Somewhere in space a crack group of cosmic commandos, the Battletoads, are escorting Princess Angelica back to her home planet with Doctor T.Bird piloting their ship, The Vulture. One of the toads, Pimple, takes the princess on a little joyride in his flying car… for some reason. At this point The Dark Queen’s ship, The Gargantua, tractor beams the little car into her ship and whisks them away to Ragnarok’s Planet — I’m gonna assume it’s as tough and awesome as it sounds. When Dr. Bird realizes what’s happened he dispatches the remaining toads, Rash and Zitz, to the planet to execute a daring rescue.
Battletoads was developed by Rare and published by Tradewest. The basic idea was to do Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the way Rare wants to — oh yeah and sell a helluva lotta merchandise. The game started out as a stock beat ’em up but Rare designers found that to be too generic and as such added more varied mechanics and level types.
Fun Fact: Before they settled on Battletoads, Amphibianz was seriously considered as the title of the game — I’m glad the unnecessary Z made it into Zitz’ name.
Battletoads was released in June of 1991. It’s competition was Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega Genesis), Super Mario World (SNES), and Final Fantasy IV (SNES)
I can’t begin to express what I find so humorous about the Battletoads Game Store prank. I can’t even explain how it’s a prank. It simply entails someone calling up a Gamestop and ask if they have a copy of Battletoads for purchase — I’ve also heard of a variant for calling up a store and asking for a pre-order for Battletoads II. I just think the concept of calling up a modern game shop and requesting a copy of Battletoads is simply absurd and therefore funny. Something makes it even funnier when you know the employee taking the call — but the clerk my local 3-D Games store would know nothing about that.
For such an old title Battletoads is a shockingly diverse game. At first glance it may seem like a mere beat ’em up but like a magnolia of pain it blossoms into something so much greater and devastating. It’s almost in a league of its own, Battletoads is like Battletoads, it defies analogy — if you put a gun to my head and asked, ‘WHAT GAME IS LIKE THIS GAME’ I’d probably wet myself but after I was done crying I would grudgingly shrug out Earthworm Jim?
From beat up ups, to climbing levels, to racing levels, to dodging levels, this game has got nearly anything you can do on two legs and a jet bike. This being said it’s also so fucking-mothering hard that I only made it to level three. I made it to the infamous jet bike level and only because I warped there from level 1! I couldn’t even beat level 2 legit — I couldn’t penetrate the Wookie Hole if you will. Get your patience, save states, skills, or whatever you got ready because this is the game that defined the term Nintendo Hard.
The music in this game is a marvel of chip-tunes. It creates a rough-and-tumble otherworldly atmosphere that makes me thrilled to go smash some alien scum with my muscly toad body — and get annihilated.
This game might be hard as balls but it’s got some codes and warps to help you through. Nearly every even numbered level has a hidden level warp in it so look them up if a stage is giving you trouble. You can also get some extra lives at the beginning of the game or on Continue screens by hold A, B, down, and then pressing start.
For it’s time and even beyond this game looks fantastic. The colors pop, the shapes and images are recognizable — if a little goofy — and it’s easy on the eyes.
For a game in which dying is a fact of life I never blamed the controls for a single death. I blamed the design and my own lack of skill a lot but I never thought ‘Why didn’t that work?’ or ‘I was totally pressing down!’
I’m not exactly certain why our dear toads even have six health points. It seems like almost every attack does either one damage, half, or all of it. I was legit shocked when the pterodactyls from the first level killed me in one hit. With a life lost I crushed the thing and pressed on to be taunted by some healing flies which were now useless.
The game has a devilishly good difficulty curve with each level ramping up difficulty until a crescendo if incredibly difficult tasks. This creates a problem however when I die late in a level and have to start the whole thing over again. Playing through the sort of ‘training’ parts repeatedly are really boring, mainly because…
… this game relies a lot on rote memorization. Things will ambush you, the speeder bike levels eventually turn into ‘do you remember the pattern?’, and there’s no recourse but to die and try to remember it for next time. It’s about as fun as a game of Simon and just as rewarding.
I’ve got to say that in my estimation this game is tooooooo hard for me. Call me a filthy casual who needs to git gud if you must but I’m just not a huge fan. If you want to own a copy of hard videogame history then Battletoads is actually a shockingly painless purchase. It’s on Amazon new for a mere 31 dollars, which might be pricey for an NES game but considering the insane collectible value of games I’ve been reviewing lately it seems like a breath of fresh air. If the concept of playing or beating a game that made me turn back — and I’m a guy who beat Bubsy — then give it a whirl!
Next Week: Little Inferno