Battletoads (2020) is a loving tribute to the original NES cult classic (1991), a wide variety of mechanics and quirky humour make it one of the most unique titles of 2020.
This could be the future.
Battletoads, builds upon the success of Streets of Rage 4, while both games fall loosely into the fighting genre, their greatest similarity is the art style employed, in a similar way to how Cuphead brought the 1930s cartoon aesthetic alive, Battletoads and Streets of Rage 4 capture the essence of the late 1980s/early 1990s Saturday morning cartoon.
2D games still have a place in modern gaming outside of pixel art/retro games.
This new animated style of 2D art captures the essence of what the future of 2D gaming could look like, freeing up small teams and indie studios to make games that not only look fantastic but are more easily affordable due to lower production costs.
We have already seen three examples of this, in Cuphead, Streets of Rage 4 and Battletoads, all of which launched at $25 or less.
And in the case of Streets of Rage 4 and Battletoads launching day one for both PC and Xbox as part of the Xbox Game Pass.
Why so Serious?
Battletoads doesn’t take itself too seriously and is not afraid to poke fun at itself and the fact it never becomes a huge success like several other 1990s franchises, (Sonic, Mario, etc.).
Several times it is mentioned how our heroes have done nothing for 26 years, (Battletoads Arcade 1994).
Often our heroes question why they are doing what they are doing, or how they are even capable of it, a lot of the humour is cheeky and breaks the 4th wall, which I enjoyed, but I know not everyone will.
One of my favourite scenes is right at the very beginning, where a villain makes an overly descriptive exclamation upon seeing the Battletoads, listing all of their names and what they look like, in a not so subtle reference to exposition scenes commonly found in modern entertainment.
As with all Saturday morning cartoons, expect some gross humour, including but not limited to dirty adult diapers, gas and poop jokes.
I never found such jokes funny even as a child, but your mileage may vary.
Battletoads, is consistantly funny, and while not every joke is a home run, you can’t help but smile at the antics of Rash, Zitz, and Pimple.
What Makes Battletoads, Worth Playing?
Battletoads offers some truly butter-smooth combat, and building combos feels both effortless and thoroughly enjoyable.
Skilled players will be able to perform some absolutely devastating attacks, but even the most novice of players will feel like superheroes when performing a 50-60 chain combo attack.
The boss battles are as frustrating as every boss battle from the 1990s, which is exactly what I was hoping for, those of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s love a good boss battle, and Battletoads does not fail to deliver.
Battletoads, offers a wide array of mini-games to break up the brawls, which are the mainstay of the title, with puzzles, mini-games and the rage-inducing bike levels that are the most frustrating thing I have encountered all year.
That is not to say the bike levels are not incredibly well put together and exceptionally fun as they are, but as a 30+-year-old gamer who has not actively partaken in reflex-based console games since the early 2000s, it was a rude awakening.
Battletoads is a rare breed when it comes to co-op games, often games that are built around playing with others are lacklustre when playing alone.
However, at no time did I feel solo gameplay was lacking and being able to quickly swap to the other members of your team when playing solo felt fantastic and reminded me of cult classic titles such as Aaahh!!! Real Monsters (1995).
I am thoroughly impressed and can’t wait to what goodies Xbox Studios brings us next.
Xbox Game Pass.
BattleToads, is part of Xbox Game Pass, an ever-growing catalogue of over 100 games that is a great way to try a whole smorgasbord of games, including day one access to all Microsoft first party titles, for just a few dollars a month.