Tag Archives: Battletoads

A Toadaly Awesome Battletoads Retrospective

Back in the late eighties and early nineties, those pesky Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were everywhere. Comic books, cartoons, action figures, games and even movies. Those four deadly weapon wielding reptiles were hugely popular and still kind of are today, I guess. I lost interest in them pretty quickly to be honest. The whole TMNT phenomenon didn’t really grab me. I watched some of the cartoon, played a couple of the games and somewhat enjoyed the first film… and then got bored and moved on pretty quickly. By the time 1991 rolled around, I had pretty much forgotten all about Leo, Mikey, Don and the other one, Bob I think.

TMNT

Part of the reason why TMNT had slipped away from me in 1991 was due to something similar, but with a bit more of an edge. I mean, I was fifteen/sixteen at the time, growing up, leaving school and preparing to enter the real world. Watching kids cartoons, playing kids games and so on just didn’t interest mid-teenage me then (yes I was an idiot). It was the summer of 1991 when I was first introduced to Battletoads, a more ‘grown up’ parody of TMNT. I say ‘grown up’, using that as loosely as I can, because we all know now just how puerile Battletoads was.

The brainchild of Rare founders, Tim and Chris Stamper (read my book), Battletoads was unleashed onto the public in June, 1991. Seeing as a new game is released today, I thought I’d do a retrospective on the entire Battletoads franchise starting with that first game, up to the latest today and everything in-between, warts and all.

Battletoads

As previously mentioned, this is where it all started. It was June, 1991 when the first Battletoads game was released for the NES. Developed by Rare and published by Tradewest, Battletoads is a mix of scrolling beat ’em up/platformer and even a little vehicle action thrown in too. The plot of the game is that Professor T. Bird and the titular Battletoads, Rash, Zitz, and Pimple, are on a mission to escort Princess Angelica home on their spaceship. However, Pimple and Angelica take a detour on Pimple’s flying space-car when they are kidnapped by the Dark Queen and taken to a planet called Ragnarok. Professor T. Bird receives a call from the Dark Queen, daring Rash and Zitz to come and save their friend and Princess Angelica.

BATTLETOADS NES

And so the game kicks off proper as a one or two-player affair with you controlling either Rash or Zitz of the titular toads. Battletoads is typical scrolling beat ’em up stuff. Simple enough controls with a jump and attack, various weapons to pick up so you can beat the bad guys with and so on. If you ever played Double Dragon, Golden Axe, Final Fight, etc, then you know what to expect here. But what separated Battletoads from other titles of its ilk back then was its humour and variety. Given the name of the heroes, you can be assured this game does not take itself seriously at all. It’s silly, puerile and yet utterly charming at the same time. There’s a real cartoony feel, not just with the overall presentation but also with the fighting itself. Knocking down bad guys with a huge boot, smashing into them with ram horns and so on. But then, each level feels different and fresh, there’s typical side scrolling action, abseiling down a canyon, even vehicle based levels (just say the words ‘turbo tunnel’ to a Battletoads fan and watch them break out in a cold sweat) to platforming sections. Battletoads really throws a lot into the mix… and it works very well too in all honesty.

Often thought of as one of the finest games in the NES library, Battletoads was and still is very much loved among gamers. But as much loved and respected Battletoads is, it’s also known for it’s punishing difficulty. If you could finish the game on the NES, original, no emulation, no save states, then you could easily be considered a gaming legend. Then if you could do it in two-player… which was even harder, then you were a God. The game still holds up very well today too, if you can get past it’s difficulty, there’s a genuinely great title here. One that is easy to pick up, but very hard to play and master.

The original game eventually saw ports to all sorts of machines over the years including the Mega Drive/Genesis, Game Boy, Game Gear and the Amiga and Amiga CD32. The various ports have their good and bad points, for example the Amiga CD32 version has some really great cut-scenes… but it pays terribly. Of all the versions, the NES original is still the best.

