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|Headquarters||Glenside, Pennsylvania, United States|
The Behemoth is an independent video game developer established in 2003 by Tom Fulp, Dan Paladin, and John Baez. Led by Tom Fulp, the company has a leading independent game developer, and has created a number of notable titles.
Tom Fulp got his start in the video game world by creating the Flash games and movies website Newgrounds.com in 1995. Although the website initially only contained Fulp's own creations, it soon came to showcase a variety of peoples' work using the Flash Portal, where anybody could upload their work.
While running Newgrounds, Tom Fulp continued to create his own games, including 1999's revolutionary Pico's School, arguably the most advanced Flash-based game ever created at the time, and a variety of other projects. Eventually, he came to collaborate with Dan Paladin, an artist, on several games, most notably the 2D side-scrolling shooter Alien Hominid.
In early 2003, John Baez, an employee at a medium-sized console developer, foresaw that the company would soon go under, and approached Dan Paladin with a proposition; to make Alien Hominid into a full console game. Dan Paladin and Tom Fulp eventually agreed. Several other people were recruited, and The Behemoth was born.
The Behemoth's first project was a console version of Alien Hominid. The game was unusual at the time in that it was a fully 2D title, featuring Dan Paladin's signature animation style. The game was under development for almost two full years, during which time the basic concept of the Flash prototype was greatly expanded. The console iteration of the game would feature nearly eighteen stages, several boss fights, a multiplayer mode, and minigames.
Upon its American release on the Dreamcast and GameCube in December 2004, Alien Hominid was a critical hit. Critics praised the game's 2D art, refinement of old-school gaming tropes and concepts, and sense of humor. The game was also a minor sales success, selling almost a quarter million copies between the two systems.
As soon as it became apparent that their first game was a success, The Behemoth began work on its next game, Castle Crashers. Initially, the game was meant to be a Dreamcast exclusive, making use of its online functionality. However, as the game's development time went on, and the potential of the 7th generation consoles became clear, it was decided to make Castle Crashers a Revolution and Pluto downloadable title instead. In the meantime, an updated HD version of Alien Hominid was brought to the nascent online stores of the two systems in 2007.
Castle Crashers and Expansion
Later on in the development of Castle Crashers, Tom Fulp recruited members of Newgrounds to help create the game's soundtrack. Impressed by the quality of their work, and realizing that Castle Crashers would end up being a major hit, Tom Fulp decided to expand the company by recruiting popular Newgrounds content creators. These artists, programmers, and musicians included Shawn Tanner, aka Afro-Ninja, Marco Arsenault, aka Evil-Dog, and Luis Castanon, aka Luis.
After Castle Crashers was released in the summer of 2008, it quickly became one of the most popular games of its type ever created, and broke a combined total of a million sales across platforms within a matter of months. It was decided that The Behemoth should not only continue developing games for these online stores, but should also begin developing more than one game at once. The team behind Castle Crashers began work on a new game called BattleBlock Theater, while many of the newcomers would create a new team to remake Newgrounds Flash games into console titles, in a fashion similar to Alien Hominid. It was decided that this new team's first translation would be Newgrounds Rumble, based off of the hit Fighting game that featured the stars of several Flash games and movies.
Meanwhile, Castle Crashers continued to be supported after launch. New DLC was created for the game, featuring new characters and weapons, eventually including ones meant to advertise other games from The Behemoth. It was also eventually ported to the PC.
Newgrounds Rumble was released on the Pluto and Revolution in late 2010. The game featured a cast not only originating from Newgrounds.com, but also from other independent games. Although not a huge success on the scale of Castle Crashers, Newgrounds Rumble was a moderate-sized hit, and, like other crossover fighters, introduced a lot of more characters to the general gaming public. Its online play gave Newgrounds Rumble longevity, and the game continued to be a mainstay amongst fighting fans for the rest of the generation.
- Alien Hominid - 2004
- Alien Hominid HD - 2007
- Castle Crashers - 2008
- Newgrounds Rumble - 2010
- BattleBlock Theater - 2013
On March 6, 2005, the popular American television show 60 Minutes ran a feature about video games. The show reported on a lawsuit against several companies based on the assumption that Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was responsible for the death of three police officers. The man responsible for the deaths was found to have possessed a GameCube and a copy of the game,
Although 60 Minutes never specifically denounced video gaming in general, the language used was highly derogatory, both towards Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and the gaming industry in general. Furthermore, although several supporters of the lawsuit were interviewed extensively, only one defender of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was interviewed, and received little air time at that.
Tom Fulp, the co-founder of The Behemoth, had found himself on the receiving end of this sort of controversy before, as his 1999 flash game Pico's School had been crusaded against by moral guardians. Wishing to prove to the general public that gamers were fundamentally good people, Fulp announced the creation of "Extra Life," a nonprofit organization devoted to providing aid for children in need, both in the United States and around the world.
The announcement of Extra Life was made on March 17, 2005, via The Behemoth's website and on Newgrounds.com. The initial version of the charity would donate money and toys and games to several hospitals in Eastern Pennsylvania, including the famous Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Tom Fulp and various employees of both The Behemoth and Newgrounds pleaded to their fans and supporters to either donate via their charity or send appropriate toys and games to nearby hospitals.
By the end of 2005, over $400,000 had been raised through Extra Life. Furthermore, an untold number of toys and games had been donated to hospitals around the world.
Extra Life continued to operate into 2006 and 2007, as the charity was expanded to include a number of hospitals across North America. 2007 marked the first year that Extra Life was mentioned in a game, Alien Hominid HD, where it was featured in the credits. Since then, all games from The Behemoth have included references to the charity. Furthermore, many other independent developers have begun including references to Extra Life, either as Easter eggs or as outright advertisements.
With the release of Castle Crashers in 2008, Tom Fulp and The Behemoth found a new way to raise money for their charity. A portion of the money made from all downloadable content would go to Extra Life. Typically, 100% of revenue made within the first 24 hours would go to Extra Life, with 25% of revenue made afterwards going to the charity.
After the Haiti Earthquake of January 2010, The Behemoth had a temporary sale of sorts for Alien Hominid HD and all Castle Crashers-related purchases. For every purchase of those games made from January 17 to 19, The Behemoth would donate 150% of revenues to hospitals in Haiti, meaning that the company actually lost tens of thousands of dollars in the process.
The "Earthquake Sale," as it was known, had a major impact on the gaming community. In addition to creating a group of gamers that were highly respectful of the company, it helped bring Extra Life into the public consciousness. 2010 would be the charity's biggest year yet by far, with millions of dollars being donated by gamers directly in addition to proceeds from The Behemoth's activities. Tom Fulp would be one of Time Magazine's Top 100 most influential people in the world for 2010, for a combination of his heavy influence on the gaming industry, as shown by the success of The Behemoth and Newgrounds, and his successfully establishing a major charity.
By the end of 2012, over $40 million had been donated to Extra Life, not counting the hundreds of thousands of dollars donated by The Behemoth.
On January 7, 2013, Tom Fulp announced a new fundraiser for Extra Life in cooperation with The Behemoth. The top 100 donors to the charity between then and the release of BattleBlock Theater would have their names included in the game.