One of the best, most highest rated Xbox LIVE arcade games of all time is Castle Crashers. It’s a cartoony side scrolling four player co-op brawler with medieval themes. Now Behemoth, makers of Castle Crashers (and also Alien Hominid HD), have FINALLY released their third Xbox LIVE game: BattleBlock Theater! Was it worth the wait? Read on to find out!
The story goes in the game that a group of friends board a ship (called the Friend-Ship), and set out to sea. But a storm shipwrecks them on an island where they are captured by a bunch of cats. These cats force them to compete in obstacle-filled tournaments in a run-down old theater. You play as one of the prisoners.
The main story mode is a 2-D platform jumping obstacle course. Jump, double jump, climb walls, avoid traps, all with super-responsive and easy to learn controls. You must collect at least three gems and reach the exit. The levels have more than three gems, so if you find any extra, it’ll help boost your score. Hidden in each level is a ball of yarn, and be on the lookout for secret stages, too! You’ll get a score at the end of each level based on how many gems and yarn you collect, and how fast you finish. After every three levels or so, you can visit a gift shop and spend gems to free prisoners (just extra heads you can use to customize your character with), and if you have enough balls of yarn, you can bribe the cats and buy weapons to use as your special attacks. If you have Castle Crashers and/or Alien Hominid on your Xbox 360 hard drive, you can automatically unlock heads based on characters in those games.
The other main mode is Arena, where you can try one of eight four-player challenges against other local players or the CPU, or even battle on Xbox LIVE. These events include Smash Bros. style brawls, King of the Mountain, Capture the Flag (which involves riding horses that don’t even look like horses), and a really fun basketball style game. These Arena modes are a blast and will give you plenty of things to do with friends, but sometimes the rules for the games can be a little confusing until you play them a few times. And assigning team colors can be a little tricky, too. And if you play co-op in Story Mode, you’ll have to start at the beginning if the other player isn’t signed in on their profile and hasn’t played it yet, and you can’t join in at any time either.
The last main part of BattleBlock Theater is the Level Edit mode. Here you can design your own levels to play and share with folks over Xbox LIVE. While the level editor has a somewhat comprehensive tutorial and is fairly easy to use, there were still some things that confused and frustrated me (but then, I’m not very good at figuring out these things). For instance, if I made a gem collecting level, where on the menu do I select gems to place? And how do I change colors for the basketball goals if I make one of those levels? And how come I can’t find my playlist after I uploaded it to Xbox LIVE? I made some cool levels based on mazes from Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, and Bubble Bobble, but now I can’t play them after uploading.
At any rate, despite all the confusion and problems, BattleBlock Theater is still a fun download full of humor (the announcer is hilarious), good controls, and fun multiplayer modes. Plus the Invader ZIM style artwork and funky music is a hoot. It may not be as polished as Castle Crashers, but it’s still worth downloading if you’re a fan of The Behemoth’s other games.
BattleBlock Theater is rated T for Teen with ESRB descriptors of Blood, Violence, and Crude Humor. While your character can explode into parts, with heads and bones flying everywhere, I didn’t see too much copious amounts of the red stuff. Your characters can get skewered, chomped, and zapped, but the violence is still pretty cartoony. The crude humor comes mostly from the crazy announcer, who at one point mentions the prison food tastes like doo-doo casserole and butt salad (they even show pictures). I might be OK with kids younger than teens playing this with some adult supervision (especially for the online stuff), but reading skill is still needed for the text instructions. And they may need help with the level editor (just don’t ask me, I couldn’t figure it out either).