43: Battletoads

Genre: Platformer

Developer: Rare
Publisher: Tradewest
Year: 1991

Basic Idea: Throw your controller a lot.

Review: I struggled where to rank this game more than any other.  It is widely considered one of the most difficult games of all time and it certainly earns that honor.  It is also one of the most creative games on the NES.  The toads are drawn and move in such a way for humor while still being functional.  The first stage is as great a hook as there is, with your toads bopping and thwomping their way through a very colorful landscape with rockin’ music.   The first level’s boss is fought from the boss’s perspective, as you throw things at the screen to defeat it.  And the difficulty curve to this point is fine.  Then it gets ridiculous.

While the levels are inventive, ranging from racing, surfing, rappelling, and swimming, there is no sense of fairness present throughout.  If the game had unlimited lives, I might be able to tolerate the difficulty.  As it stands, the only way to enjoy this game long-term is to use a game genie or play it on an emulator and save frequently.  I did this, and enjoyed myself immensely, which is why I find it difficult to rank.  If the game were at all fair, it would probably rank in the top 20 if not top 10.


14 thoughts on “43: Battletoads

  1. Yeah, this was the toughest one for me to rank, too. It ended up being #50 on my top 50, and I think I’m going to emulate this bitch soon here so I can see what it’s like to beat the damned thing.

    Where is everyone all of a sudden?! We’re getting to the good stuff here.

    • Sorry, we’ve been on a short run of games I didn’t really play.

      I do remember I played this on an emulator back when I was in college. My NES skills were so terrible I don’t think I made it much farther than the first rapelling stage and I don’t think I ever really made it very far back in the day.

      I think what I’m finding during this list is that I was either generally terrible at video games when I was a kid, or games have gotten much easier these days. (or, they’ve just gotten much easier to get good at, which is what I’m thinking.)

      • games definitely have more fair learning curves these days. The NES could be brutal at times. Now there are so many games and gaming systems that developers can’t afford to alienate games during the first 20 seconds of game play.

      • They’ve definitely gotten easier. I figure difficulty was so high then for a couple of reasons: one, the game is way too short without it. Not a problem anymore, given the number of memory available on a disc. Two, the developers were used to making games for the arcade, which were intended to be too difficult to beat, so players would keep pumping in quarters.

  2. I’m playing it right now. There are twelve levels on this goddamned thing?!

    I’m on level six right now, and I probably used about forty savestates on level three. Five was tough as well, but not like three.

    Without savestates, I’d like to know how many people ever beat this game.

      • …okay, I think I’m liking this game less than I used to. There isn’t a single popcorn area here. It’s just cruelty piled on cruelty.

        • I like challenge. Super Meat Boy is one of my favorites, and I’m pretty sure I’ve racked up somewhere in the 900 death range at this point on that one (could be higher, lives disappear damn quick), but you never get the sense that it’s unfair.

          Battletoads is just a punch in the face after a punch in the face. My brother emulated it a few years ago and tried to beat it. He got to around level 9 or 10 after a few hours and countless deaths before just saying “this game sucks”.

          • The fact that he even bothered to go as far as he did indicates that there’s a lot about the game to like no matter how frustrating it is.

            My ranking for this game I guess would go towards its parts and not its sum. I’ve played a lot of games to the end where I needed save states and this one had me wanting to keep going. Without save states I doubt this makes the top 100 (or at the very bottom), but they exist, so.

          • I’m currently watching a 30 minute speed run on youtube and, ugh, I’m glad I never made it very far in this game (and that’s with the guy warping three times!). When I saw the toad getting chased by a gear, or whatever it was, while swimming, I nearly vomited. Nibs, I think I hate this game, too.

          • It should also be noted that one of the related videos to part 1 of this speed run was the entirety of “3 Ninjas”.

    • Yeah, a friend of mine had this one, too. The first level is so much fun. The second level is a lot of fun, too. Then the third level comes, and it’s all “hahaha, now you die”. Fuck this game.

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