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: Battletoads (NES)

Flashback time! It was 1992 and I was 10. Everyone was talking about this game "Battletoads" as being one of the best games they had ever played. I was so excited when I had the chance to go to the video store and hire it that weekend. I put the cartridge in, and what seemed to be a great looking game slowly, without me even realising, turned me into a short tempted gamer (well that's my excuse anyway).

Rareware up to this point wasn't my fav gaming company. Most of their stuff up 'til the mid 90s was nearly impossible to finish. Wizards and Warriors 3, was do-able, but only after a year or so of knowing it from front to back. Ever since the Donkey Kong Country series came out, Rare have shown how enjoyable games can have their frustrating points, but still be doable to make the game player feel they did well; Rare is the only developer I can think of that has mastered it. Having said that, it took them years, and Battletoads is one of those games that is built to piss you off and to make you scream obscenities. If you've played it, you can understand why I'm swearing my head off. So much so that I've started a swear counter as I play this game.

Funky title screen for a Nes game

 You're going to wish you just stayed in the ship.

I bet a lot of people are wondering how I can put this "great game" in retro tears. One reason and one reason only; it's just too damn hard, even for the hardcore players. Still makes me wonder why I love this game considering it was a pain in the ass and wasn't enjoyable as it could of been had they made the levels more like the first couple through out the game.

I'm still trying to work out what this dude does; all I ever see is static on the screen and him moving his hand... does he even get up to use the toliet? He is probbly cybering that evil chick... while the toads are doing the hard work, who knows!

Ok I realise why it's not a kids game now - lock them tissue boxes up.

One review back in the day got my attention. Nintendo Magazine System, which was an Aussie official Nintendo magazine. It did a good job of ripping off the articles from the UK version and making it look like they actually put some effort into it. Anyway, that's another story. The magazine did a review of Battletoads and I think the reviewer summed it up in his first line:

"This one's a toughie! You may not have realised the full extent of pain until you've done ten rounds with Battletoads. Most of the levels, apart from those at the very beginning are really tough and need a lot of practice."

First Issue of NMS : April '93 which has a review of Battletoads. This is what I thought of it.

The reviewers also picked up on something else. This is very much like Rare's answer to Ninja Turtles which I never really thought about at the time. They certainly kicked Komani's ass in game making, even in the way it was "cruel" in terms of difficulty. Rare has upped the difficulty 10 fold. This game almost feels like it's taking the piss of you the whole time. It sometimes feels like the game is saying "You still on level 3? You're not meant to win!".

Even though it's tough and drives you up the wall, it's a great game in the way that it's different and involves a lot of different styles of game play. However, even the little things were made to make your life hell. The two player mode was a nice touch, and you would think that the game would be much easier if two people were playing. Well, that is completely not true! Sure,  bashing the shit out of things was easier but when you go to the bike sections and river sections, you both have to be perfect! Otherwise you both have to start over again. The odds of both of you passing the bikes and flying sections at the same time is almost impossible - so good luck with that.

For me as a kid, I could only make it up to the bikes in level 3. The damn ramps kept stuffing me up. There is me thinking that I was the only one that had this problem. It seems A LOT of people had the same problem and today is the first day I have actually got past that damm level. But as I've since found out, that is nothing in relation with what is in store. So I whacked in a game genie and put in "unlimited lives". Should be easy now right?

I read somewhere that one guy beat this game on just 1 life. That guy must be a god. I have lost count of the amount of times I have died in this game. So I decided to document my playing experience. Normally, we wouldn't bother doing a full walk through, but it will explain the pain is justified. Before I start, lets look at the game plan.


So, here we go; jump off a ship that looks like that wierdo on the computer, then through an impact crater then down a chasm. How hard can that be?

Now through some ice cavern, then down the water rapid then up to a snake pit? couldn't they think of a better way then go through a snake pit?

Ok, now through a firezone, up a shaft then through a duct; what next!

Now, on a wierd looking machine then then up another shaft! To the final battle.

Level 1: Ragnarok's Canyon

This level is pretty nice and easy, until you get to the flying pig which can be a pain in the ass if you're not in the mood. There is a way to ride them, but it only seems to work 10% of the time for me. There is an easy 1up to collect and pretty easy boss battle. Another thing; I was thinking, has there been another game, that you actually look in the perspective of the enemy while fighting it?

Sticks makes life easier.

Pretty cool idea to be killing a boss, through the eyes of a machine. Pity it's rather easy though.

