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Battletoads Review

North American Box Art

Ah yes…Warrior Amphibians! Such an epic ga…wait…OH! My Bad! I meant to say Battletoads! Lol! Yes, Battletoads was an epic game for it’s time. A mixture of light slapstick comedy with a pinch of ass-kicking violence. Who could argue? Anyway, let’s take a look at Battletoads!

Released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in June of 1991, this little gem was made by Rare and published by Tradewest. Developed to be a rival to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games, Battletoads created it’s own legacy that indeed surpassed the TMNT games, but only by a bit. It is arguably one of the most graphically advanced video games ever released for the NES, at a time when the video game market was turning to the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis and Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The game became famous for its extreme difficulty and humorous ways of beating enemies, as during finishing attacks, the character’s body parts transform into gigantic, exaggerated appendages for devastating attacks and comic effect. Now, I personally think that’s bad-ass! I mean, who wouldn’t want to kick something super-hard and have your foot grow to the size of a bathtub? Think about that for a sec.

When performing a headbutt, you grow ram horns. Fucking epic!

Boot that motherfucker into ORBIT!

Now, the story is thus far: “After her defeat by the Galactic Corporation at the battle of Canis Major, the evil Dark Queen and her renegade space troops retreat to the outer reaches of the universe, hiding out in dark spaces between the stars. Meanwhile, on board the spaceship Vulture, Professor T. Bird and the trio of Battletoads – Rash, Zitz and Pimple – are escorting the Princess Angelica back to her home planet, where her father, the Terran Emperor, awaits her safe arrival. Along the way, Pimple, the biggest Battletoad, takes Angelica out for a cruise in the Toadster to a nearby Leisure Station, but the Dark Queen ambushes them before they can get there, and they are kidnapped and carried away to Ragnarok’s World, the Dark Queen’s planet. Professor Bird sends remaining Battletoads down on Ragnarok to save Pimple and Angelica, but it will be a hard battle against planet’s dangerous environments, traps and Dark Queen’s troops. They have to go a long way from planet’s rough surface to deep caves and landed Gargantua and ultimately to the Tower of Shadows, where the Dark Queen awaits.”

Now, this back story was featured in the comic(Which I believe came with the game) and eventually published in Nintendo Power Magazine.

Story aside, you had to rescue Pimple and the Princess, so you could only play as Rash and Zitz. Here’s a little info about the Toads!

Rash. Ew.

Rash is one of the three toads. His real name is Dave Shar(I shit you not), and he is differentiated by wearing sunglasses. He is green and fast. He is very similar to Zitz, and he is not as strong as Pimple.

 

Zitz(Ew.)

Zitz is one of the three toads and the team’s leader. His real name is Morgan Ziegler, and he’s differentiated from the other Battletoads by wearing a belt and gloves. His advantage is not force, like Pimple’s. He can think as well as fight, as his motto says. He was yellow in the first Battletoads and green in the other versions. Weird.

 

Pimple(WTF? Ew!)

Pimple, who’s real name is George Pie, is the muscle of the ‘Toads and prefers to fight instead of talk. Pimple’s skin has changed in appearance a few times over the course of the series. He began with a medium shade of green, just like the other two ‘Toads, and appears that way on the original box art. In the first game itself his skin was a darker shade of green, matching Rash but not Zitz. His skin was later changed to a light tan before finally being presented with a brown color for his skin, which is now considered his official skin color. He appears with his current color in Battletoads & Double Dragon and the arcade version as well.

Gameplay is considered a mix between side-scrolling fighting games (similar to that seen in Double Dragon) and arcade-styled vehicle stages. Fighting areas require the ‘Toads to punch enemies to weaken them, then finish them off with a Smash Hit(When your appendage grows all Hulk-like). Vehicle stages often require precision reflexes and pattern memorization in order to evade all the incoming obstacles, almost all of which are fatal to collide with. Between this and the speed in which they appear, these stages provide much of the game’s intense challenge level.