BATTLETOADS GAME BOY

1991 also saw the release of Battletoads the LCD game from Tiger. I don’t really need to go into details over this one do I? You all remember those terrible Tiger LCD games with pretty much zero gameplay. If you really, really want to see what it was like, then here’s a YouTube clip you can watch. Then just to finish, the Game Boy port was released in 1993 with a slight title change. Battletoads in Ragnarok’s World, aside from it’s obvious monochrome colour palette, single-player only mode, smaller screen and stripped down levels, it’s actually a pretty damn good port of the original.

Battletoads

So, things get a little complicated here as in 1991 there was another game called Battletoads for the Game Boy… only it wasn’t a port of the previous NES version, this was a whole new game. This is why the Game Boy port of the NES version from 1993 had a different title, because this completely different and exclusive game for the Game Boy was released first in 1991. See, it all makes perfect sense… I think? So the plot is that Rash, Zitz, and Pimple are taking a break from their adventures. An exotic dancer entertains them, but the dancer is actually the Dark Queen, she and her henchmen ambush the toads and a fight ensues. Both Rash and Pimple are taken away, leaving only Zitz to rescue his toady partners.

BATTLETOADS GAME BOY 2

Again, this is Battletoads and very much like the original game, but with an all new story and levels. It’s still that mix of scrolling beat ’em up/platformer and vehicle action. It plays just like the original too and yes, it’s still bloody hard as nails difficult. The limitations of the Game Boy do show here though as the game is very short and can be completed in less than twenty minutes, plus each level is restrictive and can be finished in a minute or two. What is here is a good Battletoads game, but compared to the latter and previously mentioned Battletoads in Ragnarok’s World, the port of the NES original, it just feels like it’s lacking somewhat.

Battletoads

No, the titles are not changing very much so far are they? But the medium is, as this is not a game. In 1992 and after the success of the game(s), the idea was to try and TMNT the franchise with a cartoon. So production company DiC (Inspector Gadget, M.A.S.K., The Real Ghostbusters, to name a few) secured the rights to make an all new Battletoads animated TV show. The story of the show was to be a prequel to the game(s) and followed three high-school students who are given the power to transform into anthropomorphic toads with superhuman strength and abilities by Professor T. Bird. The trio of toads are tasked with protecting Princess Angelica from the Dark Queen.

BATTLETOADS CARTOON

Unlike the TMNT attempt of breaking into animation, Battletoads failed. Only one episode was ever made, a pilot. The pilot was aired on Thanksgiving weekend, 1992, but the show was never picked up to make a full series. You can actually watch the pilot on YouTube as it was officially released. You can see it’s a bit rough, the animation isn’t great, even for the time and it just feels very flat. DiC made some great animated shows back in the eighties and nineties, Battletoads wasn’t one of them. It just felt too ‘kiddy’, I know Battletoads was silly and puerile, but it still had a bit more of an edge to it. The animated show completely missed that and tried to market itself to ten and twelve year-olds, when it should’ve been aimed towards mid-teens. It just wasn’t Battletoads, it was a poor quality Saturday morning cartoon that really miss the style and tone of its source material.

Battletoads in Battlemaniacs

1993 saw the latest title in the franchise hit the shelves. Originally released on the SNES before seeing a port to the Master System. So this time, the toads are invited to the Gyachung-La fortress in northern Tibet. Professor T. Bird shows them T.R.I.P.S (Total Reality Integrated Playing System), a new virtual reality game system made by the Psicone Corporation. While demonstrating the system’s digital world, a dragon riding pig leaps out kidnaps the daughter of the Psicone Corporation’s CEO, Michiko Tashoku. Zitz steps forward to defend her, but is knocked out and taken into the virtual world, along with Michiko. Of course, the Dark Queen appears and has teamed up with new villain, Silas Volkmire in a plan to turn the real word into the virtual world in the VR system. So it’s up to Rash and Pimple to enter the game to stop the Dark Queen and Silas Volkmire, as well as save Michiko Tashoku and their friend, Zitz.