Lifes Lost: 0
Swear Words spoken: None

Level 2: Wookie Hole (Impact Crater)

When you first play this game, you just expect more of the same. But straight away the game shows you that it's a lot different from now on in. This level is fairly easy - once you get used to it. You have to avoid the damn crows, or what ever the hell they are.

Wonder if he got that sword out of a show bag? Watch out for the crows they can cut your cord.

I cant belive I missed this, when I first played this. Booby to beat a booby? All I see is hers right now.

Lifes Lost: 0
Swear Words spoken: None

Level 3: Turbo Tunnel

As I said before, this was as far as I got as a kid. I hate the bikes with a passion. The rest is fairly easy apart from them damn jumps, and dodging misplaced pieces of concrete. When I passed this for the first time, I felt I got revenge on this game. Like "hahahah! maybe 15 years later but I beat you. Later I realised I should have left it this way. There is no way in hell I could have done this 15 years ago. This just gets crazy hard, way too quickly.

Wondered if space invaders would ever make it into another game. Never knew they could access the internal health bar!

Please make it stop. I just couldn't get this right at the kid, and yet I still can't really get it first time perfect.

Lifes Lost: 26
Swear Words spoken: 17

Level 4: Arctic Caverns

You start this level thanking yourself lucky that you're over the bikes and back to just normal Double Dragon type gameplay, right? Wrong! This level should make you realise it's going to get ALOT worse from here on out. Everything in this level is designed and timed perfectly to kill you, if you haven't already done the level and know what's ahead. This also made me wonder if any game has ever had a fun ice level? Even Mario games are frustrating on them ice worlds.

 Frosty the snow man!

This got me wondering. I did a bit of research, it turns out toads can't actually walk on ice, as they have senitive feet. Well these must be super toads because they are holding a ice cube while walking on ice!

You can so see me dying in a matter of seconds.

Yep, no matter how you time this, if you dont instantly react, it's perfectly timed to kill you.

This game is seriously evil. I can't describe the amount of pain I have endured doing this level for the first time. It's interesting to see the amount of "ideas" that made it into other Rare games; like the large spike things can be seen in Donkey Kong Country 3 in the water levels. What gets me in this level is the way that enemies and objects can appear from where you have already been and kill you unsuspectingly. Or you can find objects like snow balls coming at you, and you have no idea were it came from as seen below.

Ok, the snow ball is coming from the right direction, so you would think there is a snowman to my right?

Nope! Nothing, so were did that bloody snowball come from? This game is downright bullshit!

Yeah if you get this 1up, you will most likley die, unless your a god. Another example on how this game taunts you as it goes.

You know at this point your %$^&#!!

This level kind of feels, that the designers didn't quite know what to do with it, as you can find stuff that comes from others games, like seen below.

Either looks this from Super Mario Brothers or looks like an walking un-opened condom with spikes!

Yep, I was right.

This felt very similar? Now where have I seen this before?

Oh, yeah, another Super Mario idea!

Lifes Lost: 59
Swear Words used: 28

Level 5: Surf City

Now you start this level thinking "awesome! I hope this is fun". It is.. but it's a painful stride of hoping you remember the sequence of whirlpools, logs and other shit that is waiting to kill you.

"Least it's not a bike - no way there can be jumps in a river stage surely?"

This actually isn't too bad, wonder how they are going to suck the fun right out out this level.

Now in this level is your first main mini boss battle, which is one of the princess' (or what ever the hell she is) goons. You would think this would be one of the hardest bits of the level. The boss does this jump around and "stun" you kinda thing. Something out of Super Mario Brother's 3. I think Mario's boss battles were harder then this.

After getting over "it's wearing a nothing left to the imagination swimsuit", you can kick it's ass.

This is disappointingly easy - I wish they made the game easier and the bosses harder.

You think to yourself "yay this level is over". No, it's just the middle. You have yet more river to surf through. Yet again its down to a bit of luck and remembering patterns. Fun stuff.

Couldn't they of got a bigger board?

Oh you got to be kidding me! This is bullshit!

Lifes Lost: 23
Swear Words used: 20 (Mainly when I saw the jumps)

Level 6: Karanth's Lair

Holly crap! You have not experienced "bullshit" until you have played this level. This level proves that no matter what skills you have, you still need to know the patterns of the snakes and know exactly when you should jump. Trial and error is needed, or better yet, just give up now. 

Spikes are everywhere and the best part of it is that you don't have a clue what the pattern is until you die about 10 times.

I'm so @$#%ed now.

Lifes Lost: 68
Swear Words used: 32

Level 7: Volkmire's Inferno

Now, this level is just like level 3. Kill a bunch of them wierd things, kill the space invader energy stealing looking things and ride some sort of thing. Now the question on your mind is "surly this is harder?". The answer should be clear already, it's easy until you reach the next flying / driving section.