An example of a Vehicle portion of a level

One major issue is that the player gets three lives (or five, with aid of a code) and only three continues. Once it is all depleted, the player must start all over again. In a 2-player game, both characters share the already-limited continues. Also, in vehicle stages, if one Toad loses a life, both of them must return to the last-reached checkpoint. Finally, there are no means to save game progress, so the entire game must be cleared in one sitting. You know what I say to this? BULLSHIT DONKEY COCK!!

Now I’m sure you’re thinking, “But Beau, you sexy Teddy Bear, those levels can’t be THAT hard, right?”, Oh…you sad, sad person. Let me tell you about all the levels:

Stage 1: Ragnarok’s Canyon – The game begins with a short fight across the surface of the planet, battling Psyko-Pigs and Walkers. A massive Mega-Walker guards the exit.

Stage 2: Wookie Hole(Lol!) – This is a mile-deep hole that leads down into the heart of the planet. The ‘Toads must rappel down to the bottom while avoiding birds and Retro-Blasters. Especially skilled players can earn extra lives by bouncing birds off the walls repeatedly.

Stage 3: Turbo Tunnel – This is the first level where the players ride a vehicle, in this case the Speeder Bikes, and must navigate a dangerous obstacle course at high speed. This is considered the first truly challenging area of the game, and it only gets harder from here.

Stage 4: Arctic Cavern – In this ice level, traction is reduced significantly, making it hard to avoid the attacks of crazed snowmen and deadly spikes.

Stage 5: Surf City – This time the ‘Toads ride surfboards, dodging logs and mines as they coast downriver. Halfway through this level, the players encounter Big Blag.

Stage 6: Karnath’s Lair – The players must navigate their way out of the stage by riding on giant snakes to reach the top, avoiding spikes as they go.

Stage 7: Volkmire’s Inferno – Titled after Silas Volkmire, the stage is aptly named. The ‘Toads ride jet-planes this time, flying through electrified force fields and dodging fireballs and missiles.

Stage 8: Intruder Excluder – The Toads find themselves in an elevator shaft full of new dangers, such as electrified platforms and toxic-gas sprayers. At the top is the feared biogen Robo-Manus.

Stage 9: Terra Tubes – The ‘Toads run, swim, and fight through a myriad of pipes. Watch out for rolling gears, self-destructing robots, and, worst of all… rubber duckies!

Stage 10: Rat Race – Here, the ‘Toads race Scuzz the Rat to the bottom of the shaft in order to defuse a series of bombs. After three victories over Scuzz, General Slaughter will appear to settle things himself.

Stage 11: Clinger Winger – Once more, the players ride a vehicle, this time a one-wheeled cycle with handlebars. You need to keep your speed up, especially around corners, in order to stay ahead of the pursuing Hypno-Orb. Once the race is won, you’ll be able to exact some revenge on the offending object.(FUCK THIS LEVEL!!)

Stage 12: The Revolution – Climbing the Dark Queen’s tower is a precarious, difficult task, with high winds, vanishing platforms, and hungry Rhynos threatening to ruin the climb.

Stage 13: Armageddon – It’s just you verses the Dark Queen. Pimple and Angelica are at stake, so don’t let them down now.

The original Battletoads was well-received by most gaming critics. However, it has been remembered for its extreme difficulty, even for experienced players such as myself. The game has even been included in numerous occasions among the hardest games ever made including the number one spot as determined by Gametrailers.com. Hands-down, the game is hard as rhino dicks, and yet we continue to play it, love it, worship it, fuck it(Maybe) and revere it. I, personally, have beaten this game…with the help of a 2nd player, but I still beat it!! In closing, I’d like to state that there is still one more thing that keeps the Battletoads spirit alive…4channers. They prank call GameStops and ask if they have Battletoads. Why those fellas do that perplexes me, and I can honestly say that I have been “Battletoaded” once when I worked for GameStop. Needless to say, I had fun with it and that weirdo never called back again.

Until next episode…

**Author’s Note: This will be my last retro review for a little bit. I’ll now be focusing on Editorials and newer games for a while. But fret not! I’ll put some more up soon!**

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