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Video Game / BattleBlock Theater

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Give the performance of your life.

"What a strange, mysterious island! And what's this? The shore is riddled with little friend-sized footprints! Guess the tide brought them to land! How utterly CONVENIENT! But where have they gotten to? Who knows? I don't! Do you? I don't! Do you? I don't! Do-WELCOME TO BATTLEBLOCK THEATER! Go inside... the door."

BattleBlock Theater is a 2D co-op style Puzzle Platformer created by The Behemoth for the Xbox 360 and Steam. Riding aboard the S.S. Friendship, a crew led by the world's bestest friend Hatty Hattington soon finds itself caught in a storm. Thrown off-course and crashing on the island, Hatty is captured by the resident cat monsters and forced to wear a glowy red hat, turning him villainous. With the crew of hundreds imprisoned, they must fight like gladiators through numerous obstacle courses and rescue each other and Hatty.

The gameplay revolves around 'stages' in the decidedly gruesome prison/theatre that the game takes place in, where your character is currently locked up in, and the blocks that they are made up of. The game's co-op component is described as "co-optional" (screwing each other over might as well be encouraged, or even mandatory), and there are many versus multiplayer gametypes, such as capturing tofu horses and shooting soccer balls into… basketball hoops. Based off their Alien Hominid PDA Games.

BattleBlock Theater as a whole is an example of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: Weapons and tools can be a bit strange. Perhaps the toppers are a cannon that fires suction cup darts and the bubble blower… thing that shoots some sort of highly corrosive bubble.
  • Achievement Mockery: The "Consolation Prize" achievement, which is awarded for dying enough times.
  • Affably Evil: The entire theater, which runs on the brutality of colosseums but the charm and class of, well, theaters. Bonus points if you stick around until the Hall Of Dudes song loops:
    [music cuts]
    Narrator: (cheery) Just a reminder: anyone caught trying to escape will be executed on the spot. Good day!
    [music resumes]
  • And I Must Scream: Implied to be Hatty's fate due to wearing Purrham Furbottom's cursed hat for too long.
  • Anthropomorphic Food: Walking toast enemies pop up in a few levels.
  • Artifact of Doom: Purrham Furbottom's hat, which the narrator quickly singles out as being Obviously Evil. The narrator also suggests that the reason it's resulted in Hatty barely moving at all is because it's haunted by the souls of all the previous owners of the hat, whom all have conflicting viewpoints and thus can't agree on anything, resulting in the current owner being unable to so much as move. This all comes to a head when the hat inexplicably fires a giant green laser that kills the space bear and sets up the events of the next game.
  • Art Shift: While the cutscenes have the same art direction as the main game, they're represented in a puppet show style, with every character and object being an unmoving cardboard cutout on a stick or string, and end up getting shaken around a lot. This is only for main cutscenes, though; the smaller ones (such as when the cats capture the player in the intro) are animated regularly.
  • Attract Mode: Leave the game alone before bringing up the title screen and you'll see a fairly long gameplay video demonstrating various useful tricks. It's quite entertaining, since it shows some recurring characters screwing with each other.
  • Battle Boomerang: A weapon both the player and enemy cats can use.
  • Bears Are Bad News: In one area of the chapter hub, there's a poster that reads "Bear Hug is Nigh" and depicts a bear wearing star pasties. It's probably no big deal. And then it shows up at the end of the game. Gigantic and living in space. The scene is ridiculous and set up in a way that makes you doubt that it is actually there, but no, it is there, and things only get more absurd as Hatty shoots it down with a huge laser. The icing on the cake is that this actually sets up the events of The Behemoth's next game. Said game also implies that the bear was the Narrator All Along.
  • Big Damn Heroes: After you've rescued Hatty and begun your escape, the other prisoners you've released show up with rifles and kill all the cats chasing you as you flee back to the now-repaired boat.
  • Big "NO!": ...But in this case, it's "Lo," as the narrator was softly singing a stream of "Lo"s which turns into "Lo"s sounding like big "NO"s when, at the end, Perham Furbottom's Hat suddenly fires a laser that kills a giant space bear. Justified, since in the sequel, Pit People, Honey Hug the space bear's mate, Honey Kiss, was the narrator — of course he'd scream in protest if a giant laser was about to kill his companion.
