Retro Game of the Day! Battletoads
Battletoads by Rare, originally for NES and ported later to Sega Genesis, originally appearing in mid-1991. Oh, this game is famous for being a bunch of punishment...
Alright, so Battletoads was deployed during a strange period for the NES. Sega Genesis (and Turbografx-16, to a lesser extent) were all the talk of the town as they were the hot new business, tech-wise and trendy-wise - had been for some time. Even the Super Nintendo was gearing up to release shortly, all of this added up to a notion that the NES' 8-bit days were numbered. At this point you'd expect it's supply of interesting new titles would be slowing to an absolute crawl - apparently this was not the case.
BT was essentially a thematic rip-off/parody of things like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and quite apologetically - though no one minded (or cared!) The toads weren't quite as fleshed out with personality as those characters, but this was not the point really - the intention was to create a really difficult game and wrap some me-too marketable characters around it. And thus Battletoads was born-
So what's the game? 1 or 2 players, you are teaming up to take on the diabolic forces of the Dark Queen and save your buddy. Whatever - you are plumbing the depths of some of the most infuriating game design ever! BT is not a bad game, in fact it's quite fun - but one thing they were lacking in was rhythm, as the game quickly becomes an exercise in punishment and frustration. There's a reason this series never took off!
It's a shame too, as there were tons of great ideas/execution plundered in this title. The tech was very impressive (especially considering the aged hardware it was running on!) and the worlds/goals/things you could do were all quite enjoyable. The game looked marvelous on paper, I am not sure who's idea it was to make it such a herculean effort to pass.
However, in spite of all of my whining - is this a bad thing? Rare's games were seldom easy, this was simply the zenith of that idea. This all culminated in a Rare game that was at the top of it's class, for much of what they stood for (innovation, weirdness, difficulty). Hushed utterances of the game's name evoke groans and moans and "I never passed the speederbike level - level 3!" The game is a legend which might otherwise be forgotten if it was "just another character action game" - in this way, it has gone down in history as a contest which only the toughest of champs have been able to endure.
Still a good game, and quite playable, and worth battling it out with to see "how high can you get?" though I doubt most would be up for this challenge - there's more than a few reasons that this game would never show up on Virtual Console. That's a shame, as Battletoads absolutely deserves it's place in history, be quiet you babies.