By Fred Williams
Developer: Rare, Dlala Studios
Publisher: Xbox Studios, Rare
Reviewed on: Xbox One
Also Available on: PC
Release: August 20, 2020
Available for free on Game Pass
For anyone who has played the original Battle Toads (1991) you’ll recall the anger and hatred that came with dying over and over again because of some ridiculous controls and bonkers enemies. But if you always loved the idea of fighting space toads and wanted) to be able to make progress without being a video game god, then have I got some news for you. The new Battletoads is by no means easy but compared to the first it is an absolute joy to play.
The story in Battletoads is by far its best quality. It follows the titular toads (Rash, Pimple and Zitz) who have discovered that they’ve been trapped in a virtual reality bunker for the past 26 years. Everyone in the world has forgotten them and they are no longer famous. While two of the three toads start acclimatising to their new found anonymity, Rash can’t stand it. So, the trio set off to find a galaxy sized bad guy to beat up so they can reclaim their fame. The writing is fantastic, the personalities of all the characters are hilarious, and the main trio are given surprising depth. I always looked forward to the next cinematic cut-scene just to see what the characters would have to say next.
The graphics are great, each character design shows the personality of the character and the world backgrounds are beautiful. The whole game kind of looks like a cartoon you might watch on a Saturday morning which works in its favour and suits the irreverent humour of the game. I did notice a couple of frame rate drops when surrounded by larger groups of enemies, but it was never enough to bother me.
The biggest let down for the game was the gameplay. Not to say that it was bad, the controls are tight and everything works well, but it is repetitive. The main section of the game is like an old arcade beat em’ up, in the same vein as something like Double Dragon. While it isn’t so much as bad, the stages do go on for quite some time and while there are mini games to break up the gameplay a bit, it always comes back to something with the same types of enemies. The gameplay is a bit difficult on normal (which is what I played it on) but it isn’t unfair, I always felt like deaths were my fault which is a vast improvement on the original.
Battletoads is a fine game. The gameplay is a bit repetitive at times but the story and characters are hilarious and the graphics are great. If you have a need for those old arcade style beat em’ up games that throw waves of enemies at you then you’ll love this. It’s also great for a challenge and while it may make you want to throw your controller at the TV at times, it’s always fair. The story and writing, however, are definitely the best part of the game, if you’re willing to go through some repetitive gameplay.