Toad-ally awesome!

It has been a long time coming, twenty-six years to be exact. That is almost three decades since the last Battletoads game. Sure, they made an appearance from time to time, but they have not had their own new game longer than the Xbox console has even been around. When Microsoft announced the threesome was returning, I was ecstatic. I grew up breaking NES controllers on that hoverbike level like everyone else. This time around developer Dlala has been given the task to bring Zitz, Pimple, and Rash back to the gaming forefront, and for the most part it is a roaring success.

The task of bringing back the Battletoads could not have been an easy one. The series had a short lifespan that revolved around a simple genre. It was remembered for being egregiously difficult. So, when I jumped into the new game I didn’t know what to expect.

MSRP: $19.99 (Included with Game Pass)
Platforms: XB1 (reviewed), PC
Price I’d Pay: $19.99

What I received was a game that tugged on the nostalgia of the original, while also bringing in high-quality production values and tossed in new mechanics that keep the experience fresh from beginning to end. The plot revolves around the fact that the Battletoads have no idea they are no longer a big deal. It has been 26 years and they feel like they are still heroes in the world’s eyes. This is of course not the case, so after a quick introductory level of action they go on to perform menial tasks and dead-end jobs.

What I love about this game is that it makes you play all these things. They just aren’t cut scenes. Having to send boring emails or perform a massage in a quick mini-game is actually hilarious. In fact, while the game was based on the beat ‘em up genre, only about half the game focuses on this aspect. It is ripe with unique mechanics including a space shooter, quick time mini-games, and even several puzzle platform levels towards the end. While the entire experience is only around 3-4 hours, it never got dull.

The combat sections are of course still here, and Dlala has done a great job of crafting an engine that feels good. Combos are as smooth as they are animated. Each toad has a special combat style, and everything just feels good. There are an array of shared moves, making it easy to switch between them in single player, but the real fun is beating down enemies with three friends. Sadly, the game is only local co-op right now, which is even more evident considering the state of the world.

I really enjoyed the breaks in action. Whether I was playing a round of Toad-Shambo or repairing a spaceship with a series of mini-puzzles, the game always found a way to keep me intrigued. I never knew what the next chapter was going to bring, and that made it interesting.

The performances and animated cut scenes are clearly a labor of love. The humor is genuinely good and the voice acting really brings out the characters. They are loud and eccentric. The toads have more personality than they ever have, and the game is just super entertaining to watch. I actually never wanted to skip a cut scene. This thing could be an animated series and I would certainly watch it. It reminds me of an outlandish comedy such as Ren and Stimpy or Rick and Morty. Just a wonderful job the team has done here to bring back these characters.

Visually the game is a treat for the eyes. The cartoon-inspired visuals really pop on a 4K screen. The animations and special moves fill the screen with delight. While some were turned off by the initial look of the game, it really pops in person. The theme music returns, and the voice acting is very good. Overall, this is one solid game in all facets of production values. Also, don’t be scared of the difficulty. While there is certainly a challenging mode to the game, it does have plenty of accessibility for those not looking for a ridiculous challenge.

Battletoads is a game that shouldn’t work in 2020. The originals were brutal tests of patience and I mean come on, it has been nearly three decades. Who under 30 actually remembers these characters? Still, for someone like me it is a real treat to see Microsoft once again return a former beloved Rare property back to its glory. I like where this is going and if we can bring the rest of the crew back, I will once again relive my youth. Banjo, Conker, and Joanna are next on the docket, let’s hope they see the same love and care as these toads have.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Combat feels good
  • Lots of variety
  • Production values
  • Campaign is definitely short
  • No online co-op
Written by
Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.