Battletoads, last seen on the Super Nintendo unless you class Rash and his outing as a guest character in Killer Instinct is a series fans are really passionate about. After years of rumors and reveals it’s finally here, does it live up to its name or is it just out of luck and out of time? Onwards Toads!.
Battletoads stars 3 Toads named Rash, Zitz, and Pimple, they may or may not be brothers but as the game tells you, that’s a discussion for another time!. They are famous for defeating The Dark Queen and saving the universe, maybe with the help of the Lee Brothers from Double Dragon but who knows if that’s considered “Canon”.
Living the cushy life of being the worlds greatest comes crashing down when it turns out they have been trapped in a simulation for 26 years!. Struggling to live “normal” lives the Toads go on a quest to track down The Dark Queen, events unfold and the Toads and Queen form an uneasy alliance to take down mystical beings known as the Topians.
The main story scenario is as bonkers and wacky as a Saturday Morning Cartoon and is more than happy to poke fun at Battletoads being a franchise from the 90s SATAM era. At first, I thought the game would be riddled with memes and in-jokes but in all honesty, the game caught me off guard with its humour quite a few times. There are a few jokes that don’t quite land, mainly the main antagonists The Topians felt kinda dated but The Dark Queen stole the show more than a few times!.
Visually Battletoads is a beautifully vibrant, colourful, and fantastically animated game. Yes, the boys still do the “Shock” when a boss appears or an event occurs that throws them off guard. The cutscenes are genuinely TV show quality and coupled with the writing makes it feel a little bit more than just a game, more like an interactive series of a Netflix original adult comedy!.
My only main gripe with the visuals were the enemies, outside of a few of the boss battles the enemies are nondescript and could easily pass as unlockable characters or NPCs from the ToeJam & Earl series, another 90s game that recently came back and has a very similar art style!. I know Battletoads hasn’t really got that many iconic enemies outside of The Dark Queen but I’ve always associated Rats and Hogs with the series and you come across both in the first level then it’s weird alien creatures for the rest of the game.
On the audio side of things the voice acting is superb, it wouldn’t be a shock to me to see how many people praise The Dark Queen as she has some of the best lines and delivery in the story. The classic Battletoads theme is there and the boys themselves are more than capable of delivering some brilliant laughs and pokes at the very nature of the game itself.
So Battletoads wouldn’t be worthy of the name Battletoads if it didn’t do what the originals did best and mix up the gameplay stage by stage. You have the standard scrolling Beat Em Up style in the vein of the other recently released 90s throwback title Streets Of Rage 4. The combat is buttery smooth and the Toads still transform to end combos. You have new abilities in the form of zipping around with your tongue and also spitting gum at foes to put them out of commission for a bit, there is also a nifty dash which really could have used a few i-frames but all in all still worked well.
The game allows for 3 player couch co-op, no online here which is a massive bummer, if you’re playing the game solo then you can press the D-Pad to switch to one of the other Toads on the fly. There is also a feature where if you die enough times you can activate temporary invincibility to help you reach the end of the game, something many haven’t done with the original.
Turbo Bikes make a return and this time you’re flying towards the screen making it slightly easier. Now I understand why they are here, you think Battletoads you will eventually remember the nightmare that was the Turbo Tunnel. The issue here is I don’t think anyone actually liked that section in any of the games and while they are much easier here, they still aren’t exactly too fun, especially as this game tends to have them go on far too long.
There are also several other genre-bending modes such as a wonderful Bullet Hell Section, atmospheric platforming, and an infuriating selection of mini-games within QTE cutscenes. It’s a mixed bag but I’m more than happy to report that it’s more win than fail. Once again though some of these sections just drag on too damn long, especially the Bullet Hell section which was 3 whole stages of the game, I know there was a narrative to tell but jeez these took a toll on me after a while.
The game can be completed in one or two sittings, my first run came to 3 hours and 34 minutes on the standard difficulty with around half of the collectibles found and more than enough deaths!. Add another few hours if you want to collect everything which also requires you to get high scores on every combat section of the game and solve quite a few puzzles within the stages. While I’m on that, why on earth did they have to put so many Pipe Dream style puzzles within the game? I detest pipe dreams!.
My feelings on Battletoads initially started off was lukewarm and by the end of the game, I was absolutely enamored in the title. I think Dlala Studios not only did a fantastic job of rebooting Battletoads for the modern-day but managed to showcase how talented they are in multiple genres. Nothing would please me greater if they get the chance to work with the franchise for the future and take the core ideas in this title and grow them further, trim down some of the sections and really explore what they could do with this newly rebooted universe.
Battletoads may be famous for brawling & turbo tunnels but it’s easy to forget that throughout the series they have always mixed up gameplay styles between levels and Battletoads is a glorious reminder of this. Hopefully, Microsoft sees as much potential as I do and continues to grow the series, even if it’s a mini-game collection disguised as an over the top Saturday Morning Cartoon style brawler. Welcome back ‘Toads, you have been sorely missed!.
It’s great to see the Toads back. Hopefully it’s not another 26 years before they grace our screens again. Toadally awesome.