XBLA’s Most Wanted: Battletoads

The Battletoads series is one largely unknown to the younger generation. It was one that ultimately didn’t make it past the Super Nintendo era. Some called it a blatant ripoff of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but in reality it was so much more than that. It starred three toads — Rash, Zitz and Pimple — in an intergalactic beat em’ up complete with a sexy villain and a difficulty level that rivaled Super Meat Boy. To top it all off the toads even had a crossover game where they joined forces with Billy and Jimmy Lee, the two iconic characters from the Double Dragon games.

With all of their success and the fact that publishers seem to be digging into past franchises it surprises us that they haven’t tapped into the trio’s charisma and power. While the classic games may not provide a large enough base to make a retail epic we certainly see the potential in an all new Xbox Live Arcade title.

What should change:

A new adventure – Sure, the original Battletoads and its successors were great games, but when it comes down to it there’s an untapped potential in these games that is unseen in XBLA brawlers today. The new title would need to take cues from the older Battletoads games, such as the vertical, rope-based sequences, over-the-top fistfights, and speeder sequences. Doing so would bring something to the brawler that’s not seen on XBLA. But simply re-releasing one of the old titles doesn’t do this great series justice.

2.5D, please – While shiny 3D graphics are important, it doesn’t need to be at the cost of the gameplay formula. The ‘toads series is all about innovative 2D brawling, so it would only be mucked up creating a fully 3D adventure. It needs to stick with the TMNT: Turtles In Time Re-Shelled formula in regards to graphics. Put it all in 3D, but make us feel like we’re playing a 2D game.

Include the classics – If this new adventure included at least two of the three older titles as bonus features it would instantly make the sale. People like value, and putting three games in one title provides it in spades. There might be licensing issues with Battletoads & Double Dragon being included, but the other two should be easy to provide.

What should stay the same:

Big-fisted brawling – While a new Battletoads title would undoubtedly need a more robust brawling system the finishing blow needs to keep that comic flair. In the old games the final blow resulted in the toads’ fist or boot being massively inflated as they knocked an enemy off the screen. It was that unique cartoon humor that kept players going when the game was just too darn tough to want to finish it.

A hot villain – Honestly today we see a hypocritical censoring of things. Game covers might have a female more or less covered up based on where it’s released, but zombies can spurt blood with no real issue. We’re all for equality, but the Dark Queen was a hottie that also sported smarts and spunk. She’s a classic, campy character that fits in with the rest of the cast. Bringing in a new antagonist might upset the delicate balance the games had between characters. If a secondary antagonist needs to be introduced that’s great, but fans expect the queen.

Crazy-hard mode – The old games were hard — ridiculously so. The new game needs that same, albeit optional, difficulty level. The default should match the difficulty of similar brawlers today, but frankly a hardcore mode is what the Battletoads games all share in common.

Why it would succeed:

Battletoads is a franchise that was truly ahead of its time, but was dwarfed by four other green amphibians and their rat leader. Still, the classics hold esteem among true gamers as holy grails of difficulty and excellence. Create a fourth toad for the new game and you’ve got yourself four player cooperative play, filling any multiplayer holes. It could only serve the creators to bring back this beloved franchise for the fans while introducing it to the uninitiated.

About Steve Melton

Steve is an Indiana native with a degree in Computer Information Systems and a background in technical writing. He has also written for the newspapers and other periodicals at the schools he attended. A gamer for over 20 years, Steve finds that Xbox Live Arcade is the perfect fit for most of his gaming needs; classic gameplay at a bargain price.