Release Date August 20th, 2020
Genre Beat ‘Em Up
Platforms Xbox One/PC
Developer Dlala Studios/Rare
Price $19.99 US
ESRB Rating Everyone 10+
Players 1-3 Players

 

**A copy of this game was provided to FYIG by Xbox for review purposes** 

Microsoft has owned Rare for almost 18 years and during that entire time, one of the big questions on everyone’s mind was, “Are they ever going to make another Battletoads game?”. To be honest, I thought the series was just going to remain in the past. Rare is a shadow of its former self and other developers have gone on to develop new games for some of their classic IPs. Well, we are finally getting a new Battletoads game all these years later courtesy of Dlala Studios. This one is a bit of a different style for the series but it still retains the charm and humor of the original. 

Battletoads 2020 Review
The start-up splash screen.

Let’s get this out of the way: Battletoads 2020 is largely everything that the original is not. This game isn’t going to punish you over and over again unless you up the difficulty to the highest setting. I settled on the middle setting because I’ve never been particularly skilled at beat ’em ups and it gave me a nice challenge without feeling too overwhelming. I’d die here and there but the checkpoints are generous enough that it never feels like you have to replay huge parts of the game each time you die. This isn’t the frustrating experience that made the original one of the most difficult games to get through. 

The art style in Battletoads is incredible to look at. It really feels like you’re living out a Saturday morning cartoon. The vibrant colours and crisp graphics look as good as any animated game I’ve ever seen. The three original Battletoads, (Rash, Zitz, and Pimple), are back and have been trapped in a VR world living like heroes for years. The nice thing here is that these characters are not just aesthetically different, they each have different personalities. Pimple is the muscle but also super-sensitive, Rash is the cool one who’s always wearing sunglasses, and Zitz is the leader and the most logical of the bunch. The goal of the bunch is simple, they just want to be famous again after living that reality in the VR world. The story is full of laughs throughout and I loved the addition of little cutscenes to break up different areas of the game and pull everything together.

Battletoads 2020 Review
An example of the cutscenes.

Combat is pretty basic in Battletoads. There’s a simple melee attack with X, launch enemies into the air with Y, and then A to jump. You can also do special and charged attacks with B to break through an enemy who is holding a shield. You can also quickly dodge away if an enemy is shooting a projectile at you. Each character can shoot gum at enemies to lock them in place for about 5 seconds or use their tongue to pull an enemy close to them. There are a lot of different moves you can do in quick succession that keeps the combat fresh. Each toad plays a little differently with Pimple being the strongest and one the can wipe out enemies the fastest. Zitz is the fastest but his attacks are generally weaker while Rash is the balanced toad. I preferred taking out everyone with Pimple but I used all of the toads. 

My one big gripe about Battletoads is that, while the enemies may look different, there are largely only 4-5 types of enemies in the entire game. There’s the basic melee attacker, the one that blocks, the one that has a ranged attack, and the one that requires you to dodge before it can be attacked. There may be a couple of other types but that’s pretty much it and it does get tiresome to fight those same enemies over and over again with the only challenge being adding more on-screen. It can get pretty hectic out there but enemies tell you when they’re about to attack and the drop flies that you can grab with your tongue to regain some health so it never feels too daunting. 

Battletoads 2020 Review
The speeder level.

There are some boss battles in Battletoads but they’re all generally the same in that you’re fighting off enemies that they summon while you’re dodging their attacks and attacking them. They’re fun but nothing we haven’t seen before. There are, however, a bunch of mini-games that end levels that provide a nice change of pace from the regular gameplay. There’s an ode to the speeder section in the original game, but this one ends up being a lot easier to deal with due it being a third-person perspective and the generous checkpoints. There are also things like Paper, Rock, Scissors, a twin-stick shooter, some platforming, and a few simple puzzles here and there to open some doors. I’m glad these portions were there or I would have been burned out on the game in short-order.

It means a lot to me for a game in 2020 to embrace drop-in, drop-out couch co-op like Battletoads does. I’ve said for years that there just aren’t enough couch co-op games anymore so it was really nice to see that be available here. Make no mistake this game is much more fun with friends than it is alone. There’s even a revival feature to keep your buddies alive if they’re downed. My one issue is that there is ONLY couch co-op. I can’t just jump in a game with somebody random and have fun online if there’s nobody available to play with locally. This feels like a huge oversight, especially when the recently released Streets of Rage 4 did that so well. I’m really hoping for an update in the future that can add that in as I think the game would really benefit from it. 

Battletoads 2020 Review
One of the security door puzzles.

I fully expected this game to be the one that put the nail in the coffin for this franchise, but instead, I feel like it has breathed new life into it. This game was a lot of fun to play, it’s even better with friends, and I’m hoping we see more from this franchise really soon. 

Pros Cons
Beautiful animation No online multiplayer
Varied gameplay Short
Fun story  

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