BATTLETOADS BATLLEMANIACS

Battletoads in Battlemaniacs is pretty much more of the same as the previous titles… which isn’t a bad thing. The obvious graphic upgrade form the NES to the SNES is really quite impressive. The Battletoads themselves are far better animated and bring a lot of humour to the game. The levels are bigger, more colourful and varied than ever before. As with the previous games, Battletoads in Battlemaniacs offers a lot of variation for each level, yes there is the classic scrolling beat ’em up stuff, more vehicle action and platforming too. It really is typical Battletoads, in many ways, this feels more like a remake or reworking of the original game over an all new title. Many of the levels are the same, just with slight variations on the NES game. And yes, in typical Rare style, the game is harder than a male porn star on Viagra. It also featured two different endings.

Interesting little tit-bit to finish up on. The Master System version was heavily advertised and even reviewed in gaming magazines at the time here in Europe… but ultimately, it was never officially released. For some unknown reason, the European version was scrapped at the last minute. The Master System port did eventually see a release in 1996… in Brazil. It was released unfinished too with several glitches and other notable issues. You can watch a play through of the Master System version right here.

Battletoads/Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team

I really was a bit of a Battletoads fan in that early-mid nineties era. You know what else I loved? Double Dragon, in fact Double Dragon was the first arcade game I ever finished in the eighties, and I became obsessed with the game since. So when this crossover was released in 1993, seventeen year-old me was beyond excited. You got to chose from five playable characters, any of the three Battletoads and Billy and Jimmy Lee from Double Dragon. The story this time has the Dark Queen team up with the Shadow Warriors gang from Double Dragon to take over the universe. So, of course, the toads step up to stop them along with help from the Lee twins.

BATTLETOADS DOUBLE DRAGON

This one is a brilliant mixing of the two franchises. Both series are represented fairly with in-jokes and references a-plenty. Plus from a gameplay perspective, both Battletoads and Double Dragon get treated with respect. There is the variety of levels from the toad’s games, vehicle stuff and abseiling, etc, but there’s a bigger focus on the beat ’em up action too that feels more Double Dragon. Battletoads/Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team is one of the best titles in both of the respective franchises and still well worth playing today too. It’s worth noting that this was the first time all three Battletoads could be selected in a game. If you hadn’t noticed, all the previous games, one (or more) of the toads was always knocked out/kidnapped and needed saving within the story.

Battletoads Arcade

For me personally, Battletoads didn’t get any better then this. Released in 1994, Battletoads Arcade was… wait for it… and arcade game. The first time the toads had seen a game not released on consoles (not counting the Rare Replay version). I’m not even sure of there’s a story this time around. I know the Dark Queen is back and you have to stop her… but I’m not exactly sure what you are stopping her from doing to be honest. It’s an arcade game and they rarely had stories, they were about eating up as many coins from punters as they could and Battletoads Arcade was no different.

BATTLETOADS ARCADE

Being an arcade game over a console one meant that developers, Rare, were able to push the boundaries a bit more. Battletoads Arcade is far more bombastic and visceral than any of the other games. The graphics are bigger and bolder than ever before, there’s blood and gore, the humour is pushed further and so on. There’s even some cleverly hidden in plain sight swearing using puns. Then from a gameplay perspective, this is balls to the wall action. There’s still a hint of the trademark Battletoads variety with the levels, but the emphasis here is most definitely on the fisticuffs more so than ever before. Battletoads Arcade is stupidly ridiculous, loud and brash, fabulously over the top… and I adore it. It also features some really great graphics and ideas using sprite-scaling and perspective. Even now, Battletoads Arcade is a very attractive, good looking game. If there is one negative, then it is that you never fight the Dark Queen, the toads main adversary, nor does she make an appearance (aside from a small cameo on the third level). She’s mentioned in the game, she’s even said to have been defeated in the ending… but you never see or directly fight her. Why was there no Dark Queen? Still, this is Battletoads as its finest. If they ever want to try and make another Battletoads cartoon (I can dream), then this game is where they should draw their influence from. 

