Friday, 14 August 2015

Battletoads - Arcade, Rare Replay


Or don't and save your cash.


Take the premise of a morning cartoon show. Grab some animals, make them humanoid and muscular, give them attitude and over the top muscle physiques and set them against even bigger and more muscular characters and you've basically gotten every anthropomorphic cartoon you could imagine. Now set it in a video game and you've got Battletoads. Following the lovably named Zitz, Rash and Pimple, the trifecta of getting oneself down to the doctors, we watch as these beefed up toads decide to win a space war against a colourful assortment of characters by punching, kicking, slamming, fly-munching, bulldozing and chainsaw-knee-blading (I wish I was making this up) their way through level after level until the last boss is killed. What probably doesn't help here is that Battletoads became a cartoon show after the first game was made, then the arcade game came later.

Kicked a pig, in the arse.... Wow...

The game switches between styles of play. From the pseudo 3D brawler we expect from games like Final Fight, to a straight up 2D flat affair as if Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat became a platformer with more enemies, rather akin to the Batman Forever game on the SNES and Megadrive. Thankfully there's not nightmare of a level where you're driving constantly to dodge obstacles...

When there's Snow more room in Hell, Bod will play this shit game.

Interestingly, each of the Battletoads has an assortment of situational-dependent attacks. Enemies on both sides? Attack will hit both. Enemy on the ground and weighs a lot? You grow a huge boot and plant it up their backside to launch them into the screen or through the 4th wall. Enemy on the ground? You'll drill/spike/crush them, while charging and attacking will cause your Battletoad to develop a Quarterback Helmet/Bulldozer blades or a big fist to smash the enemies. Leaping and attacking can cause your Battletoad to expose a leg-axe, knee chainsaw or worse. The fighting and action is as cartoony as it is inventive.

Something for the vore fans I guess.

The cohesion between levels jumps back and forth like a cat overdosing on catnip. One moment you're on a battleship punching a bull in the balls (no joke) and the next you're in an ice cave covered with snow while icicles fall upon you, reindeer try to gore you with their antlers and then a giant snake living in a ribcage tries to devour you while it's away from its internet-connection, otherwise I'm at a loss as to how it managed to insult you at the start of the level during the cut scene. Then it's another spaceship with a multi-stage boss, followed by a drop down a long passageway while punching out pigs and spiked-up abominations then finally a palace with a spike pit that looks like the same architects from Double Dragon have been around. The last level changes it up entirely to have the battletoads riding a ship while shooting in 8 directions in a sort of mix between Gradius and that FPS mode in Aliens.

Don't worry, you won't fight her. Not unless you play Battletoads Double Dragon.

Enemies range from rats and bulls to snakes and big, hulked out, larger forms of rats and bulls. The larger enemies tend to take several rounds of beating before being finished in rather "unique" ways (I did mention earlier with the balls...) leading to several comical instances through the game until you realise you'll see it almost EVERY time that you happen upon such an enemy, where upon the novelty quickly wears off, especially when you're punching someone's lights out, stuck in the combat animation while someone else runs up behind you can smacks you over the back of the head with a wrench for 3/4s of your health.

Another poor attempt at humour, punching a giant rat, in the cock.

Musically, I could miss this and not even realise, the problem with the game isn't the music which sounds remarkably suitable for the Megadrive rather than an arcade game. There's a lack of uniqueness in the music but then again it is overruled by the sound effects and biffs pows and slams of melee action and enemies being ball-punched, flattened, slaughtered and annihilated by the sheer fun that is the action. Could have been a lot better in retrospect if there was more focus here.

Another one of those, utterly unfair bullshit modes where you avoid spending more money.

All things being said, this game might as well have a hosepipe planted straight into your pocket and sucking out all of your credits/quarters/coins and what have you. Run out of those it'll happily strip you naked just for a few more moments of gaming with virtually no progression. There's parts of the levels where you'll make good and steady progress and then there's parts that will let you get 1-2 hits in and then kill you almost outright. Health regens are far and few between and regain so very little of the health system back that it's barely worth even trying to eat the flies. It's an unfair game, solely based around completely slaughtering your cash level for a few more minutes and isn't worth the play through just to get to realise you don't fight what is infamously known as the Dark Queen as a final boss, she barely even is seen or mentioned in the game.

Stick to the other games, this one can burn.