  • Bindle Stick: Pops up in one cutscene, when the Narrator is explaining how he'd end up abandoning the friends if he was in the player's place.
  • Bittersweet Ending: You make it off the island! However, no one is the happy, cheery person they were from the beginning, and Hatty seems to have become permanently vegetative. ...Or does he?
  • Blatant Lies: The game's Steam trailer may be stretching the truth a bit, proudly boasting 1,000,000,000p graphics, 21,000 frames per millisecond, and Oculus Rift support... for up to five simultaneous "Oculuses".
  • Brainwashed: Hatty Hattington, normally the friendliest of the friends, has become an assistant of the cats thanks to the top hat they gave him.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs:
    • From the intro:
    "Now one fine morning Hatty and pals set out for a new and exciting adventure! What fantastic wonders would they discover this time? Perhaps they would come across a scary ghost ship! Perhaps they would find an island made entirely of candy! Perhaps they would meet a band of swash-buckling pirates! And join forces to find an island made entirely of candy!"
    • When the Narrator is explaining the opening night of the theater while under Furbottom's managing:
    Narrator: There was explosions and dancing girls! Dancing girls who exploded! Exotic animals! Exotic animals who exploded!
  • Buffy Speak: The Narrator indulges in this.
  • Bullet Hell: Episode 8 - Encore 3, has you jumping from one exploding platform to another while constant shots rain from above.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit":
    • In this game, "horses" are cubes with four feet and a few tail-hairs, and have a face similar to Hatty's.
    • "Sharks" are green penguin-like birds that eat you and shoot you out as an egg. Although in the credits, one of these "sharks" puts on a pair of pants and turns into an actual shark.
  • Cats Are Mean: Cats are the ones running the theatre, responsible for keeping you locked up, and watching you traverse the dangerous obstacles they set for you. They are sticklers for yarn, however, and you can make shady trades with the security to give you extra weaponry or tools.
  • The Cameo: Pipistrello and the Orange Princess from Castle Crashers appear in cutscenes; the Sockpuppet also appears as one of the portraits of the previous managers. The alien from Alien Hominid briefly appears during the ending. Both him and the knight from Castle Crashers can be used as avatars if you own their games. Other playable cameos include more characters from both games and the Madness Combat version of Tricky the Clown.
  • Character Customization: You keep gems you earn, and you can spend them to let security free some prisoners. These prisoners are actually what consists of your customizable appearance, and each one gives you a head as a prize. That's as far as it goes, however. The Narrator lampshades that much.
    Narrator: Maybe you should invest in some clothes. You're awfully naked.
  • Cherry Tapping: Most attacks performed with the X button don't do damage, and just push people around. That being said, it is effective for, say, moving enemies into the insta-kill trap directly behind them…
  • Color-Coded Multiplayer: Teams have self-picked colors. Players and other team-related assets use those colors.
  • Continuing is Painful: Insane mode's deal is that it disables checkpoints. Also, while a player in co-op would normally be allowed to continue if their partner died, the death of either one in Insane mode resets the level.
  • Cool Boat: The S.S. Friendship. Too bad it gets shipwrecked.
  • Cosmetic Award:
    • The only thing you can spend gems on are prisoners that give you extra heads. There are, however, many, many of these. You'll likely have purchased all of the weapons well before finishing the story mode, while your head collection won't even be a quarter complete. You can also trade these with other people, so if people are willing, they also have potential extra value too.
    • After completing the game, your character will walk around with a trophy on his back at all times (well, unless you toggle it off, anyway).
  • Crapsaccharine World: Everything's so bright, colorful, and ridiculous that it's almost enough to make you forget that you're trapped on an island run by fascist cats that force you to throw yourself into horrific death courses for the entertainment of the public.
  • Cross Promotion: Not only do you gain additional bonus heads for having saves from both Castle Crashers and Alien Hominid with at least one achievement, the game itself provides a character for Castle Crashers.
  • Cute Is Evil: The villains in this game just so happen to be adorable cats.
  • Deadly Disc: Both the player and the cats can use them. The disc isn't the dangerous part, though; it's the fact that they explode.