Oh look its frogger! let's hope that's not really a croc.

Oh no, it's level 3 all over again, just 10x worse. Then again you would surprised if it wasn't.

Flying is in many parts on this level. This includes fireballs, bars of fire, massive missiles and even more shit to kill you. I'm hoping there's no more flying or bike levels after this! How many levels can there be that require planes or weird bikes? 

Ok, fireballs suck. Here is a easy way to get around em. Just stick to the top most of the screen and sort of move down and up at random times, and you will just fly through this bit.

Here is a tip, move to the left most bottom of the screen (they can't hurt you when they launch even if it looks like it.). Just watch they don't drop down on you, but its rare they do, just move a bit to the right and back again when you can.


"Yay it's over!". I love when I hear the end of the level music.

Either can I! That's while I'm using a Game Genie too.

Lifes Lost: 48
Swear Words used: 31

Level 8: Intruder Excluder

Ok, I've basically had it with this game, but for the sake of this Retro Tears, I will endure this torture and continue the review. This level is heading upwards. The way the game either lets you respawn or restart seems totally random from level to level. In this level if you die, you restart from the start point which to me doesn't make any sense. But I think it's done this way to piss you off even further. If anyone else has gotten this far, they will know that the checkpoints seem to be further and further apart, so be ready to do most of the level, over and over again. I stress "try to fight the urge to press the power off and throw the cartridge over a large water tower". Because believe me, I've wanted to do that for years!

Yay, this should be easy?

Nope. This thing killed me the same time, at least 10 times in a row. I always seem to have 1 life power left and it always zaps me no matter how I time it, it seems.

The boss at the top of this level looked like it had escaped from a bad casting of Robocop. This one is yet again fairly basic to kill. If you can get over the overall bullshit hard parts of this level, you can be happy in knowing there are only four more after this. Question is... do you want to go on? I know I don't.

Lifes Lost: 102
Swear Words used: 57

Level 9: Terra Tubes

Coming soon ...

Lifes Lost:
Swear Words used:

Level 10: Rat Race

This level is fast paced and has an awesome soundtrack, which is what I'm currently using as my ring tone - it's really that good! In this one you have to out run this rat dow what looks like level 8, just going with a different colour palette. So you have to beat this rat down to the bombs and kick it (as you do). The first two races, are doable, but the third is really, really hard. You have to move straight away, even before you hear him coming and get basically all the drops 100% perfect so as to even have a chance to get down there - even then by that time you forget what side the bomb is on, so good luck or buy a ready replacement controller when you throw it up against the brick wall.

After this you get to face with the other goon of the evil chick's clan. This is an utter joke when you think how bloody hard the last bit just was. All he (it) does is just move from one end to the other and just jump (stun). I said it before and I'll say it again; Mario 3 bosses were harder then this.

Lifes Lost: 63
Swear Words used: 34

Level 11: Clinger Wingers

OMG, WHY! Why make this so bloody hard. I have been on this peice of shit level for 2 hours now and still cant really work out what I'm doing. I just looked at a speed run on Youtube, and I cant work how he actually beats it.

Level 12: The Revolution

This level is a going up, "jump on ledges and hope for the best" kinda thing. This level is annoying but it's nowhere near as frustrating as the rat race or the last level.

Then you finally battle with the "boob" lady. Now this is a real boss battle, this is nearly as frustrating as one of the levels, if not worse. She jumps around like a woman that's had too much red bull and shoots this crap at you.

The ending

OMG, you have to be shitting me. THAT'S IT? This is even more of a joke then the whole Ninja Turtles ending. So basically you just get more of the same dialogue and the same start like screen and a "for now" like ending.

Battletoads for the Nes : $20
Booze to get over how hard it is : $15
Having an ultra hard game with basically, no real ending at all : Priceless.

So that's the end of this retro tears review. In what is most likely the longest post this site has ever seen and will ever see! Having done the Nes version, there is a Mega Drive version of this game, that has been "dumbed" down and made overly colourfully. Usually I'd be jumping up and down about that fact, but it just doesn't feel the same as the Nes version and somehow feels broken, while there is nothing really wrong with it if you understand me.

The Nes version of the game has caused me pain for as long as I can remember. But it's so polished and full of fun sections, that are some what tainted by the difficulty. The music is nothing short of fantastic and the ideas were very fresh for it's time and unheard of on a NES game. I love this game, but at the same time I hate it.

Ranted by Doug

Since 2007 Donkeygamer.com