Tag Archive: BattleBlock Theater


Introduction

There were a lot of good games in 2013. For me, however, there weren’t a lot of great games, ones that were clearly head and shoulders above the pack and got me excited every time I talked about them.Aside from some Nintendo titles, the end of the year was surprisingly dull, due to the less-than-stellar launch lineups of the PS4 and Xbox One. Because of that, half my list is comprised of games that surprisingly came from the first six months of 2013. But when I look back, these are the five games I’d sit down and play again more than any others. Enjoy!

Ray’s Top Five Games for 2013

#05: Fire Emblem: Awakening

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Platforms: 3DS

Ray’s Take

Until Marth and Roy made their appearance in Super Smash Bros. Melee, I’d never heard of Fire Emblem, since it had only been released in Japan at that point. I personally didn’t get into the series until Path of Radiance a few years later, but since then, I’ve been hooked. The story and strategy is everything I could ever want from a game, and Awakening miraculously finds a way to raise what was already a high bar. Elements like character customization are also introduced to the States for the first time here, and pairing units adds another nuance that can’t be ignored when playing.

#04: Remember Me

Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Ray’s Take

Some games take you by surprise so much that you can’t help but fall in love with them. Remember Me is one of those games for me. From futuristic high rises that pierce the clouds to the seedy sewers comprising Neo-Paris’ underbelly, Nilin’s world pulled me in, with no small effort from our dear protagonist herself. The unique memory remixes and combo-creation gameplay elements stoked my fire as I spent way too much time exploring every second of people’s pasts or playing with my Pressens in the Combo Lab.

#03: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Ray’s Take

Few games were able to just straight up impress me more than Assassin’s Creed IV did this year. The amount of freedom I felt on the open sea was unparalleled, and I’d lose hours on end just boarding enemy ships or diving beneath the waves to unearth some long-sunken treasure. I’m genuinely amazed at the progress made between this and Assassin’s Creed III, and I’m of the opinion that Black Flag is the best Assassin’s Creed since we first met Ezio back in Assassin’s Creed II.

#02: Injustice: Gods Among Us

Publisher:Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Platforms: PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, PS3, PS Vita, PC

Ray’s Take

I have to play a lot of games over the course of a given year. I’m not complaining, but the only bad thing about this is that I rarely can find the time to go back to the games I truly enjoy. The one game I constantly found myself coming back to when I did find the time, however, was Injustice. I loved the story, I loved the mechanics, and I even loved playing online with other people—an activity that usually has me smashing controllers and living-room furniture left and right.

#01: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Platforms: 3DS

Ray’s Take

A Link Between Worlds is simply the best handheld Zelda game ever. Sorry, Link’s Awakening, but your 20-year title reign is at an end. The subtle changes to the classic Zelda formula, like having all the items at the beginning of the game, admittedly took some getting used to. But in the end, none of those changes stopped me from enjoying the game—and I couldn’t put my 3DS down until the adventure was over. In regards to the greatest Zelda games ever conversation, I wouldn’t put A Link Between Worlds past A Link to the Past or Ocarina of Time, but it’s not far off either.

Ray’s Off-Topic Awards for 2013

The Razor Ramon Award for Best Bad Guy
Jacob Danik
A lot of games this year tried to offer up some shades of gray to the black-and-white conflicts we normally expect. And while plot twists and grandiose questions about morality are fun, sometimes you just want someone you can hate. A bad guy you love because he’s bad. This year had a few candidates, but in the end, I chose Jacob Danik from Dead Space 3. He was a religious zealot willing to sacrifice the entire human race for what he believed to be salvation, and Simon Templeman played him brilliantly, projecting a cold ruthlessness akin to space itself.
Popsicle’s “The Colors, Duke! The Colors!” Award for Most Colorful Game
Super Mario 3D World
This one’s become sort of a tradition, so I figured I should continue it. It was a close call between several games this year, but I had to go with Super Mario 3D World. This particular Mario outing may have been a bit too easy and a bit too short for my tastes, but there’s no denying how gorgeous it was because of the variety of levels Mario was able to traverse for the first time in full HD. From purple ponds of poison and snowcapped summits down to the shine on the buttons of Mario’s overalls, a Mario game has never looked so good.
The Best Co-Op Gaming with Your Girlfriend Award
BattleBlock Theater
I play a fair amount of games with my girlfriend, but she only ends up happy that she joined in on a few of them. So, I figured I’d give a little recognition to the game she had the most fun co-op marathoning this year: BattleBlock Theater. She still talks about that game to this day, and it remains the only game where it’s OK to tell your significant other to go kill themselves, as we’d often sacrifice one another on floor spikes to serve as makeshift platforms to get across gaps.

Pussycats Galore

I’ll admit, I’ve always been a little slow to hop on the Behemoth bandwagon. I didn’t play Alien Hominid until it hit XBLA in 2007, and I didn’t get into Castle Crashers until 2011. Although I was late to the party, I loved both of those games, so when I heard that BattleBlock Theater, The Behemoth’s long-awaited next title, had finally been given a release date, I made sure I was ready and waiting for it to drop.

