Review: BattleBlock Theater is wonderful

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battleblock theater

If you were to mix an assortment of vibrant colors and adorable characters, sprinkled with some dark humor, the result would be a wonderful concoction only a developer like The Behemoth can produce. The Behemoth is a game company who has yet to disappoint by ensuring they invest the right amount of time needed into every project, and five years is quite a long time. Crowds enjoyed the beat-em-up adventure that was Castle Crashers but we yearned for something new from the imaginative developer; subsequently, The Behemoth thought it's about time to stop teasing us with BattleBlock Theater and just release the darn thing already. After several years of event showcasing and (cold empty) promises, the masses are finally able to enjoy being tortured by maniacal cats and a dude with a (spiffy) hat.

BattleBlock Theater features a fine gentleman named Hatty Hattington and his beloved polygon friends. One day they set out on a sea voyage, and having learned nothing from the show Gilligan's Island, are hit by a terrible storm that strands them on an allegedly deserted isle. You play as one of the Hatty's hundreds of friends, guided by an ominous yet quirky narrator, trying to make sense of where you are and where everyone else is. Hatty is no longer the gracious fellow he once was, thanks to a magical hat some technologically advanced cats placed on him, as he's now forcing you to run through traps to appease an audience of well-dressed felines.

As a 2D platformer, the game is straightforward in objective but amazingly chaotic in level design. After choosing the look, color and weapon for your creature, you make your way through a combination of traps, cats, pieces of toast, and lasers to collect three gems to open a portal to the next stage. There are seven gems available in any given stage, and collecting them all improves your performance grade. There are also yarn balls to gather, and at times Hatty throws his hat into the ring to collect as a bonus. The stages are short but deliver tremendously on amusement in conjunction with the lively soundtrack and the inclusion of the narrator berating you for failing. "No, not like that! Don't die!," he says. "I'm trying!," I cry back as a twinge of helplessness dwells within me. Each level ends with a timed trial that tests all that was learned in the previous nine stages, an exciting yet stressful ride the cat audience will enjoy whether or not you make it through. After completing an entire floor, you have the option to return to complete three encore rooms.

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