In Retrospect: Battletoads

Welcome to In Retrospect, a weekly segment in which I will be jumping into older titles, some that I’ve played before and some that I’ll be experiencing for the first time. But no matter what, it’ll all be a good time, so come have a read!

Credit: Rare

This week, I jumped into the original Battletoads from 1991. I used Rare Replay, a collection of titles from Rare’s past, to play it on the Xbox One. With the new Battletoads releasing in just over a week, I thought now was a great time to jump into the original and see what made it such a classic.

Not Just a Beat ‘Em Up

Battletoads is a side-scroller beat ’em up, and this is exactly what you get in the first level. But it’s actually so much more than that, which you discover in the following stages. There are sections in most levels where you’ll be punching enemies off the screen, and whenever there’s a boss battle it’s classic beat ’em up action. But on top of that, most levels have a section that I’m not quite sure how to describe. It’s still side-scrolling, but with an arcadey twist. Sometimes you’ll be falling down a hole and swinging from side to side avoiding obstacles. In another stage, you have to surf along the screen, with obstacles you have to avoid by moving up and down.

Credit: Rare

Renowned for it’s Difficulty

Battletoads is renowned for it’s difficulty. The first level didn’t exactly explain why. It was just standard side-scrolling punching and kicking, nothing particularly hard about that. Things ramp up on the second level though, which is pictured above. The Battletoad has to rappel down a metre-long hole, fighting crows and sentry robots whilst avoiding electric zaps. This level gave me a real challenge, but it only gets harder from there.

Thank Goodness for Rewind

Level 3 consists mostly of an arcade vehicle section. You are given a car in which you must avoid oncoming obstacles and jump low walls. This level is a pain because everything flies by at breakneck speed. After about 5 game overs (which make you full restart the game) I finally decided to use the Rare Replay’s rewind function, otherwise I would never have been able to make it through. Cheating was the only way to make it past the third level. That just shows how hard this game really is.

Credit: Rare

Towards the end of this stage I entered a level warp which took me to level 5 – another arcade section. This one had me surfing, but it was essentially the same as level 3. Avoiding obstacles by moving up and down or jumping and hitting ramps to propel me along the level. It actually felt a little easier, but I still had to make use of the rewind function every now and then.

Credit: Rare

Changing Things Up

Battletoads doesn’t hesitate to change things up. The next few levels are nothing like what I’ve experienced so far. Level 6 had me riding a moving snake as it moved up the screen. As it twisted and turned I had to jump to avoid obstacles and gaps. Once I made it to the top it made me ride another, faster snake up a different screen, and then the same a third time too. It was hectic, but it was a nice change of pace to the frantic vehicle sections that came before.

Level 7 was back to the standard side-scrolling, but it was nowhere near as easy as the first level. Between fighting enemies there were moving logs to jump on and rockets to jump over. To my surprise there was another vehicle section in this stage. I hopped into a plane and avoided electricity in what I can only describe as flappy bird minus the flapping. And like a million times faster. It was hell basically.

Credit: Rare

Rat Race

After a few more stages I got to level 10: Rat Race. This level has you race a rat 3 times down the stage to a bomb. Disarm all 3 bombs and you win. But for each one you disarm, the rat gets faster. It is insane. I never want to experience it again. Unfortunately, I think I will relive it in my nightmares for the rest of my life. This level almost had me beat. The next one succeeded on that front…

Credit: Rare

The Buzzball

Level 11. Oh my goodness it is impossible. I know in the original release this level had a bug that made 2-player completely stop working which made it a pain. Rare Replay fixes this, not that it affected me either way as I played single-player. But wow this level is hard. You are on a clinger-winger (pictued below) and have to zip around the level as fast as possible to avoid The Buzzball.

Credit: Rare

That blue swirly ball is the Buzzball. It chases you at breakneck speed and I just could not compete. No way. It was so frustrating I just quit. So close to the end too.

Battletoads was a thrill from start to… the Buzzball. But that’s where I decided to leave my time with the game. It felt like a good point to jump out, before I put a hole in my monitor. Maybe one day I’ll go back and try it again, maybe I’ll even make it to the final level. But today is not that day. Battletoads is just as hard as you’ve heard. And that’s the Rare Replay edition with a life-saving rewind function. I don’t even want to imagine the original NES release.

Have you ever played Battletoads? Have you ever beaten it? Let me know in the comments down below or over on my social medias! For all the latest gaming news, stay right here at The Games Freak!

Published by Hayden Hefford

Hi, I'm Hayden! I'm an editor for the site and also a member of the Generation Xbox Podcast! I'm a big fan of RPGs (tabletop and video games!), but I've also got a huge sweet spot for Survival games. Zombie Survival games are a big yes in my book. Oh, and if you still watch The Walking Dead, I'm your guy!

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