Developer: Dlala Studios/Rare
Publisher: Xbox Games Studios
Review Context: I never played Battletoads when the games were originally released, but I’ve heard of the legends of how hard the games are. Thanks to Rare Replay, I was able to play the NES game and the arcade game. I also haven’t played Battletoads/Double Dragon but I really want to.
Date of Playthrough: August 2020
One of the biggest controversies is the visual style of the game. The E3 2019 gameplay received mostly negative reactions from fans. I can agree that changing the style from a gritty dark look to something you see on Nickelodeon/Cartoon Network is a big change. In the end, I wasn’t upset with the new look. As stated in my trailer impressions, I wasn’t shocked with Dark Queen’s new design, but I do question her change in personality. My playtime with the game was running at a smooth 60 frames per second with no slowdown, as shown in the first gameplay trailer. Even with a lot of enemies on the screen, I didn’t notice any frame drops, and I’m playing on the original Xbox One.
Since this an arcade beat ‘em up, the controls are basic with punch and jump, but you soon learn there’s more to the gameplay. Over time, you unlock new abilities and it may get complex, but in time, you’ll realize the combat is really deep. First, you learn to mix and mash combos, then perform moves to attack enemies that block your attacks, to unleashing special moves. The saving grace for me is using your tongue to pull the enemies close to you, as well as grabbing objects and flies to replenish your health. Thankfully, the in-game hints give you the information so you can slowly learn multiple abilities. Not to mention mini games that’ll test your muscle memory.
While the visuals got overhauled, the story is more of a reboot telling for the heroes: Zit, Pimple, and Rash. The story takes place after the events of the original NES game with the team in VR remembering the good days. The meta storylines gets it across that this is a reboot hoping to gain a new generation of fans. While Steets of Rage 4 kept with the serious tone with bits of humor, Battletoads did the same, somewhat. The previous games were darker and had some bits of adult humor. This is more family-friendly and not taking itself seriously.
One of the biggest shockers about the game, other than the visuals, is the fact the game is local co-op only. I expected this feature on the Switch, but on Xbox and PC that touts online multiplayer through the roof is a bit baffling.
What makes this beat ‘em up stand out from other games in the genre is the diversity of the levels. One minute it’s the generic level, to a bike level, then a shmups. While the shmups (vertical shooters or bullet hell) levels are short, it made me crave more. Another feature I like is that if you’re playing solo you can switch between characters to link combos and that feeling of you wrecking shop with the enemies never gets old. When you die, you come back as another character until all are gone.
Back when I saw first gameplay of the reboot, I joked about having a Battletoads difficulty level. Indeed, they added that as their hard mode. Speaking of, I played on Toad (Normal) setting and it was still a challenge. I remember how shocked my friends were when I beat the bike level on the NES game in three tries. In the reboot, I can say the difficulty is here, especially on the bike levels. Granted, I died a few times, not because of the level but I was taking the hard routes to get collectables. If you’re able to get over the visuals, I feel the gameplay keeps the Battletoads roots alive with its gameplay for new fans and veterans.
Soundtrack is decent with the main theme getting a nice lift. You even hear the pause music, albeit a short time. The voice acting is done well with a lot of sarcastic banter. The sound effects of the punches and kicks are extremely satisfying.
Similar Games Liked:
Battletoads Arcade (Arcade)