Battletoads for the NES was the original Dark Souls. A game where memorization, reflexes, and ‘git gud’ weren’t just a saying; they were a mantra you earned. Developed by the legendary Rare, Battletoads was a smash hit in the early 90s that spawned multiple sequels spanning all manner of platforms including a cross over with the iconic Double Dragon brothers (Bimmy and Jimmy- pun intended).
However, things quickly would evolve for Rare. They’d end up skipping the beat-em genre and enter into new adventures (Donkey Kong Country, Killer Instinct, Banjo Kazooie). One thing you can’t forget, however, is just how adamant fans are. Battletoads isn’t just another beat em up, they are distilled 90s culture drip fed into sprites.
Under new leadership and a current industry trend of revisiting past classics, Xbox Games Studios, under the guidance of Phil Spencer, has now made it a mission to give the fans what they want. And what have fans been asking for? An. All. New. Battletoads.
This is RemotePlay’s RADICAL review of Battletoads:
The new Battletoads is developed by Dlala Studios (with supervision by Rare). Rather than remake, the team decided to do a soft reboot where you play as the same three toads; Rash, Zitz, and Pimple after their victory against the Dark Queen. Unbeknownst to them, they were stuck in a bunker for the past 26 years with no one knowing who they are. The trio decides to make themselves famous again, this time with the help of their former nemesis, who also found herself imprisoned and forgotten for the past 2 decades.
While the story is mostly serviceable, I appreciate that the team decided to pepper it with a lot of humorous characters and dialogue. The cutscenes too were well done and managed to make me laugh quite a few times. While it has a few twists and turns, the story managed to get me captivated to know what will happen next. While the music didn’t really feel very catchy to me, sound effects, and voice acting is generally handled quite well.
Everything has this late 90s cartoon vibe going on, which I think works with what the game is aiming for. All the three toads were bang on with their personalities and the supporting characters and villains are just fun characters. Nothing is taken seriously with slapstick and toilet humor abound.
The levels in this game are quite varied, taking you from one distinct place to another with a lot of biodomes in play. Technically, the game doesn’t do anything special, but the team did some great work when it comes to character animations and enemy varieties. Whilst this isn’t as inspired as Cuphead, the visuals are pretty great.
Gameplay wise is a bit of a mixed bag. The beat-em up mechanics are fun, and there’s a bit of a depth going into it that you rarely see. There’s some obvious Devil May Cry inspiration with fighting against enemies, where other than your normal attacks and combos, you can launch enemies up in the air to juggle them. You can use your charged attack to break their block and even use your tongue to either pull enemies towards you or yourself towards them. There’s also a grade if you manage to style your way and get combos going.
This is how you bring Radioactive Amphibians into the modern era.
Coop is absolute mayhem, but like any beat em up, it’s a lot of fun with friends. For those that one to play it solo though, the game lets you swap between any of the toads with a push of the directional button, and this helps you pull off some crazy combo chains by using the mechanic effectively. As for the infamous difficulty the original game is known for, that is circumvented by letting you pick with the difficulty level you want it to be, so you can tone it down if you are feeling frustrated with some of the levels.
Unfortunately, there are some flaws with this game. While the different locations give you a lot of variety between levels, the issue is that it can feel sparse at times. Some of the minigames aren’t really as fun as the combat itself. One infamous level in the main game, which is known to be extremely difficult was turned from a side scrolling bike minigame to third person, and it felt tedious rather than fun. It is also disappointing that you can’t enjoy this with friends online, as co-op is only for local multiplayer only.
That aside, Battletoads certainly hits it out of the park when it comes to playing with friends, and a good romp for solo players. While it took me only 3 hours to complete the game the first time, this is pack and parcel for beat em ups, and part of the fun is going through it again, completing secrets, or beating your previous high scores. It’s a nice little game for Game Pass members, especially for fans of beat em ups in general.
A Review code was provided by Xbox UK
Developer: Dlala Studios / Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Release date: 20/08/2020
Platforms: Xbox One, Windows 10 PC
Version Reviewed: PC