A recent trend in game design shows that not only can dying be fun, but it should. Games like Super Meat Boy encourage us to take on intense challenges through failure and frustration because of that succulent little splat and the short time it takes to get there again. An upcoming 2D platformer by the name of Battleblock Theater continues this trend and adds the opportunity to off your friends—over and over again—while cooperating in order to reach a common goal.
In a nutshell, Battleblock Theater is a series of races set in multiple labyrinths decorated with triggers and traps, a combination likely to bring kinetic thrills and sudden death—but we like that, right? With cooperative and competitive modes, expect the same multiplayer madness you get from games like New Super Mario Bros. Wii and The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure. Do you help your friend up the ledge, or do you knock him off? Even in two-player co-op, which I tried at PAX East, the game was gushing with equal amounts of fun and insanity. It was undeniably a Behemoth game.
As a second player and I ran through a level, we were met with several obstacles, some where we needed to actually cooperate in order to succeed, while others destroyed us too many times to count. Some of these executions included death by laser, death by drowning, and death by fire. We weren’t discouraged, though; it was fun.
The rest of the ride consisted of running through and jumping on blocky platforms; stopping occasionally to overcome an obstacle; dying occasionally, sometimes because of the obstacle and sometimes because of ourselves; and collecting enough emeralds, which were scattered throughout the level, so we could open the exit point.
Even though Battleblock Theater supports online multiplayer for up to
16 players, 8 players, this one might be best for local matches only. In a game where opponents and friends can cause the greatest pitfalls, the potential for trolling and bad vibes is ridiculously high. But who knows—maybe this game will breed easy-going Samaritans. We’ll find out later this year when it arrives on XBLA.
Update: Corrected number of multiplayer users