And that was it for the Battletoads, they had no more games for twenty-six years… until…

Battletoads

All of which brings up right up to date with this latest game in the franchise. After two and a half decades, Rash, Zitz, Pimple and the Dark Queen are back! Now, before I get into this one, I just want to address something. There’s been some harsh fan-backlash over the art style of this new game. Just to be perfectly  clear… I really don’t like it either. It just doesn’t feel or look like a Battletoads game. You know what it looks like? A bad Saturday morning kids cartoon… and we know how that turned out for Battletoads (see above). Nope, I really, really do not like the art style of this game. But, there is more to a game than how it looks, and its gameplay is what’s important here. So, the game it quite literally just a few hours old. I stayed up late to give it a play at midnight this morning and I put in a few more hours while finishing this article and did manage to complete the game.

Well, I guess the big question is, was it worth the twenty-six year wait? One of those years being a delay as the game was originally planned for a 2019 release. It’s also worth noting that this is the first Battletoads game not developed by series creator, Rare. Instead, the IP was outsourced to Dlala Studios

BATTLETOADS 2020

Was it worth the wait? No. This game is terrible. It’s not even a proper Battletoads game. One of the things I’ve always praised the series for is its variety, but at heart, the franchise is still a scrolling beat ’em up. Here, the main action and draw of the franchise takes a back seat, don’t let the carefully edited trailers fool you as there is very little beat ’em up action here. What Battletoads is, is a collection of very poor mini-games. In fact, most of the game is everything except beat ’em up action that the franchise is famed for.

Yes the game starts out with classic Battletoads action, but it soon just becomes the kind of shallow flash games you used to find on Newgrounds.com. You’ll be playing a dull twin-stick shooter, a platformer with a hippy-like character, then there’s even a mini-game that has several mini-games within one mini-game… the part when your ship breaks down and it needs to be rebooted. Trust me, when you play it, you’ll know just how tedious it is. Oh and there’s even a bit where you take photos with a phone. There’s annoying button pressing/QTE games, press switches to make a circuit connections and more mediocrity. This is not Battletoads! Rock, paper, scissors… there’s a rock, paper, scissors mini-game… more than once. Even Alex Kid is shaking his head in disbelief at that.

BATTLETOADS 2020 FIGHT

But even if you can make it through the utterly boring mini-games and do stick it out for the beat ’em up action (what little there is), even that is horrendous thanks to some really obnoxious controls. Some buttons have to do double duty… but neither of the shoulder buttons are used at all. That makes no sense, you’ve got two perfectly good buttons not doing anything, but then force multiple button presses to do something that should take only one button. That’s bad game design. The toads also control really sluggish too, the way they walk is as if they’re knee deep in treacle. There is a run button and when that is used, that’s a much more playable speed… but you have to keep the run button pressed and on top of the other buttons you need to press (as mentioned, some having to do double duty), the control scheme of the beat ’em up section is just so backward and counter-intuitive. I’ve not played a game with such a convoluted and awkward control scheme since Red Dead Redemption II.

I know I said before I didn’t like the art style, and I don’t. But here, it’s more then just not looking nice, it ruins the game when the action does kick off. The screen just becomes this blur of garish colours and it’s really hard to make out what is going on. I mean…

BATTLETOADS 2020 MESSY

… what is going on up there there? Who is doing what to who? How many enemies are there? It just looks like a three year-old has eaten too much sugar and thrown up on the screen. 

You want to know how slow the game is? Remember the infamous turbo tunnel section in the original? That fast-paced, action packed, heart-pumping level that gets the pulse racing and the sweat pouring? Well it’s back here… only it’s really, really, really slow. Now given a third person view, you can see the obstacles coming from half a mile away and it moves along at a snail pace. Don’t believe me? Let me put it this way, the target time to finish the level is over eight minutes…. eight fucking minutes to play turbo tunnel? I was falling asleep trying to get to the end.

BATTLETOADS 2020 TURBO TUNNEL

Battletoads is a sluggish, dull, convoluted, disjointed, disappointment. A confusing mess of a game where the developers clearly had no idea what kind of game to make, so just threw everything in… and it’s a mess  It’s a very average flash game, the kind of thing you’d d’load for free on your phone and delete it after ten minutes of play. How/Why this was delayed I don’t know, it could’ve been knocked up in Flash in three months.

