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Hands-on: The Behemoth's 'Game 3'

There's a part of me that likes examining games' sub-superficial levels -- the lingering inspiration behind the art, gameplay, story and all the rest of its aggregate components. Behemoth's Game 3 is difficult to dismantle in this manner, largely due to the fact that, even when compared to past entries in Behemoth's bizarre repertoire -- it's an unabashed labor of madness.

It could also be due to the fact that the speed at which I was forced to play the Game 3 PAX demo could best be described as blistering. Still, it didn't take much time to get what the game's core components are all about: Frantic multiplayer platforming action, the likes of which you haven't seen since Super Mario Bros. 3.

The quick competitive match I participated in had me and a teammate -- a younger boy who shared the screen with me -- facing off against two other system-linked players. After creating our characters by choosing a head shape, color and special attack (a process which took all of nine seconds), we hopped into a game. In fact, we hopped so quickly that I didn't get a chance to catch the name of said gametype. For clarity's sake, I'll refer to it as "Gold Whale/Flying Bank Showdown."

I'll try to convey how the next three minutes unfolded with the same amount of confusion as I experienced at the time: There was a gold whale, and a flying bank, and ever-shifting blocks, and fiery blocks, and blocks that would constantly explode and reappear and repeat, and laser beams that fired ever few seconds, and jumping on players kills them, and hitting players with special attacks kills them, and kicking players into lasers kill them, and an on-screen scoreboard indicates that somewhere in there, scores are being calculated.

It took me a minute to Encyclopedia Brown the proceedings -- the flying gold whale produced gold cubes, which needed to be deposited in the flying bank. While moving between the two, players can dispatch you and steal whatever cubes you were carrying at the time. They can dispatch you by utilizing the method above -- either jumping on your head, or knocking you into one of the numerous environmental hazards.

All four of us figured the rules out around the same time, and the match quickly devolved from innocent exploration to cutthroat bedlam. Once things clicked, the appeal of the game became clear -- it's meant to be as frantic and confusing as it looks in trailers. When you're the one trying to manage the chaos, it's easier to follow and much easier to get caught up in -- as evidenced by the entertaining exclamations coming from The Behemoth's booth on the PAX show floor. "Get the whale! GET THE WHAAAALE!"

My time with the game was regrettably short -- I would have loved to check out the other game modes, including the co-op levels, but this was the only small chunk of The Behemoth's new project I got my hands on. Still, it was all I needed to confirm my suspicions about Game 3 -- it possesses The Behemoth's quirky sense of humor, unique art style and polished, entertaining gameplay. If all the game modes are as fun as "GW/FBS," then Game 3 will be a delectable XBLA offering.

I just hope the online functionality -- which will be especially integral to this game's success -- works right out of the gate this time around. I also hope The Behemoth comes up with an actual name for the title -- but my lawyers would like them to know that "Gold Whale/Flying Bank Showdown" has already been trademarked by yours truly. Better luck next time, suckas!

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