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Battletoads – Sega Genesis

Battletoads – Sega Genesis


Platform: Sega Genesis

Developer: Rare

Publisher: Tradewest

Release Date (NA): December 1992

Genre: Beat ’em Up

Nerd Rating: 7 out of 10

Reviewed By ZB



Battletoads…some love it, some hate it. We’ve all been haunted by that ball-busting hoverbike section.

But is it a good game? Well…

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 10.51.27 AM

I love it. Personally, I’d say it’s one of the better side-scrolling beat ‘em ups out there. I’ll tell ya though, there are times when I find my temper-laced grip getting tighter on the controller – especially during that freaking ice level, which thwarts my every effort at making progress. But then I sit back and allow the groovy soundtrack to caress my wearied mind, easing the teeth-gritting tension that is but seconds away from sending me to the nearest dentist.

I can certainly see where people might find the Battletoads to be a failed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ripoff. It was a short-lived series and the allusions to the Turtles are fairly blatant…but really, who cares? As long as the game is fun that’s all that matters. And it is. But admittedly, there are some cons to Battletoads.

To begin, the controls tend to feel a bit like handling raw chicken. Now what in the hell do I mean by that?Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 10.50.11 AM I’m not entirely sure myself, but I kinda like the way it sounds, don’t you?

I mean it’s sticky. It’s loose. And you may want to wash your hands after playing.

While the controls may not be spot on, they’re definitely not the worst. Ever play Beetlejuice for the NES? Well go play that for a few minutes and then come back to Battletoads. Not so bad, is it?

Falling off a platform will at moments inspire you to explore the anatomy of your controller by means of hurtling it against the nearest wall. Your jump is high enough though, so if you face death by gravity it’s really your own fault. Actually, I take that back. In fact, in certain situations you jump too high. Let’s just say, if there are spikes on the ceiling then you’d better learn to control your height real fast!

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 12.48.21 PM

Sometimes you’ll find yourself doing things you don’t mean to do. It’s all a matter of patience and getting to know your Toad – however, in a game like this patience is a virtue hard to come by. Especially when every time you get hit you are paralyzed for a good several seconds.

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 12.32.37 PM

Hey there Rash…you okay? Rash?

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 12.37.07 PM

Oh yeah, dodging in style! In all seriousness if you haven’t played this enough times to anticipate that snowball, you will get hit, guaranteed. Oh, and no there’s no one throwing said projectile

Getting through this game will require some memorization, which in some circumstances is okay and some not at all. You’ll be on a platform and then out of nowhere a snowball hits you! For no reason! And nope, there isn’t a single entity to be found at the pitching end of said projectile. Just a stupid additive in an already overly-difficult stage that brings your health even closer to its end.

To say this is a fair game would be akin to saying Escape from L.A. is a much different movie than Escape from New York. Battletoads is virtually unplayable with a second player, we all know that, but how about single player? Do I have to mention the Turbo Tunnel again?

All I can say is you’ll lose lives like you’ll lose hair pigmentation as a result of your ill-fated attempts at conquering this game. There are times I wonder by what arbitrary means the developers decided to assign damage points to the enemies. A block of ice? Really? That hurts me? And I can devastate one snowman with a single hit, yet another takes two or more? Oh, wait, one of those crows that barely did anything to me before just killed me with one hit.  Great.

Unfortunately I’ve never made it past the Arctic Cavern so I can only imagine where it goes from there (but good luck finding somebody else who has made it past the Turbo Tunnel! What? It’s not that big of a deal? Get over myself? Who the hell do you think you are anyway?).

So with an unfair difficulty curve, middle-shelf controls, and a clear effort to imitate another green group of anthropomorphic heroes, why do I even enjoy this game? After going through all these critiques I’m not sure I do anymore.

It’s hard, yeah. But it’s the satisfying kind of difficulty, even if it is a bit cruel. I cannot tell you how much of a rush you’ll get after hearing that victory riff at the end of a lightning-speed race against feasibility in the Turbo Tunnel (I know, you’re as sick of hearing about this part as I am of using it as my sole Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 10.37.13 AMexample of accomplishment). And the controls aren’t so bad as to ruin the experience; they might just add a few tally marks to your death count, that’s all.

I love this game for its style; its ball-to-the-walls, no-fucks-given attitude. From their larger than life reactions and wild series of over-the-top attacks to the badass entrance they make swinging down from a rope in the sky. And while most beat ‘em ups tend to all blend together, this one stands out with a wide variety of challenges, mixing the standard fare with platforming, rappelling, unique trials, and some interesting boss battles.

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 10.44.50 AM

Yes, that toad just became a wrecking ball

The Battletoads make for some pretty awesome heroes. Despite their origin as a second-rate knockoff, they manage to stay cool throughout. And don’t you just love those outrageous finishing moves? They have their flaws, sure, but who can stay mad at a Toad after it batters an enemy with its ram horns?

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 11.51.35 AM

Battletoads does a lot of things wrong but it also does a lot of things right, and I think its positive attributes outweigh the negatives. Beat ‘em ups are very fun in general so as long as the game follows the formula you’re good. But if it brings something extra to the table, as it does in Battletoads, then you’re even better.

And ohhh, the music. Can we all just take a moment and Youtube the Turbo Tunnel Race theme?

Ahh, okay. See? Without those breakneck speeds to steal your attention, it’s a pretty rockin’ tune.

Written by ZB


Since the tender age of four, I have been playing video games to occupy my free time. Raised on Nintendo and Sega Genesis, I have an extensive knowledge and enthusiasm for the classics. Also an avid collector, I have accrued such consoles as the Atari Jaguar, Super Famicom, Odyssey 2, Sega Nomad, just to name a few.

Got any questions, comments, concerns, or threats? Feel free to email me at I am happy to hear your feedback!


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  1. It took me around 5 years to get passed that dreaded ice level. Battletoads is the perfect example of that 8 bit difficulty we’re all so used to hearing about.

  2. Oh man this game… So hard! I too have never beaten the ice level. And after years and years (decades?) Of trying to get there on 2 player mode, I eventually made it solo! But holy cheap that level is insane!

    I love (and hate) how easy it is (for an experienced veteran) to get that far in the game, making your only true challenge the ice level.

    • I need to try the NES version, I think that’s the one that’s supposed to be really balls to the walls. Either way, I remember first time doing the Turbo Tunnel with a friend…impossible. Recently picked up the Gameboy version, gonna play that on my new Super Gameboy!

      On a side note, I had a hell of a time playing this game to get those screen caps. The game is hard enough on the actual console, but emulated on a keyboard is something else…

  3. I’m really disappointed I never played this game when I was younger…I had Battletoads & Double Dragon on the SNES instead.

    • I have that one for Genesis. I don’t know if there’s much of a difference between the two, but I find that to be the weakest of the trilogy. Battlemaniacs is really awesome for SNES if you haven’t gotten a chance to play that one yet.


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