BattleBlock Theater Review – MOUSE n JOYPAD

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BattleBlock Theater Review



Here we are. A bit late to the party, but we got there nevertheless. Behemoth’s overachieving platformer has finally reached Steam, and has a couple of cool new tricks up its sleeve. If you’re like me, and you pretended that the game didn’t exist ’till its PC release either (we all hate spoilers), then this is new and wonderful to you, too. And I gotta say, throwing disc-mines at your friends has never been this fun.

The game’s graphics are a huge visual upgrade over Castle Crashers, Behemoth’s previous game. The textures are crisp and interesting, without taking attention away from the actual gameplay. Colours are what will probably strike you the most, as they feel reminiscent of the true Newgrounds spirit Behemoth is well known for. The devs have obviously managed to find a very specific visual style that makes their games stand out from the rest. With the basic elements and textures being pretty, it’s obvious that the levels are quite a sight, too. Whereas the game sports a relatively small number of building blocks (around twenty), the way they are combined makes everything very pleasing to look at. Whether it’s a level background, power-up, a player avatar or an NPC, everything fits in nicely into the whole quirky look the game is so obviously aiming for. And boy is it quirky. Starting with the main menus, you are bound to be knocked out of your slippers. It’s like every single design choice has been picked deliberately to make you laugh as much as is humanely possible. I’m not even kidding – it’s woven into the fabric of the game, starting with its visual identity, flowing through music and level design, only to be perfectly rounded off with the narrator’s constant commentary, of which we will talk later on.

The storyline begins with S. S. Friendship trudging through the ocean, with its passengers having the time of their lives because of a well mannered gentleman going by the name of Hatty Hattington. Hatty is a really great guy, as the game will rarely fail to point out, and it’s him who the cats will pick as the theatre’s supervisor after the (Friend)ship crashes into their island. For the duration of the game, Hatty will remain under the influence of The Evil Hat that your captors will place on his blocky head. Due to his catatonic state, it’s up to you to save Hatty and the rest of the prisoners (320 characters, all in all) from the feline island. As you can surely imagine, the road to salvation is not an easy one, and you’ll have to traverse across over two hundred levels (including the cooperative ones) to escape from the dreaded place. Your fully customizable character will have all of the usual platforming abilities at his disposal. Double jumping, climbing, and everything else that comes in the package. In PC version, you will also be able to choose two weapons instead on one, and change between them at will. The gameplay is pretty much unchanged from the console version, aside from weapon switching, and works just as wonderfully as it did a month back. Oh yeah, the cat guards are fatter this time around, so that’s a pretty big change, too. If there’s one thing that can really kill the flow of a level, then it’s the damn guards who will lick and cuddle you into pools of water or fiery traps. This equals death, of course, and a number of unnecessary annoyances brought upon you by the stupid fat felines. Either way, the spotlight of the PC port goes to the way Steam has been integrated into the game. BattleBlock Theater just might be the best console port I’ve had the chance to play since… well, since ever. Aside from the trading cards and a stockpile of achievements, players can also share custom-built levels via Steam Workshop, and even better, trade collected characters and weaponry. Yes, you can sell them, too. Although I’m not sure what kind of profit can you make from selling the collectibles for a couple of pennies each.

As far as multiplayer goes, the game offers a load of variety. Capture the horse first springs to mind, even though that horse looks suspiciously similar to a pig. There are also Soul, Muckle, Challenge, King Of The Hill, Color The World and half a dozen more modes to play at any given time. I’ll leave it up to you to discover what each of them is about. What took my attention, though, was the fact that BBT rotates community created levels every week, so you always have something new to play around with. What might annoy some players a bit is the overly complicated combat system. At first, two dedicated buttons looked simple enough – melee and ranged attack. Now here’s the thing. Melee actually pushes your enemies around, while only smacking them in the face if a certain criteria is met. If you’re in the air and press melee, then it’s a hit. But if you’re on the ground, it’s a push. The ranged attack button, on the other hand, always deals full damage, but can also be used in close quarters fighting. Pressing down and ranged attack, for example, amounts to an uppercut. This just barely falls into the category of ranged attacks, you know.

Now, if I had to choose a single element of this game that impressed me the most, it would be Will Stamper’s performance. More precisely, Stamper is the guy who will be narrating your adventures as you forcibly perform in the feline-led theatre your character is trapped in. There is an option to turn his commentary off, but trust me, you do not want to do that. Playing without Stamper’s quips is somewhat akin to taking punishment. Not because the game sucks without it, but because it’s kind of like you turned its soul off. Hard to describe, but feel free to look up the game’s introductory scene, and you’ll know what I mean.

BattleBlock Theater is, simply enough, one of the best games I’ve had the chance to play this year, and one that will surely hook many players into fooling around in multiplayer. And if there’s one thing better than playing this game online, then it has to be playing with your mate in hot seat mode. Get it, play it. You are not going to be sorry.