Whether you remember or even played the original Battletoads, there’s no denying the one thing that any gamer knows about it, that it was infamous for being obtusely difficult. Pair that with the less-than-accurate controls of the past and you had a rage-inducing time on your hands. Thankfully, the 2020 reboot developed by Dlala Studios is a fun beat’em up that oozes personality and humour.
That is not to say Battletoads 2020 is a walk in the park, though hardcore fans can certainly amp up the difficulty if they need to. It is just that now, everyone can truly enjoy themselves with the adventures of Zitz, Pimple, and Rash without smashing their controllers or television.
From start to end, there are plenty of laughs to be had with the trio. Driven by the desire to be famous once again, our heroes must bash and crash their ways through a variety of foes against backdrops of wonderful animation and art that is reminiscent of a 90s Saturday morning cartoon.
While the action can get a tad repetitive due to limited combos, the main draw is without a doubt the trio themselves, as their unique personalities are captured perfectly and realised in the best way with some stellar voice-acting.
Zitz, the de facto leader of the bunch, does his best to lead with his smarts. Pimple is the muscle, but he is also a sensitive soul while Rash is definitely the closest the game has to a fame-hungry youngin, desperate for his time in the spotlight. Their dialogue and exchanges are often the brightest spots throughout Battletoads, and their chemistry is undeniable.
Supporting the combat amphibians are familiar and new faces alike. There are space aliens, teleporting pigs, and the new villains, Uto and Pia, bring their own special brand of villainy to the series. Matching the Battletoads in terms of their single-mindedness with vanity and treating life like a show, their constant dismissal of our heroes’ threat makes for more entertaining moments.
Of course, it would not be a Battletoads game without some good old fisticuffs. The reboot makes things quite straightforward, with an input for a basic attack, one for launching enemies, another to jump, and a final one for special attacks. You can juggle your foes in the air, unleash special attacks when you land, and dodge an enemy attack in one smooth sequence.
The combat cycle definitely helps with your ability to move at a much higher speed than the past. When all things fail, you can even pull enemies in with the heroes’ tongues. Considering how Zitz, Pimple, and Rash all fight with different attacks and speed, players have a freedom to choose how they want to play and even if you have no partners for couch co-op, Battletoads gives you the option to switch between the trio at will.
The game is not shy at all when it comes to throwing numbers at you from all over the screen. It is up to you to decide how you want to deal with any particular situation – do you take out the weaker enemies first, or focus on shielded enemies? It is likely you will get hurt in most scraps, but enemies do drop flies that can be consumed to restore some health.
The bosses do present a harder challenge, but not by much. They are usually big in size, have longer attack wind-ups, and require players to master the dodging aspect to avoid big damage. It then becomes a war of attrition to see if you survive. There is also a ranking and score aspect to the combat in Battletoads, so the better your combo chains are, the higher rank you will obtain.
Other than the fights, the game packs some puzzle minigames into the mix as well. There are hacking puzzles, sledding levels, the return of those notoriously difficult speeder bike sections, and more.
Thankfully, the developers have switched the perspective from side-scrolling to over-the-shoulder, allowing you to actually see what is coming at you next. It is then up to your reflexes and control to successfully navigate your way past the challenges.
Battletoads will probably give you four to five hours of entertainment with wonderful visuals and a rocking soundtrack. The difficulty is more accessible, and the game’s more generous checkpoint system will give everyone a chance to enjoy everything on offer, and if you are a completionist, there are rankings to chase, as well as collectables to hunt down across levels.
It has been decades since the first Battletoads arrived on the scene, for better or for worse. This new reinvention of the older game takes everything good from the original and invigorates it with new additions. The result is a memorable, enjoyable beat’em up that packs witty dialogue, comedic humour, and a satisfying gameplay loop that simply ends too quickly.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Battletoads is back with a bang, and this time, everyone can enjoy it.
Gameplay - 8/10
Story - 7/10
Presentation - 9/10
Value - 8/10