Battletoads Review – Xbox One X

It’s been 26 long years since we last saw Rash, Pimple and Zitz smashing and bashing their enemies on the way to whooping the Dark Queen. I remember the last level and playing it with my friends on the NES… it was dark… full of floating enemies, spring jumps… and yelling… so much yelling… and crying. The yelling and crying obviously was coming from me or my buddies out of pure frustration but somehow I still hold those memories and this series near and dear to my heart.

Here we are in 2020.. partially locked down due to Covid and I’m toadally (<— ehh?!?) jacked up that these characters have been brought back for a whole new generation. Set 26 years after we last saw the titular Battletoads, we find them battling their way through enemies in the typical tutorial levels. Once that’s done, we find out that they’ve been locked away for this whole time and are re-emerging to a new world that has no idea who they are/were.

Each toad has their own set of skills, taunts, moves and distinct feel. Rash plays like the most well rounded toad who has the perfect balance between speed and strength. Pimple is the much slower tank Battletoad. His moves are devastating and take a shade longer to pull off but hitting that combo just right feels as natural as the others. Zitz, is the team leader and he’s the speed guy. His rapid hit combos are frantic and crushing. Being able to swap the guys out at will is great because I found that each one was better suited for different parts of the game.

The art direction that Dlala Studios opted to take received a fair amount of flak when it was first announced but that flak is/was completely unfounded. Why the discourse? I have no idea because honestly this game looks outstanding. The art and animation style, especially the wonderful cut scenes between levels makes you feel as if you’re playing and watching a Saturday morning cartoon in similar style to modern day classics like Teen Titans. The characters are wonderful and the voice acting is equally as enjoyable which, I think, was made much easier to pull it all together by the surprisingly funny writing.

Battletoads is included on day 1 via Xbox Game Pass and supports local 3 player co-op.  Currently there is no online which I find a bit perplexing but maybe it’s coming soon in a future update. I only managed to have a small amount of time playing couch co-op because my Player 2 was always too busy to play with Dad but the time we did share together was great and I’m hopeful we can play more together. The beat-em-up gameplay is fast, furious and just all around awesome. Stringing together combos, dropping in the on the fly swapping of characters all just feels like a top notch gaming experience. Peppered throughout the game is a series of  different mini-games which I found to be a welcome commercial break, if you will, in the constant button smashing combat.

With the over the top button mashing combat, the enjoyable breaks with the mini games, the wonderful writing and animated sequences kept me glued to my seat. I appreciated that they had different difficulty settings for the more seasoned players who like wanting to smash their controllers into their own faces with the Battletoad difficulty to the people who are a bit younger or less interested in such self punishment with the tadpole difficulty. Myself, I opted for the more normal setting of Toad. The game took me about 4.5-5hrs to get through and I easily would have played another 4 or 5 just to get more of the combat and story sequences. Given the fact that Battletoads is on Gamepass there’s really no reason to miss this one but even if you don’t have Gamepass, it’s still worth the pick-up.

Battletoads is available on Xbox Gamepass Thursday, August 20, 2020.

– Writing, acting, animation is top notch
– Combat is fast and incredibly fun
– 3 player couch co-op
– Multiple difficulty settings make the game more accessible to gamers of all stripes

– Length felt a bit short after the opening Act
– Feels like something is missing once complete. Maybe some new modes would be nice.
– No online co-op feels like a missed opportunity

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