  • Death Course: Pretty much everything outside of arena mode. Most of the stages have you running from point A to point B, all while saws, spikes, lasers, and numerous other things try to take you out.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: During single player, death plants you at the latest checkpoint with no lives to consider. During co-op, it is even less of an inconvenience, as dead partners tend to respawn on nearby safe surfaces. It is not a slap on the wrist in two instances — when you are finishing a level against the clock, and when it is on insane mode, where checkpoints do not exist.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: A favorite of the narrator.
    Narrator: Will you uncover the mysterious mystery of the island?
  • Directionally Solid Platforms: Cloud platforms are only solid from above. However, heavy objects will fall through them.
  • Double Jump: The game includes one for extensive platforming. What's notable about this particular iteration is that dropping off an edge of a climbable object does not consume the first jump, allowing for you to cross a major distance without touching the ground.
  • Empty Shell: Hatty is reduced to a seemingly permanent vegetative state by the end of the game.
  • Faux Horrific: The Narrator exaggerates the scariness of certain parts of the story, including a smiling golden whale in the intro, as well as this part of Chapter 2's end cutscene:
    Narartor: *While talking about the theater's age* I mean, avert your eyes, children, avert them! *A cardboard cartoon skeleton flies down onto the screen* There's bony people skeletons everywhere! *Zoom in on skull* Scary, right?
  • Flipping the Bird: Subverted in one cutscene, where the Narrator states he'd show the cats "his favorite finger" before leaving. He's referring to his thumb.
  • Gainax Ending: The stinger. Hatty is dumped overboard, and that infernal top hat lands on his head. It glows green instead of red... and then a laser shoots upwards from it, apparently knocking the boat away and destroying numerous other things in its path. This is even touched on by the narrator, who says "It all makes sense now!"
  • Genre Savvy: The Narrator, once again. When touching upon the top hat on Hatty's head, the Narrator makes mention of the fact that it glows red. As everyone knows, glowy red stuff is always bad.
  • Goomba Stomp: Not present in the main game, but is present in others in the multiplayer. In some, it only counts as a non-lethal hit; in others, it is an instant kill.
  • Got the Whole World in My Hand: There is imagery of Purrham Furbottom, a cat, and Hatty standing over the Earth in this fashion during the ending, for whatever reason.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: Not a major part of the game, but something many players feel they should do. Not too hard as on the PC heads are cheap (except for a certain summer sale exclusive one). The Xbox in contrast has repeat runs periodically for any head (even the one that's summer sale exclusive on Steam).
  • Gosh Darn It to Heck!: The narrator tries to avoid profanity when possible.
    Narrator: They're sick of Hatty's bullsh- be e- NONSENSE!
    • The only time the narrator properly swears (if you can call it that), it's when he's describing how the theater had declined in quality over time.
      Narrator: For thousands of years, Purrham's hat passed from head to head — leader to leader — and the theater still operates to this very day... and what a piece of crap it's become!
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Even before they become disgruntled, they are audaciously corrupt. They run "gift shops" that sell you weapons and even have vending machines for you to pay to free prisoners. Also, the narrator calls them "bat-poop crazy".
  • Harmless Freezing: Being hit by an ice cube does no damage, only slowing the character hit and preventing them from jumping.
  • Helpful Mook: There are plenty of ways enemies can help the player: lighting them on fire so water can be jumped on, eating other enemies, providing projectiles to get jump boosts from, hitting switches, pulling them to a certain spot with a vacuum...
  • Heroic BSoD: Hatty appears to have been so deeply traumatized by his endeavor by the end of the game that he has given up on attempting to move from his seat, and remains unresponsive even in the presence of any of his friends.
  • Holler Button: Left Trigger allows you to cry for help (like a little baby). While it has the hypothetical purpose of alerting co-op partners to your presence, it can be used to call horses towards you if you need them and they are not nearby.
  • Hollywood Acid: The Acid Bubble projectiles will cause anything that touches them to be Stripped to the Bone. Jumping on them is fine, though.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Gems and yarns appear roughly around the same size as the player character. At most, they can collect seven gems and one yarn per levels, and then they can carry so much more in the lobbies. This also includes the weapon they are currently using, which can also be as large as the player.
