· 5 mins read

Battletoads review

Battletoads is a game originally developed by Rare for NES. It mixes beat’em’up genre with classic plaforming and various obstacle-dodging runner levels. The game proved to be both fun and a great challenge, hard on an already high difficulty gaming epoch.

Battletoads kind of reminds to the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles but without weapons, on steroids.

There is a remake for Battletoads to be released in 2019, which is good news but it doesn’t seem to have same mechanics and gameplay.


Strong points

As a platformer / runner game:

  • Levels are mixed:
    • Varied difficulty platform jumps, to test your skill.
    • Various high speed runner levels, to test memory+reflexes by dodging fast obstacles. Among those levels there is the infamous Turbo Tunnel, which was a great newbie filter and the first hard level.
    • Two runner-chase levels, where you need more memory and skill to quickly switching direction buttons.
  • Game controls are good, something important to enjoy games in this genre.
  • Soundtrack was short (and repeating) but it’s memorable.
  • There are many levels, game length is fine. There are also warps to bypass some levels if you want to advance quickly (or you’re stuck).

As a beat’em’up:

  • Various finishing moves (kick, punch, goat head?). Animations are neat.

  • Two player game mode.

  • Level boss.

  • A smashing pole-like weapon.

  • There is a lot of enemies and all of them are lethal if taken lightly. There are many mechanical obstacles and traps.

  • Battletoads is imbued on a dark theme that is rare on this genre.



Most flaws are related to difficulty and gameplay:

  • Some levels need more more memorization (by replaying again and again) than skill. Reaching a new level or stop to play game for awhile is punishing.
  • Level order seems not right, Turbo Tunnel and Arctic Cavern levels are slightly harder than other levels like “surf” or “snakes”.
  • There are many troll enemies: some start shooting off-screen, the life stealing “vaders” are hard to hit, ravens are annoying, etc.
  • Two player mode is badly implemented and it makes the game harder: if one toad dies, the other loses too.
  • Enemies can stun you, which sometimes just enlarges the agony.
  • You can enter, by mistake, in some warps.
  • NES graphics aged badly. Genesis are slightly better.
  • You have life energy but there are many things that one-hit you.


Why to play?

If you got some free time and you’re are looking for a fun challenge on a retro videogame, don’t look anymore. But get a good gamepad and prepare yourself to invest some time on this if you’re serious about progressing and, maybe, beating this game.



Turbo Tunnel (part 1):

Full playlist is here.


How to acquire Battletoads?

There is no way to acquire original Battletoads games unless you rely to roms or second hand market.


Version / Platform

The reviewed game is the original NES version for USA/Europe. The NES game was released in Japan but it was greatly nerfed, making it an easier game. The game was also directly ported to Sega Genesis (it’s same game but improved graphics) and Game Gear (it’s tweaked and it seems easier).

There is other version of the game, Battletoads in Battlemaniacs, that was severely tweaked: new levels, gameplay changes, etc. It was released for Super Nintendo (and Master System in Brazil).



A Battletoads 2019 remake is going to be released for Xbox One and PC (Windows). Graphics are notably renewed but also there is a much softer, cartoonish, feel. I could be wrong but it kinda seems to me they want to follow the Cuphead trail just like they did before with TMHT. I totally disagree with that graphic “upgrade” and it’s sad they opted for a childish scenario. I also dislike the Turbo tunnel level gameplay change. So it’s a bad first impression for me. Still, let’s wait to the release.



Games like Battletoads

Other hard NES platformers:

  • The NewZealand Story. Don’t be deceived by it’s looks, it’s a hardcore game too.
  • Ghosts ‘n Goblins. The hardest platformer for NES (be warned!). It was ported from arcade. A true classic.
  • Castlevania. The first game on this saga was a hard and flawed game, but it is a classic too.
  • Bart VS the World. NES cool platformer, it has many levels inspired in real world places (China, Egypt, …) and it’s not an easy game.
  • Super Mario Bros 2, The lost levels. The NES release was Japan only and it’s one of the most difficult games. Don’t confuse it with Super Mario Bros 2 aka SMB2 USA.



Battletoads was a pretty popular game and it’s know for being a very difficult game. It’s cool that Rare finally is going to “revive” it on a remake. The world needs more Battletoads.