Battletoads – A Beat ‘Em Up Retrospective

Battletoads is a great example of something that’s awesome in my memory, but in reality it is closer to garbage. I know I shouldn’t say that but someone has to. The quirkyness must be more memorable than the frustrations. Because at a glance it appears to be a fun game. However, as soon as you give it more time it all falls apart.

bt2
The game starts out fine. It plays like any beat ’em up, except it does things better than most of the other 8 bit brawlers.  One button is punch and kick, the other is jump. Which is perfect. Nothing complicated yet. There are weapons in the form of alien robot legs, and they are very fun to use. There are even crazy cartoon effects like when your toad uses a giant fist or boot to send enemies flying off screen.bt6

The first level is nice and short and has a unique boss battle. All the developers had to do was stick to that formula, and basically re-hash that level over and over. Then Battletoads would be an all time classic for rational reasons.

bt7bt8
It’s no wonder kids grow up resenting change, it’s caused by agony like Battletoads. Because the very next level becomes extremely tedious. The player hangs from a rope kicking annoying foes that take way too long to kill. This stage drags on and on and on. And on. Even the controls are loose. I always end up swinging around the screen like a lunatic. bt3bt4
After the punishment of that stage the game rewards it’s fans with more beat ’em up action reminiscent of the opening level. Perhaps letting the player know things are about to get fun again…But no, it’s just a tease. What happens next has haunted kids for years in the early 1990s. And it is what my therapist has described as ‘the trauma’.

bt5
Level 3 is virtually impossible. Unless you’re among the greatest gamers in the world. Or had nothing better to do for days on end, and memorized the course and got a little lucky. That was my winning strategy.
There is much more game left after that disaster. So much game play that so few have ever experienced. I actually explored those levels to the end in the Rare Replay release on Xbox One. It features the ability to rewind your game to correct mistakes.  And I nearly wore out the rewind button on my controller.  The point is that Battletoads sheds most of it’s beat ’em up ways and becomes more of a platformer and I also learned that no one is missing out. Also I really like to waste time.

Thankfully Battletoads returned to its roots triumphantly in later years. But that’s another story for another post.

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