Things don't improve as the game progresses. The references are dull, witless and in many cases painfully unoriginal. The world does not need another Super Mario parody. There is nothing inventive or funny about exclamation mark blocks you shoot to collect coins, and sticking a few pipes in the scenery does not equate to satire.
Then there are Matt Hazard's catchphrases. He tries to remind you how self-aware the whole thing is by saying things like "It's ragdoll time!" and "Nice AI, bozo." These lines are sort of amusing the first time you hear them. Not so much seven levels later, when you have heard them seven thousand times, and would rather carve each syllable into your own thigh with a biro than have to hear them again. Other catchphrases include "You wouldn't like me when I'm angry" and "I'm a hazard... To your health." These are presumably meant to be parodies of videogame clichés, but really they're just clichés, and once again they're repeated far too many times to be anything other than infuriating.
The same goes for the game design. It's level after level of left-to-right trudging and shooting with almost no variation. The occasional attempts to break up the monotony are tedious and unoriginal, like the section where you must jump from roof to roof along the carriages of the world's slowest-moving train. Towards the end there's a rip-off of Lunar Lander, the ancient Atari arcade game which involved piloting a descending spaceship using highly sensitive controls. This sort of thing was fun in 1979, but that was before we had things like Sky+ and internet pornography and pesto to keep us entertained. Still, the Lunar Lander bit is one of the highlights of Blood Bath and Beyond, which is saying something.
In no way is it a reason to cough up 1200 Microsoft Points (£10.20 in real money), and nor is the game as a whole. Only if you're desperate for a bit of old-fashioned side-scrolling shooter action, the kind where all you have to do is blow up endless generic baddies without thinking too hard, should a purchase be worth considering. Even then, bear in mind the fact you'll breeze through all eight levels in a couple of hours. (There's a 10G Achievement for completing one of them within 12 minutes, which should give you some idea of we're dealing with here.) A tenner is a lot to ask for a game this short, derivative and repetitive.
Especially when there are much better ways to spend your money, such as buying Shadow Complex - also a side-scrolling shooter, also on XBLA, also priced at 1200 Points, but not also a bit rubbish. Boot it up after completing Matt Hazard and the difference in quality is obvious and huge. It's got cut-scenes, for starters. Not to mention intelligent level design and progressive character development, with not a Super Mario parody in sight
Blood Bath and Beyond just can't match up. It's not a terrible game, just an utterly unoriginal and instantly forgettable one. The humour which is supposed to elevate it above this status falls flat, the presentation is poor and it's just not worth a tenner. Spend your cash on Shadow Complex instead, or start saving up for that hoverboard.