Rare Review: Battletoads 2020

The animations and transformations are great.

A sequel to Battletoads, this latest version starts off very promising. The graphics are lovely, with a wonderful cartoon look that fits the Battletoads extremely well. The game is divided into four acts with changes in gameplay, so I will go through each individually.

Battletoads 2020 starts off as you would expect from a Battletoads game: fighting. The morphing animations are great and creative, and the fighting as a whole is great. For the most part, act 1 is mainly these fighting segments with some entertaining interactive cutscenes and a hoverbike section.

Unlike the original battletoads, the hoverbike is fairly slow, dull and easy. It’s a pretty boring segment and the backwards perspective reduces the sense of speed. It’s not terrible, but considering the idea of a Turbo Tunnel is taken from a previous game, it’s a shame that the gameplay is much worse.

Act 2 again is mostly fighting, and a very entertaining chapter of Battletoads. The final level of this is like a Donkey Kong Country minecart right, and it fits in extremely well. You have to transform between three different forms for different surfaces, it’s fast and the controls feel extremely precise. It’s a brilliant level. Battletoads 2020 is great so far, but after this level you may as well stop playing.

In Act 3 the ‘Toads split up. The next level is a ship shooting level, a vertical scroller like Ikaruga. Except it’s extremely boring, and goes on for far too long. When this is done, it’s off to a platforming level, featuring simple puzzles. It looks a bit like Rayman Legends, and feels like a rejected Rayman Legends level. 

If these levels were one-off, then they’d just be a couple of bad levels and a small thing to put up with. However, there are four of both types of these levels, which is almost the rest of the game. To top it off, there’s a level where you need to repair the ship.

This is a bit like Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes, where you have to try and diffuse the bomb solving a bunch of small puzzles. In that, a second player has a manual to talk them through the bomb. In this, you mess around until it works. On top of that, it’s extremely difficult to see what part of the screen is active (all the parts are displayed at once, but you only work on one section at a time). It’s frustrating and just terribly designed.

After a long cutscene, it’s time for the final mission. It starts off in a fighting section on an elevator, which is extremely promising. After a short fight…it’s over. Then it’s time for another overly long jetbike scene. It doesn’t do anything new compared to the first. Then it’s the final boss (which is decent, but not worth going through the previous stuff) and a quick time event to finish.

It’s a massive shame that Battletoads 2020 gives up being a Battletoads game half way through it, as the fighting was really good fun and entertaining. The original Battletoads had some non-fighting levels, so why do they feel so out of place in the 2020 game?

I think it’s due to how they’re played. The sections in the original were still in the same perspective, with similar controls and felt like you were controlling the same character using a vehicle. In 2020, it instead feels like you’ve changed to a completely different game. On top of that, the repetition of these segments (especially act 3) and the almost complete lack of fighting in the second half of the game just makes you want to get back to the main game.

To reiterate my advice from before: play acts 1 and 2 as they’re great, then watch the cutscenes of the rest on YouTube as the rest of Battletoads 2020 is not fun at all.

All Rare Replay reviews (Note: this is not part of Rare Replay, but I am including all my Rare reviews here).

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