Review by xenodolf
"There is no reason to go on after completing the first level."
Like most gamers my age, I played the Battletoads game for the NES - and got stuck at those infamous hover-bike levels. There was some good beat 'em up action in that game, with interesting secrets like level warps to mix things up. So when the opportunity came to experience all the comical brawling action in 16-bit SNES glory, I went ahead and purchased Battletoads in Battlemaniacs. So - was it the same bi-polar, love and hate relationship I experienced on the NES, with a modern (at the time) graphical face-life? Read on..
The visuals were solid - featuring large, well-animated sprites and detailed background environments that were often moving around and interacting with the foreground brawling. As in the NES game - the toads had a bunch of moves that transformed their fists into hammers, feet into anvils, and placed giant goat horns on their heads. The first stage is full of moving parts, with volcanoes spewing fiery chunks at your amphibian hero or the grounds shaking and giving away to a deadly pitfall. One of the bonus stages also has a very convincing reflection effect as your character moves across it. I was impressed for the most part, even if I dislike the art style or that they weren't enough enemy designs.
The music was a constant, hard-rocking kind that fit the early 90's "in your face" type of attitude the toads had. Most of the stages featured themes that were actually memorable, although the music would reset itself if you pressed paused. The battle racket wasn't as good - with no enemy death cries and the punching, kicking, etc. noises lacking variety even if those that existed were vicious sounding.
There wasn't any response lag, or slowdown - but I didn't like the placement of the buttons on the SNES controller. What you pressed in most games to attack made the toads jump, and vice-versa. While that may seem insignificant - it matters in the half-second you have to avoid a collapsing part of the level. The hover-bikes, as expected, are once again frustrating but they can be beaten (I've seen the videos on Youtube).
Two of the three toads are playable in this game, with Pimple assigned to the first controller and Rash to the second controller. Pimple is noticeably slower than Rash, and for some reason isn't stronger to even out the difference in speed. So, if you're playing by yourself - make sure to use the second controller unlike you're some kind of masochist. The first level is the only one in the game that plays like a beat 'em up - so imagine my disappointment when I had to struggle through a bunch of mediocre platforming stages without ever getting another chance to brawl. To make matters worse - the beat 'em up action that actually goes on is riddled with cheap deaths, a lack of enemy variety (only pigs and skeletons), and requires you to memorize the stage layout if you want to survive. Nothing annoys me more than pummeling a bunch of cannon fodder to death without taking any damage - then losing several lives to collapsing portions of the level. There was even a time when I was flattened by a pig (which isn't usually lethal), and the game automatically made me scoot around the screen and fall off the edge of a cliff. The boss of the first and only beat 'em up level was surprisingly easy to beat, but also rather boring. Instead of trying to duke it out with you like the basic goons, it basically just bounced across the screen waiting for me to break it apart. So, after finishing this underwhelming side-scrolling fighting stage - rest of the game consists of typical platforming that isn't even fun to play (like Donkey Kong or Super Mario). After suffering through this, it really doesn't surprise me that the Battletoads franchise has been dormant for over a decade.
I've gone back a few times to enjoy the meager about of beat 'em up action the first level offer - but nothing entices me to play any further.
Instead of updating the visuals of the NES game and tweaking the difficulty of the hover-bike stages - Battletoads in Battlemaniacs ditches the majority of the established formula functions as an uninspired platformer for the most part. I'd rather replay the 8-bit game or mess around with the Battletoads and Double Dragon cross-over than invest any more of my time playing this. If you decide to purchase this - most likely out of nostalgia - don't waste more than $3.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 08/08/07
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