The original Battletoads for NES was notoriously difficult. Released in 1991, the game didn’t make things easy for gamers, and there are those who to this day – myself among them – have never beaten the game.
Despite this the three titular toads – clear rip-offs of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles but with sophomoric names like Rash, Pimple and Zitz – have retained a cult following over the years, spawning SNES and arcade machine sequels. After 1994, however, nothing much more was done with the Battletoads. That is, until last year.
In 2020 an updated reboot version of the game was released for Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Windows PC. That game is now available through the Xbox Game Pass, where we checked it out recently.
The most notable thing about the game is that it supports up to three-player couch co-op. What this means for those that don’t speak gamer is that, unlike so many modern multiplayer games where you need to connect online to friends who also own the game in order to play together, with Battletoads you and your kids or your friends can sit down together, in the same living room, and play the game on the same screen at the same time.
This alone makes the game notable and worth the time if you want to play with your friends and family. It’s a feature that was once a common aspect of gameplay, and one that needs to make more of a comeback.
But the game isn’t without its problems. While some critics loved the irreverent style, others found the dialogue and gameplay lacking and repetitive. While it’s still plenty tough, the beat ‘em up does lack some of the tough platforming sections of the original. (Which is fine by me, as I notoriously have trouble with platformers.) Fans of the original, or those looking for that challenging platforming gameplay may be disappointed though. But for those simply looking to beat up enemies, the game delivers tight controls and a fun enough experience.
It’s also rated E 10+, for everyone age ten and up, meaning it’s a game you can enjoy with your family. Though, as a beat ‘em up, it does obviously feature some violence and, as a Battletoads game, some crude humor.
One problem I did have with the game was how slowly the toads seemed to move. I never had any problems with controls responding properly in combat, but the toads themselves seemed to sort of slowly plod along during fights (you can run outside of combat) and it can be frustrating to get yourself on the same level as collectibles or foes given the side-scrolling, 2.5D perspective. There also aren’t any on screen tutorials about how to pick up collectibles until after the first two or three have already passed. So, if you haven’t figured out how to use your toad’s tongue before then, or don’t go back and restart the game for another playthrough at a later date, you aren’t going to collect everything there is to collect in the game. If you’re a trophy collector and a completionist this may be a problem for you, though one easily rectified by restarting the game after playing through the first section.
It isn’t without its issues – it’s a Battletoads game after all, it would almost seem out of character if it were too polished – but it’s a fun little reboot. If you have Game Pass, it’s definitely worth giving it a look.
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