All Together Then: Battletoads

Rare's classic Toad licks - written about!!

What with the Quite Good new Battletoads game fresh in all of our minds - and the fact I forgot to do an All Together Then last week (don't tell Jeremy!!), now seemed like an excellent time to take a lot at Rare's most beloved series that doesn't feature monkeys.

I was going to make a hilarious "warts and all" joke about how complete this blog was going to be, but I've decided to exclude the Game Boy versions from the piece. I don't have a very good reason for that. They're not fresh in my mind and I recall them being quite good, so maybe they'll deserve a write-up of their own sometime.

All Together Then!

A toad punching a pig, yesterday.

Battletoads (NES, MD, GG, 1991-1993)

The original, notorious Battletoads is still pretty good stuff, and its reputation is a little exaggerated. I won't try to pretend that the game isn't nightmarishly hard in places, but I'd argue those places don't begin with the Turbo Tunnel; it's eminently beatable once you sink into the rhythm. It's the later stages from Volkmire's Inferno onwards that are the real monsters here, especially the psychotically difficult Clinger Winger. Battletoads' visuals still impress me their use of depth and there's no denying it's a consistently creative experience.

I've always said they were out of their trees, but this is ridiculous! (Slaps knee)

Battletoads in Battlemaniacs (SNES. SMS, 1993-1994)

This SNES follow-up is an odd duck. While it certainly amps up everything from the NES original, it's barely a sequel; more like a greatest hits. Only the first level feels entirely new, the rest of the (short) game is a series of takes on stages from the NES predecessor - you'll descend a large tree, ride the Turbo Tunnel again, clamber over large snakes... stop me if you've heard it before. It's well made and fun, but at half the level count of the original it's a bit of a swizz for Super players.

This sort of thing wouldn't fly in a modern game, that's for sure.

Battletoads vs Double Dragon (NES, SNES, MD, GB, 1993)

I'm wild about this game. Not because it's super great - it isn't - but it's just so weird. I'm sure there's an interesting story in how it came about, but from my playthroughs it seems that Battletoads representation rather dwarfs that of ol' Bimmy and Jimmy. As you make your way through side-scrolling beat-'em-up levels full of ridiculous opposition (and some surprisingly pretty graphics), you'll take in elements of both game series. But, erm, more elements of Battletoads, for whatever reason. At least you get to kick Abobo off a spaceship, causing his obvious death.

Zitz gets eaten by Karnath. Frankly, nothing of value was lost.

Battletoads (Arcade, 1994)

The arcade Battletoads eluded home consoles for many years until it was included as part of Xbox One's tremendous compilation Rare Replay. Duly, everyone responded with incredulity that a game so obnoxiously difficult could ever be considered particularly fun. I, having been playing it on MAME for some years, can but agree. Battletoads arcade is not good, but there's a lot of 90s joy to be wrung out of how needlessly gross and unpleasant it all is. Everyone's turned up to eleven, so rather than have Big Blag announce "I say, Toads, I'm going to give you a jolly good thrashing, what?" it's "I'm gonna shove your friggin' head round so far up your butt that you can watch me force-feed you your own feet!" Sorry, that's disgusting, but it's actually not that much of an exaggeration. My favourite thing about Battletoads arcade are the cutscenes where your toad has to push about sixteen different buttons on his wrist communicator in order to receive a transmission. Absolutely rubbish tech, that.