  • I Am Not Weasel: The narrator has a bad habit of referring to the Ducks (which are barely ducks) as sharks. This means we get to see Purrham Furbottom's corpse get devoured by the silhouettes of ducks.
  • An Ice Person: Some cats can shoot freezing ice cubes, and a cannon that shoots them can be unlocked as a weapon.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Both the prisoners and the cats can utilize an arsenal of unconventional weapons, ranging from exploding Frisbees to poisonous air bubbles to paper airplane bombs...
  • Incendiary Exponent: There are a few ways to set things on fire: With the fireball weapon, or if toast and lasers get involved. You live for a short amount of time after being ignited, and are still capable of fighting to your last breath, or even beyond if you find water, which launches you back into the air extinguished.
  • Inconveniently-Placed Conveyor Belt: Conveyor belts act as a stage hazard, carrying things in the direction they're facing.
  • Invincible Minor Mook: The Raccalope monsters that appear a few times are immune to all player attacks. Since they can one-hit kill the player, they're to be avoided at all costs. They can be killed by sawblades, but only a few times are they in a position to be killed that way.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Purrham Furbottom, the theater's creator, really loved cats, explaining why they're still at the theater. Too bad the cats themselves aren't as nice.
  • Large Ham: The Narrator loves to be ridiculously over the top and hammy.
  • Lemony Narrator: Extremely lemony.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Explosive weapons do this to anything they hit. No blood, but plenty of bones and a disembodied head.
  • Man on Fire: Characters hit by the fireball weapon will scramble around in flames until they die or jump into a body of water. As fun as it is to kill people with it, it's not hard for the victim to set you ablaze as well. It also has a purpose for exploration, since water will put out the fire and launch the character upwards instead of drowning it.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: One recurring enemy, the Raccalope, has antelope antlers and a racoon tail, but acts more like a bear.
  • Mood Whiplash: The final cutscene goes from bittersweet to peppy to weird all within the space of a few minutes.
  • Mook Maker: Toaster blocks shoot out toast enemies to replace any that die.
  • Motor Mouth: The Narrator. All the way.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Most of the Steam trailer is this.
  • Narrator: Voiced by Will Stamper. He's the only one who talks, and boy does he talk. Pit People implies that the narrator was the space bear seen in the ending.
  • Nintendo Hard: Furbottom's Features are always very difficult.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Hatty Hattington didn't wear any hat at all prior to the cats forcing the cursed hat upon him.
  • Ocular Gushers: While Hatty doesn't exactly cry a river, his tears are a permanent fixture of his face while under control of the top hat.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Most attacks don't deal damage to the player. But if it does deal damage, they're dead on the spot.
  • Pain-Powered Leap: This is what happens if you step on lava blocks. Unusually, they don't actually harm you if you do this, and this feature is actually necessary to progress through the levels.
  • Pinball Projectile: A few weapons bounce off surfaces, with the Dodgeball being the most apparent one.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Hatty seems to have been made a theater manager by the cats, but even under mind control, all he really does is sit in the room overlooking the gift shop, motionless for days on end. This doesn't go unnoticed by the Narrator or the cats, as Hatty's uselessness starts to directly affect the theater.
  • Power Up Mount: The "horses" in some levels. They automatically jump up one-block heights, and can walk over spikes and water.
  • Press X to Die: You need to press a certain key to enter doors in the Hub Level. If you press it anywhere else, it will make your character start trembling and eventually explodenote . It actually comes in handy in the Insane Mode if you want to quickly restart the level.
  • Pretentious Pronunciation: The Narrator's description of the game's content rating in the trailer.
    Narrator: Rated T for Blude, Veowlunce and Crud Hoomaw! Crud Hoo... what's that — like French, or something?
  • Projectile Pocketing: The boomerang weapon has this trait.
  • Pungeon Master: The narrator.
    Narrator: I see them lurking in the shadows… lurking hard! Or hardly lurking, see?
  • Reviving Enemy: Missile Bots can be hit until they shut down, but they start back up in only a few seconds.
  • Rimshot: Happens in one cutscene after the Narrator makes a (unintentional) joke.