I pushed my way though to the end and uninstalled the game, quickly loaded up Rare Reply so I could cleanse my soul with some Battletoads Arcade. The game is ‘free’ on Game Pass and if curiously really gets the better of you, I guess you can give it a go. But to pay hard earned cash for this is an insult. By far the worse Battletoads game made so far… okay, so it’s not as bad as the LCD thing, but for a ‘proper’ console game, this is terrible.

You want to know how to do a classic beat ’em up revival? Go play Streets of Rage 4. I don’t even like the Streets of Rage franchise at all and I am very much a Battletoads fan, but I have to admit that Streets of Rage 4 got right what Battletoads go so very wrong. I’d rather watch that awful animated pilot again then play this game, that’s how bad it is. 

Other Battletoads Bits

A Battletoads game was in development for the Game Boy Advance sometime in the early two-thousands, but the title was ultimately cancelled. Very little is known about the game, whether it was going to be a sequel or an remake of the original, or even an all new title is anyone’s guess. But, a ROM for the unfinished version was leaked onto the interwebs and some gameplay can bee seen right here.

The toads have made several cameos elsewhere too. The 8-bit homage action/platformer Shovel Knight features Rash, Zitz and Pimple as a boss fight, but only for the Xbox and PC versions of the game. It’s actually a great and quite lengthy fight that pays respects and offers many references to the original game. Check out a play-through of the fight right here.

Rash became a playable character in Rare’s popular fighter Killer Instinct, well in the 2013 reboot anyway. Rash also appears as a landmark in action figure form in the new survival game on the Xbox, Grounded. Of course, the original and the arcade games were both included in the amazing Rare Replay collection from 2015.

RASH GROUNED

Overall, Battletoads has been a solid franchise…. until this new game. The original NES game still holds up almost thirty years later. That Double Dragon crossover was and still is brilliant. It’s a shame that licencing issues prevent it being re-released. This new game is an atrocity to gaming. It’s a shame they messed up this badly, took what was a good franchise and screwed over the fans like that to create a flash mini-game instead. I was hoping that the new Battletoads could be a revival for the series, but it’s a nail in the coffin. We fans will never see a Battletoads Arcade 2 now.

Rare Replay Part VII

Well there you go, that was yer’ actual Rare Replay collection. What a long read (and write) that was, but I enjoyed playing and writing.

So here in part VII, I’d like to do a round-up and look at each game and give my view on how they play today. As well as talk about the Rare Replay as a whole product and ask: “is it worth it?”

RR banner

First off, I’s like to address a few problems the collection has.

1)Missing games.
Now I know some games are missing due to licencing issues, no Goldeneye as Rare no longer have the rights to James Bond, no Donkey Kong Country as Donkey Kong belongs to Nintendo, etc.
But what about the missing Sabreman games? Sabre Wulf, Underwurlde and Knight Lore are here…but no Pentagram or Mire Mare? Now I know Mire Mare was never released, but Rare (then Ultimate) have said the game was 100% completed and an employee at Rare has even said they had played it. There’s not even a mention of it in the featurette that covers scraped/unrealised games.
What about Killer Instinct? Only Killer Instinct Gold is included in this collection, No Killer Instinct (the original) or Killer Instinct 2?
Plus only Battletoads (NES) and Battletoads (Arcade) are present, Battletoads (Gamyboy) is not here, nor is Battletoads in Battlemaniacs, or any of the other Battletoads games.
Now I know Ultimate/Rare have around 150 games to their name, so yeah obviously they were never going to include all 150…even without licence problems. But it seems strange they only include a few games from a series instead of all of them.
Still, Rare Replay 2 I guess…

2) No remastering/originals/tweaking.
I know that Perfect Dark is the 360 version and not the original N64 one. But Conker’s Bad Fur Day is the original N64 version and not the remastered one. Pretty much all of the N64 era games seem to have at least been up-scaled or are the 360 remasters, but not all of them and it just seems a bit “uneven” overall.
Plus it would have been nice to have also included the original versions of the remasters for “purists” too.
But then there is the exact opposite problem with some of the older games, Knight Lore, for example suffers from some terrible slow down and it ruins the game. I can’t believe I’m playing on a cutting edge Xbox One and Knight Lore (a 30 year old game) suffers slowdown. Surely they could have tweaked and improved the performance of some of the older games to help them run smoother too.