BattleBlock Theater begins as you and a bunch of your best friends—including your bestest friend in the whole wide world, Hatty Hattington—pile into a boat and sail off to parts unknown looking for adventure. After you sail and have some carefree fun for several days, a massive storm hits and sends your ship spiraling off course and into a long-forgotten island. When you come around, your character—customizable in regards to color and head shape—realizes that Hatty’s gone missing.

As you begin to explore the island, you discover a dilapidated theater and enter, hoping to find Hatty. But as soon as you set foot inside, you realize this is no ordinary theater. In fact, it’s been taken over by hundreds of massive cats with an affinity for fine technological devices and wreaking mayhem and murder upon unsuspecting travelers that stumble across their nefarious dungeon of doom. For reasons unknown, Hatty has become the man in charge, now sporting a possessed top hat instead of the friendly smile that once adorned his face. Hmm. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess it has something to do with the possessed hat.

You and your friends must travel through eight worlds full of buzzsaws, laser beams, spears, spikes, and kitties who have a knack for making things blow up, all in the hopes of bringing Hatty back to his senses and escaping from this macabre deathtrap. As you traverse each of the game’s nearly 100 levels, you’re required to collect three jewels to unlock the exit, but you can also nab surplus gems to spend on character unlocks, as well as yarn to bribe the death-kittens into giving you better, more powerful weapons.

Those of you who are familiar with The Behemoth’s work will immediately recognize their trademark cartoon art style and quirky sense of humor. Many of BattleBlock’s laughs come courtesy of the game’s narrator, who spews canned, campy one-liners that help give each level the feel of a never-ending game-show parody.

When you dig past the hundreds of collectible heads for your characters, the bells and whistles of the presentation, and the strong pedigree the game has to live up to, you’ve got a deliciously punishing, fun platformer. In fact, I was often reminded of Super Meat Boy—both with regard to difficulty and the tightness with which you can control your character. And that challenge only gets worse on Insane mode, which features remixed versions of levels packed with even more traps vying to send you to an untimely death.

Unlike some of those more diabolical platformers, though, BattleBlock Theater shines brightest when playing with a friend. I really ought to dedicate this review to my girlfriend, whose willingness to lie down on a bed of spikes to offer me a makeshift platform helped make this review possible. I think this game is the only situation where it’s socially acceptable to look a loved one in the eye and say, “Go kill yourself.” While I still had a lot of fun playing alone, it was solving the more co-op oriented puzzles together that kept smiles plastered on our faces for the nearly eight-hour campaign.

A couple of downsides to playing cooperatively do pop up, however—namely the camera and spawning system. If one player gets too far ahead, the camera pulls way back, making it difficult for either player to see what’s happening onscreen. And when one character dies, where they respawn seems to be completely random. Sometimes they’ll appear right next to their teammate; other times they’ll be rocketed back several checkpoints, forcing them to deal with that lovely camera issue again. Aside from these minor gripes, though, there’s nary a fault to be found.

But the story is only the beginning of BattleBlock’s inescapable charm. There’s also a level editor, where you can craft your own gauntlets to test your friends’ skills and indulge your inner kitty. Want to set up a stroll in the park? How about a punishing series of pitfalls accompanied by lasers dealing death from above? The choice is yours.

Then there’s the biggest surprise of BattleBlock Theater: its versus options. With nearly a dozen game modes spread between 2-on-2 competitions and 4-on-4 contests that pit human players against a team of bots, BattleBlock offers enough variety to keep things fresh for many long hours after you’ve finished up the story. From King of the Hill to Capture the Flag, BattleBlock’s take on some classic versus modes, along with a few original to the game, had me and the other EGM editors rolling on the floor laughing. (Props to Intern Chris for taking home the most MVP awards, even if Associate Editor Josh Harmon and I routinely wiped the floor with him and News Editor Eric L. Patterson.) Things can definitely get a bit chaotic—in fact, they almost always do—but you’ll likely be having too much fun to care.

All in all, this is The Behemoth’s best game to date, and fans should take solace in knowing the incredibly long wait between titles was well worth it. And if you’re a newcomer who feels like it’s finally time to jump on the Behemoth bandwagon, I can’t think of a better game to start with.

Developer: The Behemoth • Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios • ESRB: T – Teen • Release Date: 04.03.13
9.0
Between taking in the hysterical story, trying your hand at level creation, or just blowing up some buddies in versus mode, most every gamer will find something to love about BattleBlock Theater. Whether played alone or with friends, The Behemoth’s latest is an absolute blast that’s well worth the price of admission.
The Good Between its story and versus modes and its level editor, this is one of the deepest downloadable games out there.
The Bad The camera and spawning system in story co-op.
The Ugly You ever seen an entire island run by cats? Trust me. You don’t want to.
BattleBlock Theater is an Xbox 360 (XBLA) exclusive.