Battletoads (NES) Review

By Athanasios 01.06.2021 1

Review for Battletoads on NES

Even before the days of Donkey Kong Country, Rare has been one of Nintendo's most trusted guns-for-hire, and not surprisingly, as the British developer was quite good with taking full advantage of platforms that usually couldn't do much, like the good 'ol humble NES. Were the actual games any fun, though? In all honesty most were simply mediocre, with those few which were better leaning more towards the 'cult' side of the classic scale, with one example being the Wizards & Warriors series. One of the most famous amongst those, was none other than Battletoads. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rip-off that destroyed the will of many a young gamer back in the day... and which still does, almost 30 years after its creation in 1991.

Battletoads begins, and players are introduced to the titular toads, which go by some very… early '90s names: Rash, Zitz, and Pimple. Pimple, along with princess Angelica, decide to go on a leisure trip with Pimple's flying wheels, when suddenly the too-sexy-for-the-NES Dark Queen (imagine a Jessica Rabbit dominatrix) appears with her enormous bra, as well as spaceship, and kidnaps them because… reasons. Yeah, it's stupid, but that's how most games rolled back then, especially those who tried to rip-off the TMNT. Any reason to care for the plot? Not a single one. In other words, press start, and off you go.

So, the quest to save your buddy begins, and the player is in control of one of the leftover toads, with the gameplay being traditional beat 'em up fair. You run around, punching pigs and mechanical enemies, finishing them off with a pleasantly ridiculous move that enlarges your fists or boots, complemented by a nice "oomph" sound that makes you feel the hit. Reaching the end has you facing a big robot that shoots lasers. The surprising bit, however, is that you view everything from the robots perspective - quite cool and unexpected for such a title.

Screenshot for Battletoads on NES

...And here's the thing with Battletoads: it's not what it seems to be. What starts as a simple brawler, and an extremely easy one at that, soon becomes a series of stages, where each one is completely different from the one before it. After the first level, for example, you slowly go down a very deep hole in the ground with a rope, trying to hit various enemies and avoid traps; the next one has you riding a hoverbike, jumping over pits, with walls constantly appearing in front of you; then you get to play a "typical" platformer stage full of spikes; then you... well, you get the idea.

Without any exaggeration, Battletoads is 10% battle, and 90% toad... err, platforming and avoiding of all sorts of hazards. On one hand, the variety on offer is mighty impressive, especially when you realise that all these are stored in a simple NES cartridge. On the other hand, however, jacks of all trades are almost always masters of none. Therefore, everything, from the beat 'em up segments, to the platforming and hoverbike piloting, are nothing special on their own. Which begs the question: why did this became a classic, exactly?

Screenshot for Battletoads on NES

Sure, for an 8-bit title, this is very impressive audio-visually. Rare has done wonders with the limited resources of the NES, creating one of the few games in the platform that pushed the boundaries of what it could do. Was that the reason this became a hit, albeit, not exactly a big one? No. Battletoads is the distilled essence of the phrase 'Nintendo Hard.' Pick any game from the modern era you want: Battletoads is harder. What's that? Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice?! Get this noob-material out of here you filthy casul!!!

On second thought, skip hard. Battletoads is sadistic. Take the third level, for example - the hoverbike stage. Many consider it to be one of the hardest parts in any game. The reality? Most players stop there, and think that this is challenging, when subsequent levels make this look like a walk in the park. One-hit deaths everywhere. (Un)godly timing requirements. Randomised trap placements. Dark Souls can be quite hard at times, but it generally "wants" you to win. Battletoads isn't Dark Souls. Battletoads will brake you.

Screenshot for Battletoads on NES

Long story short, Battletoads isn't a classic in the sense that it's a videogame of high quality. This isn't just famous, but notorious. It simply became known because it is, without any single doubt, one of the ten hardest games ever, no matter the year or platform. This reviewer will go as far to say that it's on the top three hardest games in the NES. Ok, so this isn't a piece of cake - but does it matter? Actually... yes! Sure, this was clearly made for those who want something that will put their skills to the test, but that doesn't automatically make this an enjoyable experience.

Exceptionally challenging titles need excellent controls, and while this isn't broken, it's nowhere near perfection either. Moreover, it just isn't that fun, partly because it's a bundle of a couple of simplistic games, mainly because it goes overboard with trial and error. For some, the immense difficulty alone will be enough. Those lucky masochists can even bring a friend to play along with them! ...that is, if you don't mind making the game even harder... oh, and if you don't mind it glitching out as well, not letting you to reach the end, forcing the second player to commit suicide.

Screenshot for Battletoads on NES

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 5 out of 10


Battletoads isn't really a good game. For starters, it isn't a game; it's an assortment of simple, smaller games, which range from platformers, racers, brawlers, and so on, which all end a few moments after they've already become boring... and trial-and-error-y. Most importantly, this is one of the toughest titles one could ever experience - great for those who find pleasure in pushing themselves to their absolute limits, but the rest will realize that this isn't something special despite its "popularity."









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


The hoverbike section was insane.  Even using an emulator I remember it being hard.  I dont think a single kid in real life at the time ever beat that section

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