Monday, July 25, 2011

Top 30 Hardest NES Games Ever. Day25


Another shoe-in for #1 comes tumbling down the list and finds its way to #6, of all places!  Battletoads is so hard that at the 2010 Cleveland Classic Gaming Convention a group of vendors held a contest: the first person to sit down and beat Battletoads at the show, would win a sweetly decorated Battletoads custom NES console. 

No one won that console.

Battletoads' difficulty is infamous.  It is heralded in many circles at THE hardest NES game ever.  And that reputation is not unjustified.  Battletoads features some of the most difficult platforming levels you are going to find in the 8-bit era.  The game doesn't pull any punches.  Level 3, the dreaded Turbo Tunnel, is a madcap race through an obstacle course on a hover jet-ski looking thing.  The action is fast paced, the obstacles are just plain mean, and even top gamers can easily find themselves at the GAME OVER screen as a result of this level.
That was one friggin' sweet system!

The level designs in Battletoads are what give the game its core difficulty.  Some levels throw lots of tough enemies at you, others ask you to race to the finish on surfboards or navigate vertical tunnels on the back of burrowing robot snakes.  Variety is the spice of life in Battletoads and you'll need all of your skills if you are to see the end of this game.  Making matters worse, your Toads have plenty of hit points and you can score extra lives to keep going (not to mention a generous helping of continues), but there are lots of ways to die from a single mishap like falling in a hole, running into something while on the hover bike or surf board, and so on.  There are also some enemies that hit really hard and can take half of your life in one shot.  This greatly reduces the amount of careless hits you can take, particular during the more standard levels.  It also means you have to learn the levels inside and out if you are going to clear them without major loss of life.
Most players get this far and go home.  The Dreaded Turbo Tunnel is only three levels deep into the game.
Due to some of the more ball busting levels there is some added difficulty, at least for me, from the amount of frustration that can build up from not making it through that damn turbo tunnel again!  Or the surf board level, or the stupid snakes.  Plus, once you feel like you have a handle on some of the early levels, it is easy to get miffed by stupid deaths (jumping off the screen in the combat part of the Turbo Tunnel level, or getting zapped by the robots in level 2, for instance).  Battletoads is one of those games that gets my anger management sponsor a few extra phone calls during dinner and may or may not have cost me the start button on one of my controllers (don't ask).  The point here being: Battletoads is hard.

There are a few things about the game that keep it from being number one on my list.  First, the warps.  There are plenty of warps in this game that, once learned, can have you near the end pretty quickly.  There is one at the start of the very first level, another near the end of the Turbo Tunnel, as well as others scattered about.  Finding these can catapult you over some annoying levels and put you closer to the end with more lives and continues in tact.  Speaking of which, there are also a few ways to scum yourself up some extra lives.  The crows in level 2, for instance.  If you can keep juggling their corpses as you descend the tunnel, you can rack up some serious extra lives.  And I don't have to tell you why that is important.  And if the lives weren't enough, Battletoads is surprisingly generous with the continues as well.  Therefore, if you can master the early levels via repetition,(of which you will get plenty), utilize the warps to your advantage, and exploit the system for some extra lives, you can get pretty near the end of the game with a decent stockpile and cushion yourself against the worst the game has to offer.

I came very close to beating Battletoads several times and I think if I did more yoga to keep my anger in check I could probably take it down.  But that is going to have to wait for another day, somewhere in the distant future perhaps.  There is no doubt that Battletoads belongs in the top 10 Hardest NES games ever, it has earned its place, but I dare say there are 5 games that are even harder...
To this day, Thomas Stone refuses to play any video game that features mild violence, Battletoads included...

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