3) Locked content.
I don’t mind unlockables in games…as long as they are done right. One of the reasons I really wanted this collection (other than the games) is for the behind the scenes stuff, the documentaries, the unreleased concept art, the cancelled game coverage, etc. There is loads of this kind of stuff on the Rare Reply disc…but it’s all locked and you have to earn stamps by playing the games to unlock them.
It’s just annoying, I want to watch some of this stuff but can’t until I earn stamps by killing 1500 aliens in Jetpack? Personally I don’t mind having to kill 1500 enemies in Jetpack as I enjoyed playing the game and will most probably do that anyway. But what about people that want to watch the documentaries, but do not want to grind through the games unlocking stamps?
Even more so, you can’t choose what you want to unlock. Content just unlocks automatically in a pre-set order. So you want to watch the making of Conker’s Bad Fur Day video? Well you can’t unless you unlock every other video before it first by grinding for stamps.
The video content, documentaries, etc should have been unlocked from the start for everyone to watch.

Those are my main niggles and they are only niggles onto what the collection does right.

1) Presentation.
The overall presentation is really well done. The idea of having everything happen in a theatre giving you the impression you are going to watch a show is pulled off convincingly. The transitions from menu to game to sub-menus is seamless thanks to the inclusion of vaudeville style posters of the games and characters.
Navigating the menus is also smooth and effortless, with 30 games, info on each game, a menu for each individual game too, a separate challenge sub-menu, a video section for the documentaries, etc. It would be easy to get lost in everything this collection has to offer, but the navigation has been implemented so well you wouldn’t believe how much content is on this disc.
You can go to a game, press A and be taken to another sub-menu for a particular game with all sorts of information, history of the game and so on. Then from this sub-menu you can explore screenshots and handy game hints, look at and adjust various in-game options, go to a help screen with tons of info that will pop up in a sidebar while you play, etc. Or you can just press Y from the main game screen to just go straight into the game. Tap the shoulder button to switch the the next game and so on. Its all just so well designed you never get lost in the huge amount of content the disc has to offer.
You can even press the right stick on the older games to change the screen to a classic CRT display and remember the good old days of low quality visuals, a nice little touch.

2) It’s strong collection of games.
There are plenty of game collections out there and sadly most of them contain 2/3 good games and the reset is pretty bad filler. Rare Replay is definitely not one of those, as a Ultimate fan back in the 80s and a Rare fan in the 90s, this collection really gave me a lot of enjoyment and still has a ton of enjoyment to go yet. I was even surprised at how playable even the very early stuff like Jetpack and Sabre Wulf still were today…aside form some of the afore mentioned slowdown.

3) The Price.
I managed to get my copy for just £15, that works out at 50p a game. For me, this is amazing value for money as there is so much content here. Even discounting the games themselves, there are the videos and documentaries, the history of each game, the individual snapshot challenges, etc. Really one of the most packed and worthy classic game collections out there by far.

RR

So, about the games themselves then and did I find them playable today?

Jetpac: Its a simple game from a simpler time. Yet I still found myself just wanting to play “one more game” to try and beat my high score. The game-play maybe simple, but it’s still very playable.

Lunar Jetman: Took the basics of Jetpac and added so much more to it. Has very similar game mechanics as the arcade classic Defender, but with a few interesting tweaks and additions.

Atic Attack: You know, I really thought when I got hold of this collection that I’d see my childhood memories distorted and clouded. I honestly thought I’d play these games and realise they are crap. Well this game right here proved me wrong. One of the all time Spectrum classics that is still playable and fun today.

