25 October 2020
The original Battletoads came out almost 30 years ago in the summer of 1991. It was a product of its era – a fusion of popular cartoons in the 90s, aimed primarily at teenagers and adults, comics about teenage mutant ninja turtles, and hardcore addicting video games. It was a unique action game for its time with platforming elements and a variety of mini-games that a modern audience can hardly imagine.
Did the reboot of the series manage to match the original and strike a good balance between old ideas and modern game design? The answer is simple: no. But this is not the biggest problem of the project. The thing is, the new Battletoads is a very boring game (darn, it’s better to play Casinonic slot machines, than Battletoads 2020). But let’s dive deeper into details.
The beginning of the game
The 2020 Battletoads have a pretty strong start. The battle toads are discovering that they have been trapped in a digital trap for decades. During the time that the heroes spent in the holographic world, the Universe forgot about them, and now they are striving to regain glory. The three toads even have a plan: to fight the Dark Queen again and win. However, there is one more thing: no one remembers the villain either, because she has not been noted for anything villainous over the past 26 years.
The story of the game could have become an excellent basis for many witticisms, self-parodies, and irony, but, unfortunately, it did not. Yes, there are funny episodes in the game, for example, when the toads are forced to do routine daily work. But these moments are “meh” at max and apart from a slight smile, do not cause any reaction from the player. Moreover, most of the local jokes are flat and not funny at all. Authors either slip into a frank kindergarten or fail because of excessive rudeness. There is no golden mean. Because of this, the story itself is quite difficult to perceive, since the so-called “humor” is an integral part of it.
Visual Style of The Battletoads 2020
The visual range does not help either. The original game took inspiration from the brutal aesthetics of the late 1980s and early 1990s, such as the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. The sequel, in turn, is guided by current trends: acidic animated shows from Cartoon Network, such as Mighty Magic Swords and Teen Titans Go! Aimed for the youngest viewers. And no, it’s not bad. This approach has the right to exist. However, the picture, coupled with the story and humor, raises only one question: for whom was this game made at all? There are too many near-foul jokes for the kids. For adults – overkill with blunt humor and a colorful picture. For fans of the series – all of the above, as well as slightly broken gameplay.
Gameplay and Characters
Now let’s talk about the gameplay. Like the original game, Battletoads 2020 is not a purebred beat’em up. It retains platforming elements and various mini-games, including shooter levels with bullet hell elements and hoverbike racing. But let’s talk about everything in order.
Combat is perhaps one of the few, if not the only element of the game that the developers did right. By itself, it is quite simple: only two buttons for punches, instead of blocks we have a dash, as well as the ability to taunt enemies with your tongue and spit gum to immobilize the victim. However, the variety of opponents, each of which needs its approach, and the game situations in which we will fall, greatly affect the feeling of what is happening. In this regard, the game is very far from the mindless clicks of dummies and may well challenge even a hard-core gamer. And that’s cool.
The difference between the heroes adds depth to the combat system. Each toad has its fighting style. So, Pimple is slow but deals more damage. Zitz, on the contrary, is nimble, but hits not so hard. Rush is a cross between his fellows. In this case, it is allowed to switch between heroes at any time. As a result, you can carry out various combo attacks, which not only do a little more damage to enemies but also affect your score at the end of the level.
There is, however, one nuance in this whole barrel of combat honey – such a small spoonful of visual tar. When there are too many opponents, due to the lurid graphics and the abundance of effects, it becomes virtually impossible to understand what is happening and to catch a certain enemy. At such moments, we are no longer talking about any tactics. You are just trying to somehow survive in this swamp of special-effects, hitting everyone who gets under the limb with the simplest techniques.
As for platforming and mini-games, they are needed here only to slightly diversify the walkthrough of the game. The original worked on the same principle. But in the relaunch, the developers went overboard with this additional content. There are a lot of mini-games. But if the same hoverbike race is still fun to play (albeit with a third-person perspective instead of a second), then the various repeating puzzles are not.
So, it turns out that out of the four hours it takes to complete the new Battletoads, about half is spent on mini-games, most of which are downright boring. The plot takes another hour, but it is unlikely to be of interest to people over 14-16 years old. And only a quarter of the entire playing time is devoted to the very beat’em up, which the game is. Yes, the original followed the same formula, but it was more fun and more dynamic.
The cooperative gameplay could fix the situation, but even here the developers did not work out everything. Naturally, bashing enemies with friends is fun. However, in the new Battletoads, there is only a local, “couch” co-op. Therefore, if you don’t have a couple of extra keyboards or gamepads, forget about the opportunity to play the game with your buddies. No online. And this is in 2020, when everyone is asked to keep their distance and, if possible, avoid all kinds of contacts.
All in all, the best thing to say about relaunching Battletoads is that it works. The game has responsive controls. There are no technical problems. You can choose the difficulty level – so that everyone can go through the game from start to finish without getting stuck on some very difficult level, as it was in the original game. But the developers of the new game about the adventures of Rash, Zitz, and Pimple hardly expected that its main advantages would be control and optimization. Hence the question: did Battletoads need such a restart? Maybe. Perhaps the game will find its audience. Perhaps the children will like it. It could be a nice free bonus for Xbox Game Pass subscribers. And, perhaps, in a potential sequel, the creators will take into account all the feedback, and we will get the true heir to the legendary Battletoads game.
Battletoads of 2020 can be played if you are not a fan of the original, love mini-games, have nothing against children’s cartoons, stupid jokes, and acidic pictures. And especially if you have a Game Pass and you get this game for free by subscription. Otherwise, you may be disappointed.
Review based on the PC version of the game.