Enjoy hard games? Even if they cause you to scream at the top of your lungs? Well, this is THE GAME for you – Battletoads. It started off as a beat em up made to rival the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games, and ended up becoming a sort of god of extremely difficult games. It’s not a case of “every gamer who plays this game just sucks at gaming”, mostly because even the most experienced gamer finds this to be hard. At the same time, it’s the sort of game that keeps you coming for more, hoping to get past that part you were stuck on, just to find a whole new part to be stuck on. That’s the spell this game will put you on...
Story: While Pimple and Princess Angelica were cruising (and making out I assume), the Dark Queen’s giant ship eats their car and takes them to another planet, leaving Rash and Zitz to go and save them... with some assistance from Professor Bird and the ship, The Vulture. As per usual, the story is simplistic, on a rigid line and never really develops, meaning it doesn’t overshadow the gameplay. But if you want a more detailed version, there’s always the comic in one of the issues of Nintendo Power. For now, let’s just stick with what we got for the game.
Gameplay: It’s a beat em up with some platforming elements. The basic idea is to find some enemies and beat the everloving crap out of them until they faint and disappear. As per usual for an arcade styled beat em up, you get points, and if you get enough, you gain an extra life, though it’s probably in your best interest to live, since three continues is all you get, and you’ll be back at the beginning of the game if you lose them. I’ll get into detail as to why I don’t agree with that later, but let’s get over some other stuff first.
Throughout levels, you’ll encounter a few things that gives you health, takes your health, and gives you a free life. Flies will restore health (duh, they’re toads). 1Ups... well, you know what happens there. These space invader-looking things will take health, unless you hit them just once and get back the square if they steal it.
Battletoads is best known for more than its extreme difficulty. It also has some genius level designs. You don’t really notice this until level two, though it’s not to say that the first level is terrible; just generic. The first level is just a series of platforms to jump across while beating up pigs. The boss battle visuals are a nice touch, being all infrared and stuff, but that doesn’t completely save it from being a mediocre level in comparison to the rest, like level 2. Sure, you’re just going down, but you get to fight a bunch of creatures with awesome swinging attacks – how is this not a fun design?
Then you look at level three... You wouldn’t know from the first third of the level, since you’re still on platforms, fighting enemies, but then hop on those vehicles. You have to have some fast reflexes and excellent memory in order to keep your wits about you while you avoid tall blocks, jump over small blocks on the ground, and keep under airborne blocks. This manages to mix up the usual formula, so you can tell that this game isn’t a generic beat em up and platformer hybrid.
But seriously, whenever people talk about Battletoads, they talk about its extreme difficulty. For once, it’s not just the enemies that live up to this difficulty, unlike a certain other game (I’m looking at you, Ghosts And Goblins). The game has legitimate challenge in every aspect, such as platforming, a few surprise elements to distinguish a level from the rest disguised as one hit killers, and... well, yeah, enemies and bosses. Everything that moves is a potential death trap. Does this mean the game is impossible? Nope. The game is very, very hard, yeah, but it’s still pretty damn fun to fail over and over. It pisses you off just enough to keep you coming.
Two things manage to screw this up – continues, and 2 player mode. Having continues in a game like this is a cruel joke. Why the hell can’t I have infinite continues? I mean, I’m going to be playing it all day, so why not just give me infinite continues!? Cripes, man, this is just a big middle finger when you nearly beat a level, die, and considering that was your last life and last continue, oops, you’re back to the beginning while Rare laughs at you.
Two player mode is an absolute joke. It’s simultaneous, and the game was fun for one player, so what can go wrong with two players? Two words – friendly fire. You can smack your ally around and have him lose lives, which means you’re BOTH back at the beginning of the level if your ally loses all of their continues. WHY!? Couldn’t you just let the single player continue, or let the ally start near the single player? I don’t know, just some suggestions to make two player mode something that can be completed!
Controls: It’s hard to deny how awesome these controls are. The toads have no problem responding to each button press or movement or whatever. They jump high (they’re toads, what would you expect), and when airborne, they’re easy to control, responding to your movements and even attack in the air. There’s usage of double tapping left or right to run, and when you attack an enemy, you ram into them! Seriously, could you ever ask for more fluent and excellent controls?
Graphics: At face value, they look like a good set of visuals. It sports some detailed backgrounds, some excellent color usage, nice looking characters, crispy-looking screen – the works. Then you notice some rather exaggerated looking poses during the toads’ attacks, like a giant boot for the killer kick, a giant fist for the killer punch, ram horns when ramming (get it? hurhur), and some other cool looking alteration during a big attack. This gives the graphics quite a lot of personality. Oh, sure, you could just have them pulling back and there, the end. Or you could give them a giant fist of fury to punch the enemies’ lights out! You decide! This is Rare’s first instance of giving a crap about the visuals to a high degree, which will extend onto and finish with the N64.
Audio: The music is pretty good as well, as I just got done playing the game and the music is still stuck in my head. The music starts off great, with this type of ass kicking music that fits the stages perfectly, and makes the game seem just as frantic as it actually is. Upbeat and fast is the name of the game here! The sound effects are awesome too, especially the sounds of the enemies getting their asses handed to them.
Replay Value: Despite the game being a lot of fun, there isn’t much replay value to be had. This is one of those games where the difficulty hinders reason to replay a game after finishing it. You conquer a hard game... You tend to only want to do it once, since there are other games to finish, and it’ll only take a good amount of time to finish again. It’s not like we got 25 hours a day to play games now, do we...
Overall: Battletoads makes for a hell of a challenging yet fun experience for a lone player, yet when playing with a friend... just don’t, unless you don’t mind dying a million and one times. Everything about this game manages to challenge the hell out of you, and also manages to entertain you a lot. It's not like Ghosts And Goblins where the difficulty is the only thing that stands out - Battletoads also has excellent level design, slick controls, and cool graphics and soundtrack to back it up. Truly an awesome yet hard as tits experience.
Replay Value: 4/10
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