Sabre Wulf: I popped this one on thinking I’d give it 10 minutes and be bored…3 hours later and I was still exploring the jungle trying to avoid that sneaky wulf. I never finished it as a kid, but I intend on finishing it now.

Underwurlde: This was a game I used to play a lot back in the day and while I found it really frustrating today with the way the enemies bump you around, I have to admit to still finding this one’s has a lot of charm and gets you interested in exploring the castle.

Knight Lore: Great little puzzle/adventure game with plenty to do…just a shame about that damn slowdown that really spoils the game.

Gunfright: I didn’t really play this one back in the day and only glossed over it for this retrospective. But I have to admit to liking what I did see on the small amount of time I played it for. This is one I’m looking forward to playing more of soon.

Slalom: Didn’t really enjoy this one. It was too “simple” and just lacked that quality acotioated with the Rare name. It just seemed like a lazy game with not much to it at all.

R.C. Pro-Am: This was a tough one as it really didn’t do anything wrong, but it also does not excel at anything either. Its a fairly middle of the road racing game that just does what it does.

Cobra Triangle: Action packed and plenty of variety. This was a great little game and a return to form for Rare. Definitely one I’ll be playing more of later.

Snake Rattle ‘n’Roll: A classic then and still holds up very well today. A great little two player games with plenty of fun even if you are playing alone.

Solar Jetman: Tough game indeed, but tough does not mean bad. This was a poor seller when originally realised, but I think that was because it was ahead if its time and people were just not ready for it. This is another game I can see myself playing more of.

Digger T. Rock: I’m not sure what to make of his one yet. It seemed a little too “simple” and not really much meat to the game at all. But I’ll spend a little more time with it and see if it gets any better.

Battletoads: Often said to be one of the hardest games ever for the NES. Yes it is hard, but it’s also damn good fun with a great sense of humor and plenty of variety along the way. Yup, I’ll be getting some game play our of this one.

R.C. Pro-Am II: For me, a vast improvement over the first game. Smoother controls with more added to the game overall. I’d chose this one over the original.

Battletoads Arcade: Mindless button bashing fun. Much more bloody and violent than its NES counterpart. Its not a deep or meaningful game, its just fun. But with it being an arcade game, it is designed with a high difficulty curve as to eating all your spare change. Still at least with this version you are not paying to play.

Killer Instinct Gold: Never was a fan of the Killer Instinct franchise to be honest. This game plays well enough and seems like a perfect version if the game…but its just not for me at all.

Blast Corps: One of the overlooked classics from the N64. A simple enough game where all you have to do is clear a path for a constantly moving and runaway explosive device. Simple yes, but also hugely addictive and inventive. Of all the games on the collection, this was the main one I was looking forward to.

Banjo-Kazooie: After the release of the seminal Mario 64 for the N64 that showed the world how great a 3D platformer could be. Many, many developers tried to follow suit and most of them failed. Rare was one of the few that could put together a great 3D platformer and this was one of their best.

Jet Force Gemini: Another one I never really played back then. But I had heard this was a great game. I only played for about an hour to write this article and found the game rather slow. But I plan on going back and spending more time with this one.

Perfect Dark: its Perfect Dark…nuff said.

Banjo-Tooie: More of the same, only improved in every way. One of the best 3D platformer games around and age has not done it any harm either.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day: Probably the most infamous game in the collection. A classic Rare 3D platformer for an more adult audience, a great game and holds up very well.

Grabbed by the Ghoulies: This is one I also originally missed and only quickly glossed over it for this article. But it looked pretty interesting and I can see myself playing through this one.

Kameo: I did play this one on the Xbox 360 a while back but never did finish it. Glad it’s been included here as its a good action/adventure game and I definitely want to play through to the end this time.

Perfect Dark Zero: A downgrade to the original if you ask me, but still a pretty decent FPS with plenty of variety. I can see myself playing this one again.

Viva Piñata: Never played this one originally, but I like the look of it. I’m not sure I have the time to invest to see everything the game has to offer. But I think it’ll be great to dip into it for a little more play time.

