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PAX Preview: BattleBlock Theater Updated Impressions

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When we last saw BattleBlock Theater, the latest from The Behemoth, it was PAX Prime, and many promises had been made about the game. Hundreds of characters to choose from, hundreds of levels to play, etc. The problem was, most of that wasn’t true at the time – it was merely part of the plan that had not yet been executed.

The story here at PAX East is very different. The hundreds of promised levels exist now, as do the hundreds of characters, tons of weapons, and variety of challenges. Head past the break to see what’s changed in the past 7 months.

For the uninitiated, BattleBlock Theater is a co-op puzzle/platformer from the makers of the hugely popular Castle Crashers. The art style, music, and humor are classic Behemoth, and the game has since added a poncy English narrator to punctuate the action with amusing dialogue.

To demonstrate the amount of levels in the game now, each of the four BattleBlock Theater arcade machines had an entirely different set of levels to play. I managed to get playtime on three of the four machines, and got to chat with lead level designer, Aaron Jungjohann.

One of the things that has changed is the basic structure of the game. Whereas older builds featured actual boss fights, BBT now has a sort of boss stage at the end of each group of levels. These boss stages offer a ramped up challenge, time limits, and a finite number of lives to use. These levels will really test your mettle, as they’ll require quick thinking and even quicker reflexes in order to survive.

I was told BBT now contains a separate single player campaign and cooperative campaign. This alleviates the issues faced in a game like New Super Mario Bros Wii, in which the levels were all primarily designed to be played by only one person, yet accommodated up to four. Balancing the difficulty of these stages, I’m told, was probably the toughest part of the game’s development.

Another bit of interesting info gleaned from my chat with Aaron was the possibility of a level designer and user created content. While not officially announced, it was definitely implied in a less than subtle manner, so look forward to creating your own crazy levels when the game launches.

Unfortunately, I could not nail down a release date from Aaron, though like the rest of us, he hopes it will be available this year. It’s definitely looking polished these days, and plays smoothly to boot. It definitely carries The Behemoth’s legacy with it, and should more than live up to the quality standard set by Castle Crashers. With any luck, we’ll all be playing it sooner rather than later.

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