BattleBlock Theater

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
BattleBlock Theater Game Poster Image
Raucous co-op platformer with lots of cartoony death.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 15 reviews

A lot or a little?

Parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational value

Kids will learn about teamwork and digital creation in this fun but somewhat violent platforming game. The story and Arena modes -- which involve lots of cartoonish death scenes that see boulders squishing avatars and characters being electrocuted -- force players to talk to each other and work as teams to overcome obstacles. Outside of the cooperative story, kids can explore their imagination by designing levels of their own and placing traps and enemies with an aim to challenge their friends.

Positive messages

This game entertains players primarily via Looney Tunes-style humor and cartoonish violence. It also encourages teamwork, social play, and creativity via a simple level editor.

Positive role models & representations

The game's blocky characters -- prisoners in an evil cat theater -- are forced to deal with one deadly challenge after another. Nothing they do can be emulated in the real world.

Ease of play

There isn't a traditional tutorial, but signs in the environment warn players of danger and offer hints as to what they might need to do. The default difficulty setting is pretty forgiving, with the player's characters granted infinite lives and generous spawning points. A harder difficulty dubbed "insane" limits players to one life per level. 

Violence

The game's small, cartoonish, blocky characters suffer a variety of deaths, from being electrocuted (revealing an x-ray like image of their skeletons) to popping like a balloon with bits of cloth-like skin floating to the ground. There is no blood or gore, but some deaths result in dry bones bouncing around the ground. Also, some squishy red blocks and red liquid spaces in the environment could be interpreted as representing flesh and/or blood, though the game does not identify them as such.

Sex
Language

Plenty of humorous references to poop and diarrhea, but no harsh language.

Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that BattleBlock Theater is a side-scrolling platformer and fighting game with cartoon violence. The player's small, block-like character can suffer a broad range of deaths, from slow drowning and electrocution to spike impalement and being swallowed whole by a reindeer raccoon. Tiny dry bones sometimes go flying after an avatar's death. Violence aside, it offers a positive social and cooperative gaming experience, encouraging up to four gamers to play and laugh together in the same room, as well as an outlet for digital creativity via a level editor.

User Reviews

Parent of a 13 year old Written bysonatro ambrola June 14, 2015

A positive game for kids

this game is very positive and creative with even its own level editor it is a major step up from violent games because kids find it fun and it is not voilent,...
Kid, 9 years old May 27, 2013

ages 10

This game has minor violence and mild blood awarding the game the rated T rating its still good for the younger ones who can take it Violence 3/5 corpses mild b...
Kid, 12 years old May 11, 2013

What's it about?

Cartoony cats are portrayed as evil and sadistic in BATTLEBLOCK THEATER, a downloadable game for Xbox Live Arcade. The felines take a group of blocky protagonists prisoner when they wash up on the cats' strange island. The cats force the players' heroes to traverse dozens of deadly side-scrolling obstacle courses for their amusement, leaping over liquid-filled chasms, avoiding beams of electricity, and dealing with enemies ranging from kung fu kittens to weird reindeer raccoons, all the while keeping an eye out for gems, strawberries, and balls of yarn that can be used to buy new avatar items and offensive abilities in the prison gift shop. Beyond the campaign lies an arena mode containing eight team-based and competitive game types for up to four players, as well as a level editor that allows players to quickly and easily build and share their own challenges with players around the world.

Is it any good?

You're unlikely to find an XBLA game with more content than this polished little platformer. The story mode -- which has a wickedly funny narrator -- lasts nearly 10 hours and offers a very different experience if you play with friends, who can throw each other across gaps and help lug each other up onto high ledges.

The Arena mode, meanwhile, is essentially a Super Smash Bros. game in miniature, with no less than eight different modes, ranging from a world coloring challenge to king of the hill contests. And the easy-to-use level editor offers hours more fun, both in creating and sharing your own playlists of up to 15 themed levels and playing those crafted by other gamers. Even if only one of the game's three pillars of play appeals, it's still well worth the $15 investment. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. This game features frequent violence, but it doesn't involve humans, is very cartoonish, and stops short of blood and gore (though players will see tiny bones). What age do you think it's appropriate for?

  • Families can also discuss social gaming. Do you like to play games alone or with friends? If the former, are there times you wish you could share your experience? If the latter, are you occasionally frustrated when your gaming pals keep you from doing what you want to do? Are there games that can satisfy both types of gamer at the same time?    

Game details

For kids who love unusual games

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