Indie gaming studio The Behemoth was an unexpected surprise among the video game booths at Comic-Con 2010 in San Diego. We haven't heard much about its upcoming Battleblock Theater since it was announced, making the brand new build on the show floor all the more enticing.
Like the previous version we played, gameplay revolved around little blockheads battling it out in a deathmatch ... put on for the entertainment of large cats.
There are supposedly eight different arena modes, and Behemoth co-founder (and Newgrounds founder) Tom Fulp told me that there will be a full single-player campaign with online co-op included. I played the "Soul Stealer" mode that we saw at PAX East, as well as a "King of the Hill"-style mode where players tried to stand on a central platform for as long as possible without being killed. Another mode had me grabbing gold bars spawning around a stage before trying to return them to a flying safe for points.
Needless to say, the action is wacky. Fulp said the game originated in Alien Hominid's PDA games, where four players could face off against each other on one screen. That mode became a player favorite, and "we kept talking about how we could expand on that, and that grew into Battleblock."
Artist Dan Paladin came up with the idea of turning the box into a forced show for militant cats. "Dan thought it would be cool if we were kind of putting on a show for people, kind of staged the whole thing. And he was able to jazz it all up that way, and add a lot to the story," Fulp said. The players enter the arenas through backstage doors, and at the end of each fight points are added up, with a cat's paw circling the winners in marker on a clipboard.
Just like The Behemoth's previous game, Castle Crashers, there will be plenty of player customization. "There are four different head shapes," Fuld said, "and there are hundreds of different actual heads, and you can also customize the weapons. As you play, you'll unlock characters and you'll be able to choose them and have your weapons you can select from. Everyone has their favorite."
The idea is simple, but it works -- think Little Big Planet, except with a lot more killing and the trademark Behemoth look and feel. And while Fulp says the team is "still a while away" from completing the game, Battleblock Theater is already one to watch.