    Narrator: SAY SOMETHING, HATTY! *incoherent babbling* Cat got your tongue? *rimshot* Shut up.
  • Rocket Jump: Some weapons have explosive abilities that can do this. Since most of those explosions are deadly if you're too close, the only one that it really works for is the Forceball.
  • Saw Blades of Death: Later stages feature floor- or ceiling-mounted circular saws. Those saws move back and forth, changing direction after they hit the end or another saw blade.
  • Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: The narrator, particularly in the intro. At one point, he ends up making the wrong sound effect (a lighting explosion for wind sounds), and clearly backtracks to fix it.
  • Scatting: The song for the secret areas is clearly the narrator making just about any sound he can make, with occasional shouts of "It's a secret!". It's as silly as it sounds.
  • Secret Level: One in every world, gotten to from certain spots in levels. While they don't count towards completion, they all contain seven gems, a yarn ball, and the narrator scatting about it being a secret area.
  • Sentry Gun: Floor-mounted sentry guns move aim left and right, shooting out red cubes.
  • Sidetracked by the Analogy: Frequent with the narrator, such as in his gem lines:
    "Toot-toot! All aboard the gem train! U-uh, next stop… Rich Town! Have your ticket ready."
    "Lets pile all of these into a big mountain, and call it "Gem Mountain"! And then go sledding down Gem Mountain on our toboggans! And then— uh— maybe go eat something, and— g— sh— and get some cocoa… so— w-with, uh, marshmallows."
    "Why don't you treat yourself and go out for cheeseburgers and chocolate milkshakes and take me with you and treat me too?"
  • Significant Anagram: "Even the word 'hopeless' has 'hope' in it! And if you rearrange the letters, you get 'peeslosh'! …The last part was probably unnecessary."
  • Solid Clouds: Clouds in this game can be walked on, acting as Directionally Solid Plaftorms.
  • Spikes of Doom: What would a platformer be without them?
  • Springs, Springs Everywhere: This game's version of springs are lava blocks, which bounce you in the opposite direction you touch them.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: A lot of weapons explode in some way, from logical grenades to the odd rigged paper airplanes.
  • Sudden Musical Ending: First comes the moving tribute to Hatty… and then an upbeat song about buckling your pants.
  • Super Drowning Skills: To a point that they're basically puddles, yet they're still deadly should you fall in.
  • Super-Persistent Missile: Missile Bots fire missiles that have very good homing capabilities. At least they're slow.
  • Surreal Humor: The ending.
  • Timed Mission: The Finale and Encore levels in each world do this. The time limit is extended by touching checkpoints, but if it runs out, the level must start over.
  • Toilet Humour: Purrham Furbottom, the man who created Battleblock Theater (In-Universe, of course), died because he couldn't reach the bathroom in time to take a dump, due to an illogical hatred of intermissions.
  • Token Human: Purrham Furbottom is the only human in the game, as the friends are Ambiguously Human at best, and everything else is an animal, robot, or piece of toast.
  • Treasure Is Bigger in Fiction: Green collectable gems are as big as players themselves.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Surprisingly averted by the, ahem, eccentric narrator in general. Whatever he's saying seems to legitimately be what's going on in the game.
    • This also helps show just how Genre Savvy the Narrator is: he's aware the player probably thinks this about him. This means that even when he's saying what's probably the truth (most notably, what's wrong with the hat), he says he doesn't expect you to believe him.
  • Utility Weapon: Several of the weapon/tools have this quality. For example, the boomerang will stun enemies but also retrieve objects for the player. Also, the dart gun will stun enemies it hits, but the darts also stick in the wall, where you can jump off them.
  • Vent Physics: Eventually, fans start appearing as an obstacle, producing winds that blow the players away.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The Vault.
  • Video Game Flight: There's three items that allow for flight in some way; the jetpack, which gives three fixed-angle jumps that can be used consecutively, the propeller or "whirlybird", which gives more horizontal distance than vertical, and the wings, which gives a lot of small jumps in the air until it runs out.
  • Villainous Breakdown: As the story goes on, the cats become increasingly aggressive and outright insane as it becomes more and more clear that Hatty completely sucks at his new job.
  • X-Ray Sparks: Touching a laser causes the character to be electrocuted to that extent.