Old-school gamers are likely well aware of this aspect, but Battletoads has officially released on Steam in a reimagined package that brings new graphics, more hardcore arcade-action, and wildly divisive reviews coming from every corner.
Battletoads has never necessarily been a serious title; even back in 1991 on the NES, the title was brutally difficult yet charming with its off-the-wall dialogue and events that take place within the game.
This appears to be a sticking point; some feel that it should take itself more seriously, frustrated with the sudden shifts in level design and adventure that come as part of the package: Polygon stated it was an ‘over-complicated, obnoxious sequel’ while others have called it a ‘rambunctious puppy with value’ as it throws players all over the place in a bizarre plotline that is accompanied by even stranger dialogue.
As a whole, however, it’s followable; a noticeable feat compared to the plot lines and esoteric lore of Dark Souls and Bloodborne.
The Battletoads are back, and we've rolled out the cartoon carpet! Get the lowdown on @dlalastudios' multi-genre return of the mighty morphin' amphibians in this special interview with Xbox's @majornelson, and then get ready to PUNCH! YOU HAVE BATTLETOADS! pic.twitter.com/T1eH6Zvy0L
— Rare Ltd. (@RareLtd) August 20, 2020
The consistent shifting in gameplay, however, irks some: one level you’re progressing through a side-scrolling beat-em-up, juggling enemies and beating them senseless while they’re on the ground. The next moment, you’re zipping through sewers in a throwback to one of the most difficult levels that has marked childhood for many, zipping around obstacles in a speedy test of reflex and memory.
It’s entirely beatable, although the replay value may be lacking for some; it’s difficult but far easier than the original Battletoads. A bit of tedium can set in: it’s a 2D sidescrolling beat-em-up, after all, and there’s only so many specific ways that you can beat people and strange bosses until it starts to wear.
Each toad has their own unique combos and animations, but they’re all more or less interchangeable in combat with little difference in how you progress.
A strange option, that still has many confused, is the decision to opt-out of online play; you can only play the multiplayer aspect of Battletoads if you have friends that are sitting next to you. Considering that many friends that played the original are now likely scattered about the country, it makes it difficult to relive the glory days of the original.
That is the crux of this title, and why it’s so divisive: if you eliminate the aspect of nostalgia, where playing Battletoads was a rite of passage with its obscene difficulty curves, the modern title simply doesn’t offer enough for new fans of the franchise.
Everyone grew up; Battletoads never did, unfortunately. Hopefully, Rare gives this another swing in the form of a sequel, and give it the proper glow-up it deserves, but nothing has yet been announced.