PUBLISHER: MICROSOFT/RARE | DEVELOPER: DLALA STUDIOS | RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 20TH, 2020
26 years is a long time to wait to reboot a popular gaming franchise. Microsoft knows it, Rare knows it, the Battletoads themselves know it–this game doesn’t deserve to exist.
BUT, against all odds, the Battletoads reboot is in our hands and it is a good time!
The game begins with a very Adult-Swim influenced plot and animation style, and never lets up on the laughs. It is well written, though it’s campy and is constantly meta, spewing jokes like Deadpool if he…was an anthropomorphic amphibian.
Some may also find the writing cringey, but to be honest, kids may really like this iteration of Battletoads, if that influences a purchase. And despite the writing being constantly tongue-in-cheek, the performances are great (one might recognize a few minor character voices from Rick and Morty).
You might notice I talked more than usual about writing and the comedy…that’s because honestly, it’s my favorite part of Battletoads.
Since this is a Rapid Review, I’ve got to be succinct–Battletoads is an enjoyable experience. But not really because of the gameplay.
The problem here is that Rare tried extremely hard to juggle the nostalgia of the original 90’s titles with the variety needed to satisfy the audience they anticipated would play this title.
Beatemups are still a thing, but not nearly what they used to be. I’m not an expert on them (though I loved me some Double Dragon a few years back), but they are typically extremely short, translating to “not worth buying” for most gamers.
Battletoads 2020 extends its gameplay by trying out multiple genres, including shmup, platformer, QTE, and puzzle game across its 5-ish hour playtime.
This is great in theory and occasionally in execution, but the nuance needed to excel in each of those genres is not here. One “runner” style platform section feels ripped straight from Rayman Legends. Two levels are not so subtle nods to Celeste.
But when you’re mimicking (mocking?) the best, you’ve gotta feel like the best, too. The heavy, plodding feel of the characters in the beatemup sections does not translate to precision platforming, but that’s what you’re given. I noticed many moments [outside the beatemup sections] where my inputs either cancelled each other out or were COMPLETELY IGNORED, resulting in failure. This was with a perfect condition 1st party controller that is just a few months old.
The final issue with Battletoads is that it is EXCLUSIVELY couch co-op. I unfortunately have not gotten to try that experience yet, and I’m quite sure it would make some aspects feel a bit better–but pandemic circumstances at the fore front–a lack of online co-op is devastating.
To bring the Battletoads package all together, I have to say the beatemup portions of the game were slightly above average (great animation and environments, but slow attacking with a not-fully-competent dash manuever for dodging), the other gameplay styles were refreshing (but had some control problems), and the story was a fun one that felt exactly like where Battletoads would be in the zeitgeist had they never left us.
score – 75/100
3–AVAILABILITY (OUT OF 5)
2–CONTROLS (OUT OF 5)