Top 50 Challenge – Battleblock Theater
As a longtime fan of platformers and someone who really enjoyed Castle Crashers, I was excited when I heard that The Behemoth was working on Battleblock Theater. For one reason or another, however, I never got around to playing it near its release in April. Now that it’s getting down to crunch time to debate our Top 50 Games of the Year list, I accepted the challenge from Matt Miller and played a bunch of the game this week.
My first reaction was not positive at all, as the opening cutscene featured a hyperactive narrator and cutscene that was far more grating than funny. Castle Crashers was charming and funny, but that was thanks to its visuals and gameplay events, not forced dialogue from someone that sounds like he would be a better fit on an insufferable YouTube video. Luckily, it didn’t take long for me to find the option that permanently shut him up.
With the manic narrator out of the way, I was free to get to the platforming action without becoming incensed by the attempts at humor. What I found was a competent platformer that controlled well, but didn’t feature much of an identity when it came to level design. In games like Super Mario 3D World and Rayman Legends, I love the clever themes that tie stages together. In Battleblock Theater, each stage felt like a big box that someone threw a bunch of jumping challenges into with a level editor tool.
That said, I did enjoy how the stages gradually became more complex thanks to new blocks and puzzle elements that were introduced. I also appreciated that even as the levels became more and more challenging, the checkpoint system remained fair and far from frustrating. Collecting gems in an effort to unlock new prisoners was also a rewarding affair that remained fun throughout my time with Battleblock Theater.
Considering we were all busy playing games for this Fight for the Top 50 challenge, I unfortunately wasn’t able to test out any co-op play. I have, however, played some of the arena modes at a friend’s place and found them to be good, simple fun.
It's not a slam dunk for inclusion on the list, but I won't fight to get it taken off. This will be a game-time decision for me, and will come down to what other games are on the bubble. If nothing else seems like a good bet, I'll certainly speak up and mention that I had a decent time with Battleblock Theater. That said, I consider The Behemoth's platformer to be good, but falls short of great.