your mission is simple, reach the end of the challenges you’re provided, but you can also bring a friend or go online to create your own gauntlets for your friend to play.

So are you ready to take on the challenge that Hatty has waiting for you?

Audio:

The game’s audio is extremely well done. The narration at times can be a little annoying if you keep dying as there’s only a select few things that will be mentioned if you die. The music on the other hand is one of the highlights. Depending on where you are in the game, be it menus, the lobby, gift shop or progressing through the various levels, the music always adds to the experience. The music has quite a range as well, from slow melodic tracks up to a faster pace depending on the area, level and situation you find yourself in.

Overall the games soundtrack and audio ques are well done and make for an enjoyable experience all round.

Graphics/Visuals:

Aside from the gameplay, the graphics are the true highlight of this title. It’s very colorful, detailed and assaults your eyes with stunning artwork from start to finish. Just as you would expect from previous Behemoth titles, they used the same graphical style for BattleBlock Theater. A very cartoony, but detailed world style which fits the the gameplay style perfectly. The game is drowned in color, but not so much that you can’t look at what you’re playing, but enough to give the levels enough variation and style that everything complements each other.

As the game’s visuals are all drawn in flash they have an extremely clear and crisp look and feel. Which also adds to the games performance. The game runs flawlessly with no hiccups with graphics or overall performance.

Story/Writing:

At first the story is laid out very simply, you crash on an island, from here you then need to free your fellow friends and find out what’s going on with Hatty. The game opens with a rather witty and strange cut out style video which has even stranger narration. As you would expect, the game doesn’t take it’s self too seriously in this respect, but the story is amusing to listen to and the narration is amusing to listen to. At times, some of the comments made by the narrator can become a little taxing as you will hear the same thing a lot, but it’s not enough to put you off playing or even want to mute the game.

The story and writing is simple, to the point, and guides you through your journey as a filler to why you’re completing various stages of hazards to reach the end.

Gameplay:

After being shipwrecked on a rather strange island inhabited with cats, your goal is to make your way through the eight chapters of challenge rooms that lay ahead.  There are many twists and turns with the levels and gameplay, you can either play alone and master all the levels, or you can head online with a friend and other players to battle through the same levels in a co-op designed environment.

The gameplay itself is very simple in design, you progress by finding the route to the exit by collecting gems and yarn. Yarn can be used to buy weapons, where as gems also allow you to free your fellow prisoners that are trapped on the island. To begin with the levels are fairly straight forward, where your main obstacles may be the odd laser beam of death, or the cat enemies which you can fight your way past fairly easy. With progression the game gets harder and provides some serious challenges, which can be made even worst with co-op due to how both players are required to complete the levels.

With your progression you’re working towards the freedom of other prisoners on the island. As mentioned before you need gems to unlock these prisoners, or you can take advantage of the trading system with other players online. This is an interesting system which gives some value to the 300+ prisoners you can unlock as you may want to trade with others to obtain a full set of heads. You can also trade yarn for weapons. The only flaw with this system is it’s causing a lot of drop in and drop out players who only want to trade items instead of play through the story mode.

Aside from the story modes which you can play either on your own, or with a co-op partner, you also have the online multiplayer modes. These modes range from your standard capture the flag style gameplay, to various other competitive modes. You can also take on the various user created levels out there. There’s so much to see and do in BattleBlock Theater that you can spend hours just making your own user crated levels, or you can fill your time making other users feel the pain of your weapons and competitiveness in the multiplayer.

Conclusion:

BattleBlock Theater is a must have title for any fan of the old school style platforming games. The Behemoth have managed to do what they did with Castle Crashers, and that’s create a title with everything we all know and low from games in the 90s, and bring them forward with today’s standards. BattleBlock Theater will hold your attention for hours with the amount of content it provides in this price range. It’s one of those titles you just can’t put down until you master it. The only one thing I would recommend with this title is to gather some friends to play it with as the online community can be very iffy. At times players will waste all your time griefing you instead of playing properly, or you will find that rare player who does want to help you, but only for a few select levels of their choosing.

If you love the retro style platforming games, you would have to be crazy not to give this title a go. If you’re unsure, definitely download the demo as so far this is one of the best digital titles of 2013.