Review by Psycho Penguin
"Did you know this game is REALLY hard? It's REALLY good, too!"
I am sure there are a few readers out there reading this that glared over the other Battletoads reviews and found them to be informative but focused too much on one thing: challenge. So, I figure I'll just get it out of my system early and move on with what makes this game so good. Yes, Battletoads is hard. Really freaking hard. There you go, you now know what you are getting yourself into when you play this game.
For instance, the third stage of the game has you take the wheel of a motorbike and make seemingly impossible jump after impossible jump, first from platform to platform, then over and under randomly placed walls. Even figuring out the pattern of these walls and learning the timing won't help you too much, you just need quick reflexes.
That's what I love most about Battletoads, the incredible stage design. Rareware took their time and produced some of the best stage designs I have yet to see in a video game. The first stage is a simple platforming stage that has you beat the crap out of pig-faced goblins and eventually use the wings of one of these fine looking enemies to fly over a platform, which is harder then it looks. Then, you face a walking yellow crack pipe at the end of the stage. At first you use combos, then you go into this weird infrared view and throw things back at him that he decides to shoots at you. What a wonderful idea, and it makes it such a shame that there are few boss fights in the game.
The stages just get better after that, but slowly start to decline after about the fourth or fifth stage, sadly. The stage designs quickly fluctuate in quality: from the amazing first three stages to some lackluster stages in the middle of the game. I really love the second stage, which has you progress down a tree, beating up enemies and making sure your wire doesn't snap, but the sixth stage is the worst stage in the history of video games, the evil snake stage which is not only stupid, but really boring. I hate progressing through this game for that stage alone.
Fortunately, the stages get better late, and the basic gameplay system is awesome. It's a beat em up type game, where you are blessed with some awesome moves, which translate into combinations despite the fact you only need to press one button a few times to finish them off. The combos are funny, from smacking the enemies in the ground to kicking them, to sending them to the moon with a devastating punch. I love the fighting in the game, and adding on the extra stages, like motorbiking, surfing, and other great stuff, is just icing on the cake.
I also love the fact that sometimes when you beat an enemy with a weapon, he'll drop the weapon, then you can pick up the weapon and use it on enemies until you get hit, which at that point you lose the weapon. I felt this was a great idea and worked out really well with the overall feel of the game.
The graphics are also quite innovative. They are crisp and especially well detailed for a middle-of-the era NES game. You will notice right from the start how detailed the backgrounds are, with minor details like rocks falling off mountains and water geysyers shooting off in the background just some of the little things that make the graphics so good. Plus, the game goes fast, and there's very little slowdown, which is something that newer games have problems with, so it's a miracle a game this old and this fast doesn't suffer from the problem.
The characters are also funny as hell and look great. They have the same basic design, but they each have distinguishing features that keeps them apart. The enemies are wonderful, as they are innovative and designed to perfection. Even the little blue squares are better looking than the average looking blue square! Why? Because they have LEGS AND WINGS! Innovation at its finest!
Oh, and stage two might just be the best looking stage in a NES game ever. It's that good.
The music is pretty good as well, as I just got done playing the game and the music is still stuck in my head. The music starts off great, with this type of ass kicking music that fits the stages perfectly, and makes the game seem just as frantic as it actually is. This isn't the type of game that needs orchestral music, and fortunately it just has heavy-metal type clash that really fits the mood of the game. The sound effects are awesome too, especially the sounds of the enemies getting their asses handed to them.
One doesn't play this type of the game for the storyline, which is why I put it down here. The story is good, but won't win any awards. The Dark Queen (who is the main foil in this game) wants to take over the Earth, and it's up to a couple of bad ass toads to stop her. I won't even get into the nintendo logic here that the toads are actually frogs, because you can easily figure out why this game should have been called Battlefrogs.
This game has tons of replay value, no matter how sick you get of the challenge. The challenge actually adds to the replay value, actually, because it'll make you want to come back again and again in an attempt to prove how good of a video game player you actually are. I hated some of the stages (stage 6 is horrible, but I already told you that), but the number of good stages far outweigh the number of bad stages, so the replay value is great.
The game is not all great, however. Yes, some of the stages suck, and the music could have used a little work, but the challenge is a little too great for some people to handle. It's definitely not a game for kids. Also, once you beat the game, you might not ever want to play it again. Otherwise, though, there's not much to complain about, and I was basically grasping for minor bad points here anyways.
Battletoads is the type of game that can be enjoyed by anyone looking for a great challenge and a beat-em-up platformer that are more fun than most of the games on the market. Despite its few flaws, this is one of the best games you can pick up for the NES. I definitely recommend picking this game up, for its unique gameplay and the sheer awesomeness of it.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 05/09/03, Updated 05/09/03
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