There's nothing worse than a game that stresses character and attitude
over gameplay. See, as a selling point, marketing people try to make
video game characters appealing, usually by making them "cool" and
"with an attitude". This works in some cases (Sonic the Hedgehog)
and fails in others (Bubsy). The reason behind Bubsy's failure was
that it wasn't a very good game, even though it was so very hyped up.
What is the point of this, you ask? This is a NES review page, not
my ranting column about video game marketing! Well, Battletoads
suffers from the same syndrome...excellent characters, great idea...
There are actually three Battletoads (appealingly named Rash, Pimple, and
Zit) but one of them has been captured, along with the obligatory princess.
For some reason, the evil Dark Queen did this, probably to lure the
"Battlejerks" into her hideout where they would meet their demise. Well,
they won't stand for that, so it's off to the rescue. When you first
start the game, isn't doesn't seem that bad. It's vaguely like a simplified
Double Dragon, with an attack button and jump button. Once you hit an
enemy enough times with normal punches, you send out a wallop that sends
that bad guy flying! There are also robots on stilts (once you kill
the robots, you can take their legs and use it as a weapon), and dragons
that you can mount and fly. The way you fight the boss is even innovative...
you don't actually see the boss, but the view is from the point of the monster,
looking at the Battletoads. Very cool indeed. Now only if the rest of
the game was like this.
You then descend into a crater, hanging on a bungee cord, working your
way down. Once you reach the bottom, after some more fighting, you have
to hop into a hovercraft and race. The object is to move up and down
to dodge walls, most of which come at you too fast to comprehend. This
is where things start to go wrong. If you actually beat the level,
there are several more than involve surfing over logs, climbing moving
snakes while making ridiculously tough jumps to avoid getting killed
by spikes, or racing a rat, on foot, to the bottom of a shaft to defuse
a bomb. In the ice levels, you are forced to make nasty, precise jumps with
a character that's hard to control when they jump.
Why can't there just be more of the *bam* *thwip* *pow* of the
first level? Why must the game change from a beat-em-up, to a reflex
tester, to an annoying side-scroller? That side-scroller is where the
worst of the game is...you must make very precise jumps or else you die.
Obviously, Battletoads is extremely hard. Almost everyone I know that has
this game can't beat the racing segment on the third level. The later
levels aren't any easier...racing that rat to defuse the bomb is near
impossible, and swimming through the ducts of the Gargantuan spaceship
is downright damn impossible, due to the swimming fish and the narrow
passages, and even that gigantic gear chasing you, forcing you to
make split-second moves. You get four lives, which go by quickly, and a few
If there's one thing to not complain about, it's the graphics. The backgrounds
are all excellent, using plenty of multi-plane scrolling, rare in an NES
title. All of the 'toads special manuevers are very goofy and cool looking,
and everything is animated well. The last level, with the rotating cool,
is especially cool (although you'll find the same thing in Kirby's Adventure,
a much better game.) The sound is okay...it's full of thumps that seem
to go along with the image of a pig being booted several feet in the air.
Most of the music is very annoying, except for the title screen tune, which
is half decent. The game controls fine in the Double Dragon-like segments,
but jumping seems too "floaty", which makes the jumping more frustrating
than neccessary. Manuevering through underwater spikes is also very hard
because of the jumpy controls. But more of the games faults lie in
overambition than sloppy game control.
If Battletoads had stuck to its original game, it would've been awesome.
If the other parts of the game weren't so bloody difficult, it would've
been great. If you have unlimited continues, plenty of lives, and
would not die so damn easily (and sent back so far, in some portions
of the game) Battletoads would be playable. Alas, these faults make
Battletoads incredibly difficult to enjoy and actually have fun. If
you're the competetive type who wants to spend hours tearing your hair
out to beat the ridiculously difficult areas and then brag to your
friends, so be it. Everyone else, pack a Game Genie. It still won't help
those spikes though (extra lives will help you practice!)