Battletoads







One of the NES' most famous games, for two reasons.  First, it is one of the few NES titles that manages to combine several different gameplay elements into one game, and do it well.  Secondly, and as all reviews of the 'Toads game invariably mention, this game is tough.  Extremely tough.




The first level and its respective boss.  I wouldn't be surprised if it inspired the first Shredder fight in TMNT4: Turtles in Time.



At  its core, Battletoads plays like a side-scrolling brawler, pitting you (and optionally a second player) against the Dark Queen's armies of pigs, rats, dragons, machines, and other such nasties.  However, this element takes a back seat to the fact that the game mainly consists of "obstacle courses" that must be cleared with leaps and careful timing.  Perhaps the most famous of these is the "Speedway" level, where you must pilot a hover-bike through a variety of jumps and walls at high speeds while avoiding crashing.  I say "famous" because this is about as far as many who have played the game have managed to get without cheating.




Zoomin' through a tunnel at 900 MPH dodging walls and jumping pits.



The game features some pretty impressive graphical effects.  Of particular note is the rotating tower in the final level, where the tower appears to actually physically rotate due to clever use of animation and shading.  Also notable in most of the speedway stages is the "parallax" effect, where the background and the area you're interacting with move seperately.  Very well done for a 1991 game.  These screenshots don't do the effects justice.







The above stage is another take on the "speedway" level, but a bit easier.  You ride a surfboard down a river, leaping logs and whirlpools and avoiding explosive mines.  There is a short break from this action in the middle of the level to fight a mini-boss, a fat rat named Big Blag who likes to leap into the air and crush you on the way down.



 
Jumping puzzle, followed by a fight with some rats, followed by dodging some lightning barriers on a flying speedway, all in one level.


 



One of the game's more sadistic levels.  Here you swim (and fly) through spikes, outrun crushing gears, and occasionally face an enemy, nearly all of which in the stage can take you out in a single hit.  Of particular note are the rubber ducks, which look innocent but can bash into you if you get too close to their face, and one hit will be enough to kill you.  Your best bet for these things is to jump over them and punch them from behind.

Not pictured: Rat Race, featuring three races against a brutally fast rat down a large corridor peppered with traps.  Beat him to the bomb at the bottom and you live; lose and you get blown up.


Oh HELL!



Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you what is possibly the most hair-pullingly hard level in any video game, the Clinger Winger.  The premise is simple; you ride on a small wheel, and must outrun a electrical ball that is hot on your heels by pressing the Directional pad in the direction the course's track takes you.  Yes, it's simple, but by no means is it anything resembling easy.  The ball easy outclasses you in speed on the straight-aways; your only saving grace is that you take corners faster than it, and only then if you manage to press and hold the "new" direction as soon as the wheel makes the turn.  The fact that there are easily 60 to 70 turns in the stage only drives home the fact that you'd better have lightning-fast reflexes and not make any mistakes, or you'll be seeing the beginning of the stage very often.







You're not in the clear once you're off the cycle, either - you still have to fight the ball.  It fights a bit like Blag, bounding into the air and landing on you.  Use your headbutts whenever there's an opening, and keep moving while it's bouncing around so it can't land on your head or electrocute you.


   



After a long road, you come to the final stage, the Revolution.  The entire stage takes place on a revolving tower, which you must scale while hopping platforms and fighting enemies.  This level is quite a pain, since it's long and one slip-up can send you back quite some distance, but it's a welcome break after the brutally difficult Rat Race and Clinger Winger stages.  The trick here is to time your jumps carefully, and be sure to land squarely on each platform - the hit detection is a bit touchy if you just hit the edge.

At the top is the Dark Queen, which, considering all the trouble you went through to reach her, is a pretty underwhelming fight.  Well, I won't complain about a break after so many tough stages.







The two player game seems like it would alleviate some of the game's difficulty, but this isn't really the case. If anything, it makes the game harder!   For starters, players are more than capable of harming one another with attacks, which can get hairy in boss fights if you're both charging at the boss and end up headbutting one another instead of him.  Secondly, Rare decided to end the game for both players if one loses all of their lives, which means if you're just about at the end of a stage and your buddy misses a jump, you'll have to repeat the entire stage due to his mistake.  Ouch.

Hints

-The headbutt attacks (press B in mid-dash) are your best means of striking enemies and keeping them at bay to minimize harm to yourself.  Use them often.

-Use the walker legs whenever possible.  The damage they inflict is equivalent to a headbutt, but the range is better.

-Memorize the layout of the "speedway" stages.  It will make things a lot easier.

-Whenever you find an area where you can potentially gather several 1-Ups, be sure to do so.

Probably the best placs for this is Wookie Hole, where you can bounce crows by kicking them or hitting them with a blade, gathering points and 1-UPs for each successful bounce.
 
Another good place is in the Terra Tubes. After the second "gear" section, there are fish situated near a 1-UP - grab the 1-UP, hit the fish for points, then hit some spikes to kill yourself.  If you grab the 1-UP  each time, you should be able to do this indefinitely. Repeat until you gather several extra lives from points, then collect the1-UP and move on.  (Thanks to Mark J. Popp's FAQ for this idea)

-If you pause the game as soon as you hit a corner during the Clinger Winger, you can hold the direction of the turn and unpause to immediately turn in that direction.  This will make the stage significantly easier.  Thanks to Doug Peel's hint sheet for this.

-There is a bug in the Clinger Winger stage that renders the second player unable to move.  If you get there with two players, you must let Player 2 die off, then Player 1 must finish the stage alone to move on.  Player 2 can rejoin at the beginning of the next stage.

Overall Score: 8/10
You'll need a lot of practice to see everything 'Toads has to offer, but it offers a lot in the way of a good game to play.


Back
©2003 Spoony