Battletoads (NES Review)

All you had to do was bring the puck!
All you had to do was bring the puck!

Now this is what I call a game. True, this is a game that was made six years after Super Mario Bros and we’re right to expect progress. Battletoads takes that progression, polishes it to the nth degree and chucks in more than a sprinkling of genuine invention, the likes of which you hardly see on the NES. The Battletoads must kick ass – this is the plot. They’re on an alien planet and they must smash all the aliens. Literally. It’s a side scrolling (for the most part) beat em up where all enemies must be defeated to progress.


Aw come on! Play fair!!!
Aw come on! Play fair!!!


Rash (our main protagonist) has one combo move (punch, punch, big punch) and jump in these sections.  Despite this lack of variety, levels are fun.  The levels are extremely colourful and well detailed for the NES.  They also have a 3-D feel generated by the depth of the levels (take the high road or the long one), a bit like Golden Axe.  The cut scenes are extremely impressive and link the action well.  Rash and his enemies all look fantastic.  He can smash robots and birds to then use their respective poles and beaks (yes, a bird beak) as melee weapons.


I've told you twice already, you ain't gettin my Kia-Ora!
I’ve told you twice already, you ain’t gettin my Kia-Ora!


The sound works well enough but it’s the innovation that really carries this game.  From the moment the first boss appears (when Rash’s jaw drops to the floor) and you see through its eyes whilst controlling Rash, you know Rare are onto something.  The next level has you abseiling down a cliff face swinging like a wrecking ball, with Rash morphing into said ball along with a massive fist and foot.  These additional graphical touches are a joy and ever so rare (ha ha) on the NES.  Later levels see you on a spaceship and also a hoverbike (for want of a better word) chase sequence.


I hope that you get to see all of this because the reality of it is you may not, or not for a while at least. This is because Battletoads is bloody tough.  Even though flies (fuel for our toad friends) appear in abundance, 1-ups do not.  Continues are a life saver but you’ll go straight back to the beginning of a tough level, only to lose all your lives again.


Co-op mode is hella fun but just as infuriating!

Having said that, Battletoads is a work of art.  Just don’t throw it out of the window, as tempting as it is…



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