"A Battle of the Blocks"
BattleBlock Theater is one of the weirdest games I've played in a while, It is definitely an experience worth having, but at the same time, it's an amalgamation of games many of us have played before. Coming after the commercially and critically successful Castle Crashers, it's definitely a title that won't sit right with everyone, depending on their previous experience.
BattleBlock Theater is basically a fast-paced side-scroller with a bunch of levels that are about collecting crystals in order to reach an exit. However, that description wouldn't do the title justice, so let me describe it through parts of other titles: take the fast constant pace of Raskulls, add in a pinch of the old school difficulty from Super Meat Boy, and the trademark Newgrounds centric humor from other titles from The Behemoth, and then you have an idea of what BattleBlock Theater is.
While BattleBlock Theater may have a meaty story mode and there's a lot of well put together effort in making something for those looking for single-player content, everything is pretty much presented hands off. There are plenty of cinematics and voice overs to explain why you are being forced through a theatre seemingly run by cats, but it's totally skippable and the levels are sprinkled with plenty of humorous touches, such as a spring throwing your character on a wall of spikes that say "LOL".
With the game being as abstract as it is at times, it does a good job of making the mechanics straightforward and dangling things in front of your face enough to make you want to replay levels. When starting up the game, I skipped the cutscenes, and when I was finally put in a level, I got a little overwhelmed, although I quickly picked up on the controls and abilities of the character and what exactly was a hazard. The only thing that death affects if your time bonus, putting you back at the last checkpoint, which there are plenty of in each level.
As big a part of the game the humor may be, the game is still pretty simple and the basic character abilities (jumping, attacking, and grabbing other things) lend themselves well to the FPS-like gametypes made available. This all ties into the title's level editor, which allows players to create their own sets of levels and upload them into a playlist for others to download and play. The tools available are pretty versatile and are sure to create all kinds of new gametypes as people mess around with them.
BattleBlock Theater looks almost exactly like Castle Crashers and Raskulls, with clean artwork that looks like a fully imagined flash game. Nothing's really bad graphics-wise, although the multiplayer-centric nature of the title has led to the player characters having less details. There is plenty of voice and sound in the game to make this feel like the AAA equivalent of downloadable console titles, helping the game convey its feel of being in a theatre, a big change from Castle Crashers, which was mostly silent.
While BattleBlock Theater does what it does pretty well and it offers a lot to do, it does have the feeling of being more of the same, and it feels a bit late to the market. The reason why it's best described through using other games is there are other titles that do what BattleBlock Theater does and just as well. This similarity doesn't just stop at gameplay, but right on down to the art style, as I mentioned before. While I'd give the edge to BattleBlock Theater, with its level editor and better community support, it's hard not to think that this kind of game hasn't been done before.
GameDynamo's Score for Battleblock Theater (X360)
Akil is a big fan of video games and music, specifically fighting games and R&B. Other interests include game design, and comedy. His background in game design combined with his unique worldview and sense of humor makes him someone to follow.
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