Happy Tuesday! Last week, we took down the Badds with our bionic arm.
This week, I'm still in a retro mood, so let's talk Battletoads.
Battletoads was published by Tradewest in 1991. More notably, it was developed by Rare, who you all know as the developers of Donkey Kong Country, Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, and, um, Kinect Sports.
You play as "toad with a 'tude" Rash, or, Player two plays as Zitz. They're on a mission to save their pal Pimple and Princess Angelica from the evil Dark Queen.
So, yeah. It's kind of like The Lord of The Rings if you squint.
But you're not playing for the story, especially today. And, to be fair, the story's kind of awesome in that late 80's, early 90's way. The Toads are classic animals with attitude, in the (shameless) mold of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Except the Toads are probably better built.
Battletoads is a classic, side-scrolling beat-em-up, like Final Fight or Double Dragon. As either Rash or Zitz, you travel through a variety of levels and generally kick ass. Mostly, you punch repeatedly with the B button. The Toads finish off most enemies comically, by kicking them with a suddenly enlarged boot or ramming them with horns they don't actually have, cartoon style. Lends a bit of humor to the game.
And you need that humor. Because a lot of you likely know this already...
...but Battletoads is HARD.
Let's start with level 1. Easy enough, but you'll learn quickly that you can actually walk off the fourth wall of any level. Something to keep in mind. You're routinely knocked to the floor by pig enemies, and chances are you missed the secret portal, so you have to go to level 2. Level 2 is a descent by rope down a pit full of crows and weird wall-hanging...things. A little like the Chain-Chomps from Mario. You'll lose a life or two, but you'll probably get through okay.
But then you get to level 3. Turbo Tunnel.
I post pics of Turbo Tunnel because Turbo Tunnel is the worst thing ever made. In the level, you fight a few enemies, including a couple of Space Invaders-type aliens who fly up to the HUD and steal the bars out of your life meter (!). After that, you jump on a hoverbike and ride your way into controller-flinging rage.
The level entails weaving in and out, dodging pink slabs that kill you if you smack into them. To be fair, you do get a second of warning before you see them, until the fifth checkpoint, anyway. There's also jumps, where you have to hit a ramp, and floating ramps that you have to jump to hit. And you'll end up missing at least one jump by flying too far "down," causing you to fall through the fourth wall I mentioned earlier.
I mentioned checkpoints, too. Passing the fifth checkpoint, and crashing through the tenth wall intentionally, warps you to level 5. Take it. Or don't, if you wanna see how good you are.
Now, there's a lot more to Battletoads than Turbo Tunnel, of course. Hell, there's 12 levels in this game. But Turbo Tunnel is the centerpiece of the game. The level that determines whether or not you'll stick with it all the way to the end. Not to mention, I say it's the worst thing in the world, but I mean that in an endearing way. It's brilliant, with the intense music and parallax scrolling, not seen on too many NES titles. Take a look, or relive a nightmare:
And, as it turns out, the whole damn level is like 2 minutes. Trust me, it's one thing watching it, but it's another thing doing it.
That's why Battletoads is the Dark Souls of it's day; it's beyond brutal (as I said, there are 12 levels, and Turbo Tunnel is level 3) but you play it because you crave that challenge. And it's worth trying just to see if you can beat it.
Hit the Comments as always for questions, comments or future Game of The Week suggestions!
Next week, we'll check out another NES game I've wanted to write about for a long time. A personal favorite. With probably the greatest opening cutscene of all time.