Battletoads Xbox One X Review

Battletoads is a surprisingly amusing and lighthearted title with a charming story and fun combat and serves as a great new start for the franchise

By Grayshadow, Posted 21 Aug 2020

Battletoads has a notorious reputation among older gamers as both an incredibly challenging yet insanely wacky series. The franchise was one of Rare's smash hits but has been on a multi-decade hiatus and limited to cameo appearances until now. With Dlala Studios reviving the dormant franchise with a brand new entry that remains loyal to the original beat 'em up formula but with cartoonish hand-drawn visuals. Battletoads is a surprisingly amusing and lighthearted title with a charming story and fun combat and serves as a great new start for the franchise. If only it didn't release it with a major technical issue.

Battletoads,NoobFeed,Microsoft,

The story of Battletoads is surprisingly the best part of the game. Taking a more cartoonish approach Rash, Zitz, and Pimple have been trapped in a virtual simulator for 26 years. All of that comes crashing down when they're unexpectedly saved from the simulator and the Toads take on real-world jobs but Rash wants to return to the glory. Deciding its time to take down a famous target to reclaim their reputation by locating the Dark Queen and finding out that the galaxy actually does need their help.

Each of the Toads has distinct personalities that are made immediately apparent. Rash is hungry for fame but is slowest of his friends or brothers it's never confirmed but often brought up as a running joke. Pimple is the strongest but also the smartest and most logical. Finally, we have Zitz who is the self-declared leader who often lets his ego get the better of him. The 3 friends dynamic is wonderful and they play off one another extremely well thanks to great writing, voice-acting, and animation.

The writing is very good and never takes itself seriously whether it's deciding to kill hundreds of civilians for littering or the Toads addressing plot issues. It's all in good fun and it's never overplayed, with the game's central objective always being present. The character's models could've benefited from more ideal animations during in-game cutscenes instead of just standing. Sometimes they'll perform a Looney Tunes pose but when speaking they'll just stand there, awkwardly.

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Players can choose from the iconic cast of Rash, Zitz, and Pimple. Each character has a unique move set and distinct animations to complement their moveset. For example, Pimple is a heavy hitter but lacks the mobility of his Zitz or Rash. Rash is the most balanced fighter and Ztiz exchanges strength for speed. You can switch between any of the Toads with each character having their own health bar on single-player. 

The combat system is simple but works. You use the X button to perform a basic combo but can incorporate a heavy finisher during the combo or finish it. Y allows you to launch enemies in the air, great for aerial attacks or crowd control, and can be used to execute a heavy attack mid-combo. You have to execute a heavy hit to finish off enemies though and you're rewarded for avoiding damage and keeping combos alive. Which resets if damage is taken or the combo timer runs out. The score doesn't do anything, there's no upgrades or things to buy, even the collectables are just for obtaining a higher rank.

Each of the Toads can use their long tongues for both combat and platforming. For combat purposes, you can pull enemies towards you or pull yourself towards the enemy. You can also spit bubblegum to temporarily disable enemies but this is limited. For platforming, you can use the tongue to hop into the background or consume flies for health.

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Enemy encounters become increasingly more hectic as the game progresses. With large enemy varieties that each have distinct attacking patterns and weaknesses that telegraph when they're about to attack. Sometimes they'll guard requiring you to perform a charged block breaker, dodge your tongues, or support one another with healing. If you happen to die a respawn timer is provided before the avatar is revived with half health. If everyone dies then you reset before the last encounter, making the game much more forgiving than the original titles.

Inbetween fights within levels there are small mini-games that break up the action. These minor puzzles include hacking by moving an icon through obstacles or a switch puzzle. It's nothing major and the hacking game does have an automatic option if players get stuck. I didn't find one for the switch puzzles but they're simple enough that players shouldn't have much of an issue.

More variety comes in the different minigames between levels. This includes things such as sledding, a twin-stick space shooter, and the iconic speed bikes have returned. Unlike the original NES title where the speed bike stage remains one of the most infamous levels in gaming, the new back perspective makes viewing upcoming obstacles much easier. This doesn't make the level easier as the stages require a great degree of precision to navigate and 1 hit kills the player. Checkpoints are disturbed fairly so if you do die completely you'll reset are a decent point but there's no revive timer like in active combat.

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You're rated based on your performance for each stage. Things such as difficulty, collectibles, combos performed, and completion speed determines your overall score. Sometimes optional objectives are provided such as finishing a stage with a specific rank or within a time limit.

There are some dedicated platforming stages that test your platforming and jumping skills. Some of these are challenging as you attempt to make perfect jumps and avoid obstacles. The most vexing of these are in Act 3 where the player must navigate the most mediocre platforming and puzzle tests. Here you have to push boxes and navigate switches, slowing down the game's pace dramatically.

In an extremely dumbfounded move, there's no online cooperative play! A cooperative beat-em-up without online play, who thought that was a good idea!? The same issue was present in Ubisoft's Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game and it puzzles me that game's built for cooperative action does not have online play.

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Battletoads also has a major technical issue that completely destroys the entire experience. The voices during cutscenes would stop playing randomly or would play at such a low volume they might as well be mute. I decided to download the game on PC and the issue isn't present there.

Battletoads brings the franchise back on a high-note but that audio issue was just too much of a problem. The game's entertaining story, which is the highlight of the entire game, is completely destroyed because of this problem. I have no doubt that it'll be resolved soon but at this moment it's unforgivable that the game released in this state. It's a shame really as Battletoads does showcase promise to allow this series to grow in the modern era.

Adam Siddiqui,
Managing Editor, NoobFeed
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General Information

Battletoads

65/100

Platform(s): Xbox One, PC
Publisher(s): Dlala Studios
Developer(s): Microsoft
Genres: Beat-'Em-Up
Themes: Fighting
Release Date: 2019

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