Battletoads on Xbox One
Battletoads is hands down, the weirdest beat ’em up game I’ve ever played, as it has you doing so much more than simply fighting enemies and big bosses.
This reboot takes place 26-years after the events of the 1994 version of the game, as the toads find out they were stuck in a simulated bunker all that time. In order to become famous again, Rash, Pimple, and Zitz set out to find and defeat their archnemesis, The Dark Queen.
Their adventure takes them all over space, as they fight a hoard of colorful alien creatures along the way. Like other brawlers, enemies possess varying skill-sets that make you adjust how you play.
Some enemies can block, meaning you need to charge up a smash attack to stun them and do damage. Other opponents can do environmental effect damage, so you’ll need to pay attention to when and where they attack relative to your location on the battlefield.
The further along Battletoads progresses, the more overlap in enemy types you’ll encounter. Facing so many different types at once can be challenging but rewarding.
The action is fast-paced and fluid, so it is important to react accordingly to the surrounding enemies. Even on the easiest difficulty, just about every fight requires precise timing to execute combination moves while evading enemy attacks to clear out stages.
Thankfully, the 2020 installment of Battletoads is nowhere near as brutally difficult as the original. The three difficulties players can pick from at the start of the game break down how much damage they’ll do versus what their enemies will.
The different difficulty levels should provide anyone a fair challenge if they want it. Anyone who is looking for a challenge akin to the first game will certainly have their hands full with the Battletoad difficulty, but they won’t have to worry about it being unbalanced or unfair. It’s just really hard.
Other quality of life improvements are implemented as well – most notably a completely different orientation for speeder bike obstacle sections. The development of the fight animations is the most impressive update in the reboot, though, as the ones on display are Cuphead-level quality of detail and liveliness.
One thing that has certainly not changed, for better or worse, is the series unique brand of humor. While I can’t say that I didn’t laugh here and there at some of the dialogue and gags, most of the jokes are definetly low-brow. If you do enjoy terrible frog puns or toads in diapers, you’re in luck.
Like the 1994 installment, Battletoads also has a lot of interesting gameplay that doesn’t revolve around brawling. In one act, the toads can be doing something as menial as button-prompted office work, where another has them riding speeder bikes while trolls threaten their internet privacy.
While the change in gameplay is honestly refreshing in some instances, there are portions of the game where you haven’t played a beat’em up section in over an hour. These areas feel a bit oversaturated and unnecessary since the best part of the game is the brawling combat.
My biggest complaint with Battletoads is that it doesn’t have online multiplayer. Instead, it only has drop-in couch co-op.
Don’t get me wrong, I love couch co-op more than anyone, and this game does it really well. Being able to cycle through each of the toads with two of your friends is a blast, especially as you’re all experiencing it together in the same room.
In this day and age, though, not being able to hop online and play with friends that aren’t in your living room is a bit of a bummer. The Streets of Rage 4 approach of having all the options on the table would have worked well here.
When all is said and done, I really did enjoy playing Battletoads. The environments are gorgeous, the gameplay is vibrant, and co-op just so much fun to play.
Considering my entire knowledge of the series before this installment was all based around memes, I’d say Battletoads far exceeded expectations. That said, the shortcomings it does possess keep it from joining the ranks of brawlers, like Streets of Rage 4, as a genre-defining title.
None the less, I’d recommend jumping into Battletoads with friends if you have Game Pass, especially since it only requires you to have one copy and three controllers. Even if you don’t, maybe give Gamestop a call and see if they have it in stock.
- Challenging combat
- Different difficulties
- Animations and character designs
- Local Co-op with friends
- Hit or miss low-brow humor
- Oversaturated with non-brawling segments
- No online multiplayer
August 20, 2020
Dlala Studios, Rare
Xbox Game Studios
Xbox One, PC