Kill you friends, kill them and laugh your head off.
No experience sums up my time at PAX Prime this year like Battleblock Theater. The Behemoth have followed up Castle Crashers with a game where killing your friend isn't just fun, but harmless and hilarious. I brought Cameron Teague from PlayStation Lifestyle with me to The Behemoth's booth, and amid all the fans picking up swag, there were several tricked-out, double-wide arcade cabinets to play on.
Next to the four-player Castle Crashers cab, Battleblock Theater stood all shiny and new. Saddling up to the controls, Cameron and I were greeted by a voice that introduced us to the game. I loaded my character up with a top hat, mustache, and square head. Cameron went the bearded route.
When we selected a theater, essentially a set of levels to play through, we were dropped in the middle of a maze-like 2D structure. We had to platform our way to the end, but the door would only open if we collected enough gems.
We had to make it over the typical platforming schlock at first—blocks that disappear, spikes, ice blocks that made us slide all over the place. At first it might seem a little boring, but Battleblock Theater challenges you to work cooperatively with your partner, all while tempting you to let them fall to his or her death. That said, I killed Cameron by stepping off a switch that controlled a disappearing platform more than three times in a row. (And then once more again.)
And both of us loved it. Once my partner made it across, I died by accident before reaching the next checkpoint, leaving me at his mercy on the same disappearing platform. Cameron cackled evilly, knowing full well what kind of position I'd gotten myself in. Oh, Little Big Plans...
Battleblock Theater manages to stave off staleness by mixing in power-ups that give players the ability to fly or rocket around the arena. Enemies might plague specific platforms and players are equipped with comedic punches and kicks to dispatch them, or knock their partners into bottomless pits and more. There's also a competitive knack to collecting more green gems than your co-op partner.
With The Behemoth adding more and more levels before release, I can't wait to hop back into another one of their zany, cartoon worlds. As much as I love Castle Crashers, Battleblock Theater seems like the gameplay will be sharing the spotlight with animation, humor, and couch co-op antagonism.