After 26 years, the Battletoads have come crashing on to the Xbox One with a vibrant cartoon art style, hilarious story and combat mechanics expanded far beyond the original! Difficulty options make the game accessible, whether you’ve played the 1991 cult classic or not. The multi-genre adventure doesn’t always make sense, and it does have a few issues that stop it feeling truly modern. However, Battletoads has certainly made a fun, rambunctious return. Here’s my Battletoads review.
Toads In a Hole
The Battletoads find themselves being pulled from a hole after 26 long years. They may have been celebrities when they entered, but now they are anything but! They enter the modern world lost, confused and struggling to adapt to monotonous day-jobs.
From there, the story is simple. Through the game’s 4 acts, the Battletoads will make themselves popular once again, by defeating the Dark Queen and becoming heroes! Okay, it isn’t that simple. There are unexpected turns along the way, and it doesn’t always make perfect sense. However, it did make me laugh a lot and I really couldn’t ask for more.
Unlike the original, each of the Toads has it’s own distinct personality. Thanks to the vibrant cartoon visuals and excellent writing, the cutscenes feel like episodes of a great TV show. They are full of hilarious moments and charming characters which will entertain both children and adults.
Despite the excellent comedic writing, the actual story doesn’t hold up quite as well throughout. There were a handful of moments where I was confused why I was suddenly doing something completely different than before. These moments often make for fun gameplay but make the story more complicated than it needs to be.
Battletoads is undoubtedly one of the most varied games I’ve played in a while. It constantly changes genre between stages, ensuring you never know what to expect next. It’s always exciting to see what wacky levels the team at Dlala Studios have come up with.
The core of the game is a Beat ‘Em Up sidescroller, and it’s far expanded beyond that of the original. Each Battletoad has a different playstyle – Zitz is full of quick attacks, whereas Pimple is slower and more powerful. Rash is in between these two, acting as the all-rounder. They have a wealth of moves to master, but all are accessible and easy to learn.
There are creative combos to perform, as well as simpler smash moves if you need to do some big damage. You can use uppercuts to take the fight to the air, but what’s great is how you can stay up there by pulling enemies towards you with your tongue. This is necessary to master Battletoads’ combat, and feels fantastic. Some stages even allow you to swing into the background, giving the fights an exciting new depth.
Having just played the original recently, it’s amazing how much they’ve expanded the combat. Before, it was a fairly dull affair to take you from one car stage to another surfing stage. Now, it is crazy, challenging and almost always entertaining.
Each act has it’s own unique enemies, setting them apart and keeping things fresh. As you progress through an act, the enemies can grow predictable. However, there’s always something fresh around the corner so it’s hard to get bored.
…and So Much More
You can’t get comfortable with these stages though. As I said, there’s always something different waiting around every corner. There are infuriating puzzles, challenging platforming stages and even twin stick shooter sections. You’ll get to ride Turbo Bikes and try your hand at a range of weird mini-games. There’s a lot to love here, and something to challenge everyone.
Series’ Signature Difficulty
Battletoads tries it’s best to maintain the signature difficulty that made the original a cult classic. It’s not as difficult, but I think that comes down to improvements in hardware more than anything. The framerate is higher, controls are more responsive and the art style makes everything much clearer. Inevitably it is easier than the 1991 Battletoads. That shouldn’t discourage fans of the series though – it is still far more difficult than most games today. It is full of infuriating stages that you have to memorise if you want to succeed, which is clearly taking inspiration from the original.
Adjustable means Accessible
If you’ve heard of the original and it’s difficulty, you might feel unsure about picking this up. Fortunately, Dlala Studios have given us difficulty options in this reboot, so it’s accessible for all. Difficulty affects enemy health and damage. This means there are still sections that will be tough regardless of difficulty option. The more arcadey stages, like racing on turbo bikes, aren’t changed and are made to be hard. These are part of the series’ DNA. But difficulty options make the core beat ’em up sections much more accessible and it’s a great addition to modernise the series.
Be careful when choosing difficulty though. Once you’ve started a save and chose a difficulty option, you can’t change it. This was annoying to me because it seems obvious that many people will choose ‘battletoads’ difficulty, the hardest option, and inevitably need to change down. I did, and it was frustrating to have to go through those early stages again. This seems like an annoying oversight, but it’s not one to be ignored. The developers offer these options to modernise the game, but locking you in feels like an outdated decision.
Battletoads is meant to be played with friends. It offers couch co-op drop in/drop out multiplayer. It’s incredibly simple to have someone join or leave you on whatever stage you’re playing. The game takes you back to the last checkpoint, which are so common that you’ll likely only be thirty seconds behind. The couch co-op works brilliantly and it always makes the game more fun. It takes me back to the idyllic times of old when I only played split-screen multiplayer.
But unfortunately, life isn’t always idyllic, and your friends aren’t always able to come round and play games anymore. Online multiplayer is the perfect solution to this problem, but games should ideally offer both. There’s always uproar if Halo or Call of Duty don’t offer split screen. But Battletoads goes to the other extreme – you can’t play online. If you want to play multiplayer, your only option is couch co-op, which is frustrating and incredibly outdated for a modern reboot.
Dlala Studios have done a fantastic job at bringing back the Battletoads. Excellent expanded combat, a huge variety of stages, a great new art style and a hilarious story combine to make this a brilliant game. However, the lack of online multiplayer is a huge oversight which keeps the game stuck in the past. Combine that with the inability to change difficulty and the issues stick out in an otherwise excellent game. For a friendly get together or a family night, Battletoads is perfect. Battletoads‘ gameplay is fantastic, and I’m certainly hoping for a sequel.
Battletoads will be available on 20th August on Xbox One and PC (Windows Store and Steam) for $19.99. It will also be available on Xbox Game Pass for Xbox and PC on launch. If you’ve not already, you can sign up for game pass here.
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I received a review code for this game for free.