Battleblock Theater Review

Bohemoth - Battleblock

It’s been a lot of long years since the indy game developing rock stars “The Behemoth” released Castle Crashers back in 2008. With Battleblock Theater recently being released, gamer’s finally have a chance to jump back into the comical, energetic, and fun retro gameplay. In a sentence: Battleblock Theater is an absolute blast to play, but is it the finest piece of gaming “The Behemoth” has made yet? Does it fall short of Castle Crashers greatness?

I’ll split this review into two sections:

  • Questionable Content: Is the game appropriate to play?
  • Gameplay: Is the game fun to play?

Questionable Content Review

First thing’s first. Don’t let the games fun cartoon style confuse you. The game is more geared for teens and up.

Violence:

Battleblock Theater’s violence isn’t realistic in any way. In fact the animation looks like a psychedelic Saturday morning cartoon, but the cartoon violence is throughout the entire game.

Battleblock is full of punches, kicks, combustion, explosions, electrocution, drowning, being eaten alive, acid burns, and even features a little bit of blood. The entire premise of the game is that a bunch of prisoners are forced to compete in a series of deadly plays for the entertainment of…kitty cats. If it sounds strange that’s because this game strives to be unique in style, and succeeds around every turn. With that being said, most of the violence is done in a very comical and old-school cartoon fashion (ZAP watch out for the electric current). Occasionally the games  violence escalates a bit higher.  Spoilers: at one point a character poops himself to death and the corpse is eaten by sharks. Yes really.  It’s these moments that set the potty humor and violence a notch above typical Looney Toons-esque violence gags.

Sex:

A few jokes here and there. The narrator occasionally says things along the lines of  “ladies mmhmm and gentlemen”. the worst sexual content comes in the form of a distasteful “that’s what she said” joke, and a statue of a large woman with enormous breasts that are only covered by seashells.

Language:

The language in Battleblock Theater is a force to be reckoned with.

What there isn’t: There are no f-bombs dropped, or any other “bad words” as most people would call them.

What there is: A few occasions where the narrator almost slips and says something like “Ohhh FFFFFFF–art”, a few occasions where the narrator says things like “I’d show them my favorite finger (shows a thumbs up)”, and excessive use of the highly annoying phrase “Oh my Gawd”. It is almost entirely this alone that makes Battleblock’s language cringe-worthy. Sometimes you will sit down to play and never hear it, but other times you’ll hear it screamed 20 times in an hour.

False Spirituality:

My least favorite thing in games and movies is a bunch of religous mumbo jumbo (sorry Banjo Kazooie) that conflict with Christ. Surprisingly Battleblock Theater does have some noteworthy moments of evil spiritual nonsense. The game mentions ghosts, curses, and even witch doctors. All of this is done in a comical jokey haha sort of way, but it is still there.

Also, one of the multiplayer modes is called soul snatcher. The goal is to beat your opponent and steal his ghost. The longer you hold on to the most ghosts the more points you get. A few jokes about losing your soul are made by the narrator occasionally during this game type.

Questionable Content Verdict: 

For mature teens and higher this game isn’t going to be any more offensive than watching a typical episode of SNL, Tonight Show, or even half of the commercials that are likely to play. That doesn’t excuse the blood-lust, soul stealing, and improper use of the Lord’s name.

In the content category I give Battleblock Theater a 6/10 Borderline

Gameplay Review

Battleblock Theater is a good example of platforming at it’s finest. With four campaigns full of addictive side-scrolling action it is likely that fans of the genre  will be pleased with The Behemoth’s newest adventure.

Gameplay:

Undoubtedly Battleblock is fun to play, but it is probably best to pace yourself to avoid feeling that the game is growing repetitive. Every stage is grouped into worlds in typical retro fashion. Playing through one  world typically entails nine regular stages, two timed finale stages, and three difficulty raised encore stages that are completely optional. In each stage you will be solving a series of bite-size puzzles that get progressively more difficult and are always changing. The goal is to collect as many gems as you can (you only need three but you’ll likely always want to try and find them all), find secret yarn balls, and progress to the stage exit as quickly as possible. At the end of the level you’ll receive a letter grade based on how well you completed the stage. An A++ rating will land you extra gems which can be used to unlock new characters (that are randomly selected like buying a deck of cards and hoping for Charizard). This is a brilliant formula. It is very exciting to see if your newest unlock is going to be something you love, and it is complimented by a streamlined trading system that allows you to look at other players characters and offer trades for the things you like.

Each world seems to be a good length, but despite the games nature of always changing and adding new challenges, playing beyond more than one world in one sitting may feel repetitive. Collecting gems is fun, but I can only collect so many before it’s time to go do something else for a while. If you manage your playtime correctly this game can last you a good amount of time while still remaining fun to play.

Visuals:

Within moments of turning the game on you will likely come to the same conclusion that I did. This game looks incredible. I’m an animator myself (Bunsized Animation), so the visuals in this game already strike a good chord with me. I’ve followed these developers since Alien Hominid was just a flash game on the internet, and Battleblock is easily the best looking title they’ve released. The colorful and surreal worlds are brought to life with artist Dan Paladin’s signature style.

Story-line:

Battleblock’s story-line is surprisingly interesting. Right off the bat the hilarious narration of Will Stamper takes the story to a level that previous “The Behemoth” games haven’t. It is likely that you will look forward to completing each level so that you can learn more about what is going on. It’s a formula that works, and hopefully future side-scrollers will learn a thing or two about exceptional storytelling alongside rich platforming.

Replay Value:

Four campaigns (2 single player and 2 multiplayer), a hat full (hyuk hyuk) of online ranked modes,  a good level creating mode, and the promise of consistent new featured levels for the near future will keep you busy for a long time.

Online/Co-op:

The Co-op is great. You’ll find yourself laughing as you fail time and time again with your partner, and hooting and hollering when you score an A++. For me co-op is the high point of Battleblock. Much like Castle Crashers, this game is best shared with the people you love.

Online is sprinkled with tons of short game types. Sometimes it is difficult to find a match, but once you do you can keep playing in that group until it ceases to exist. If one player hops out the game does its best to put another player back in quickly so the fun doesn’t stop.

Gameplay Verdict:

Battleblock Theater is a blast to play and is in league with other platforming greats like Rayman Origins and Little Big Planet.

In the gameplay category I give Battleblock a 9/10

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