Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Night Rentals: Battletoads

You aren't worthy to get past the Turbo Tunnel!

Ah, the toads.

Those terrible, trying, aggravating, angering, teeth-gnashing toads.

Do I love'em or hate'em?  Not sure really, but what I can be sure of is that I rented this game so many times I'm surprised I didn't ask for it for Christmas.  Actually, I take that back.  I think by the time my  Christmas rolled around I was through with Battlestoads' and the infamous Turbo Tunnel, remembering that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was better anyway.  I only passed the tunnel once by the way, promptly dying before I could get a chance to really revel in my accomplishment.  I remember quickly dying after so much frustration and so much heartache.  Not to mention I was out of lives and continues.  You can only take so much punishment before your eyes turn elsewhere.  After all, the video store had a wide selection to choose from and the fact that Battletoads was always available should have been a sign it wasn't that good.  Well, it wasn't terrible, was something.

Still, it had some deep beats and toad treats throughout and was worth the rental each time if for nothing else than that pause music.  Until that one final time that is.  Then I was on to greener pastures.  Well, time has passed and it's time to make amends.  So how does that classic rental hold up under my more grown-up eyes?


As far as beat'em ups go, the control of the character was and still feels solid.  The actions you take on the game pad correspond nicely to the attacks on the screen, and you never feel like a hit should have landed but didn't.  No, you can't blame the controls one bit really.  There were other beat'em ups at the time which lack the basic grace that Battletoads seems to afford the player.  You hit the button, your fist hits the bad guy.  Funny how this basic mechanic could get screwed up in other beat'em ups of the day.  Where the control did lack was that you needed to be lightening fast when operating a vehicle.  There was no remorse, no pity, no apology from the walls of the turbo tunnel when I was a kid.  So now that I'm an adult, does that mean not only the fights are easy, but that the tunnel is easy as well?


Yeah--no, it's every bit as frustrating now as it was then.

Gameplay and Graphics


The graphics are surprisingly fantastic and 3D-ish for an NES game.  There's even a bit of parallax scrolling (or as near as you could get on the NES) in the infamous turbo tunnel.  The cartoony animations when your toads are alarmed are as funny as any Tex Avery cartoon, and the goofy way your boots grow big or your head grows ram horns when you attack an enemy make defeating them a real joy.  Color use is clever, and the toads may be a darker green, but they never feel muddy or foul to look at.  It certain has portions where it feels like the good TMNT clone it desperately wants to be. So that said about the graphics, how does the gameplay hold up? 

Still as frustrating as ever as I mentioned before.  Booting your friend across the room may seem hilarious the first dozen or so times, but there comes a point when you realize as a kid that deciding to off your pal meant getting kicked back to the continue screen and loss of progress on the level you were on.  Not to mention the fact that you share continues so once they run out, you are both hosed.  Truly, as a kid I remember being shocked that I couldn't get farther than I was getting.  Level 3? C'mon, I beat Mega Man!  But man oh man Mega Man was a cake walk comparatively speaking.   

But the game turns so brutal in difficulty right after the first level you'd think something had glitched the game and caused it flip to the "hard" setting.  Ha ha!  Jokes on you, it's all hard setting, all the time with this game.  It's every bit as aggravating as you remember.  Maybe more so as an adult because you might have given yourself the false impression that "you were just a kid then" or "I'm such a pro now, I've got this handled."  Hahahahahah. Nope.  I'm sure my brother and I when we tried co-op mode didn't get far on the infamous Tunnel.  Heck!  I think there were times when we had a hard time getting down the shaft after the first boss with out accidentally killing one another. Two player mode was a joke in itself because you could accidentally--or on purpose depending on your mood towards your older brother at the time---beat the snot out of each other.  So did getting rid of the second player improve your chances of getting past that stupid tunnel....

Still no.

Music and Sound

Time out again? C'mon man, there's a princess to save!

Every fan of Battletoads--okay, maybe fan is an exaggeration--I should save every person who has had the misfortune to play this game fondly remembers the pause music.  Yeah, I would go so far as to say fondly.  It may not have been the best soundtrack in the world, but something about the heavy bass and deep thumps has deeply ingrained itself into my brain.  Heck, the track isn't even a song; really it's more like one line of sound for the beginning of DJ mix.  But oh what a mix-tape that would be!  The rest of the soundtrack has a decent beat to it as well by the way here's a vid of the entire soundtrack:


The heavy thumping sounds as you beat up enemies are immensely satisfying.  As far as other sounds go, they're okay, nothing especially special that makes the sound feel particularly unique.  When it comes to iconic sounds, the game kinda lacks truth be told.  But those thumps as you hit things?  Yeah, they make up for a lot of lost ground in this department.  The sounds of the TMNT game were okay as you beat enemies to a pulp, but there were times it felt too tinny to me.  I think in a beat'em up genre game you need the those meaty thuds to sell the game a little better.  But that's just me.  Yes, things don't sound that way when you hit them or get beat up by your older brother for having booted him off the screen for the ump-teenth time--but I like it when I feel I'm delivering heavy punishment to enemies.

Overall Impression

I stroke my chin thoughtfully as I close this article.  Contemplating how as an adult I can handle things in a more mature manner than as a kid.  Yes.  Yes.  I'm enlightened, a deeper thinker.  Not given to fits of rage and sorrow when I slam into a wall again.  Truly, I'm sure that this game and all the hardship that it put me through as a kid taught me many a valuable lesson about how to deal with loss and how hard work sometimes doesn't pay off but you need to keep going anyway.

Maybe, just maybe this will be the time that I conquer the Turbo Tunnel.  Perhaps even now as I type, my fingers have found themselves possessed of skill and nimbleness I had not possessed as a child.

Yes, now, now is the time to try and win against that tunnel.


...guess not.

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