Jetpac Refuelled: I really like the original Jetpack and this one improved on it in every possible way. A quick arcade style game with a simple concept, but a great game none the less.

Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise: See my Viva Piñata comment above.

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts: This one passed me by originally to. I enjoyed the first two games and I’ll definitely be giving this one more of a play in the future.

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So there you go, 30 Ultimate/Rare games from over a 30 year career.
But is the whole package any good?

Yes, a thousand times yes.
This really is an amazing collection of great (and a few not so great) games from one of the best and fan favourite games developers of all time.

Even with the games aside, this is still an interesting and in depth history lesson. The video content, documentaries, behind the scenes stuff is worth the £15 price tag alone for me.
The games are an added bonus.

But this collection is really worth getting as there are some simply amazing games included. Many people have been saying the price is with it for Conker’s Bad Fur Day alone…yup, it pretty much is.
If you are an old school gamer like myself and we’re also a fan of Ultimate and Rare, then this is a must buy, go and get it now.

The collection works as a great reminder of “the good old days”,it also works as a nice history lesson and insight to one of the gaming world’s best developers.

Best thing I’ve brought for my Xbox One…wait, I pre-ordered Fallout 4 yesterday.
Best thing I’ve brought for my Xbox One…until November 11th.

Thanks for joining me on this look at the entire Rare Replay collection.
Feel free to read my look at Ultimate/Rare as a developer while you are here.

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Rare Replay Part III

So here we are in part III of this Rare Reply retrospective and we pick up with the Rare/Nintendo partnership going strong from the last few titles. But can they maintain that momentum and bring us another NES classic?

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Snake Rattle ‘n’ Roll: Released for the NES in 1990 by Rare. An action/platformer game using that tired and tested isometric view…again. The game was later ported to the Mega Drive in 1993.

A single or two player game featuring two snakes named; Rattle and Roll. The object of each level is to eat enough “Nibbley Pibbleys” as the game calls them, small round creatures found throughout each level. As you eat, you snake grows (titter) with the idea being that you gain enough weight to jump on and ring a bell at the end of the level that will open the door you need to progress.
Your snakes length increases more (who came up with the idea for this game, was it one of the Carry On team?) when they eat “Nibbley Pibbleys” of their own colour, and they grow even more when they eat the rarer yellow ones.
Each level have one or more dispenser which will randomly spew out the “Nibbley Pibbleys”. However, they can also randomly spew out bombs which can damage the snakes, so you can’t go around eating everything.

You snake growing works as a kind of health bar as each segment on your snake equates to one hit from an enemy, too many hits and you’ll lose all your segments and eventually lose a life.
You can also lose a life if your snakes fall too far of a distance from a platform, if the timer runs out, if you touch a sharp object, or even if you get squashed by an object from above.
Also of note, if you stay in water for too long, a shark will attack and a parody of the Jaws theme will play.

Enemies can be defeated by hitting them with your snake tongue or by jumping on them Mario style.
Throughout the levels are various items; to extend the length of your snakes tongue, give extra lives, extend the time limit and even items that will speed up or reverse the direction of your snake.

Snake Rattle ‘n’ Roll received positive reviews and praise. American video gaming magazine Game Players awarded Snake Rattle ‘n’ Roll the “Game Player’s NES Excellence Award” for 1990 as one of the best games released for the NES that year.
Nintendo Power praised the game for its precise controls and for its blend of puzzle and action elements.

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Next up sees the return of Ultimate/Rare’s original gaming hero.

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Solar Jetman: Hunt for the Golden Warpship Returning for the third outing in the Jetman series, developed by Rare for the NES and relased in 1990. Interesting note: early covers misspell the title: Hunt for the Golden Warship instead of the correct Warpship.

A game similar in style to the arcade classic Thrust or Atari’s Lunar Lander. With the player’s ship is subject to inertia, so to stop moving in one direction it needs to thrust in the opposite way and also deal with the constant pull of gravity at the same time.

Solar Jetman has twelve planets and one hidden planet as its levels. Each planet has its own system of winding and maze like caverns full of various enemy types.
The goal of the game is to navigate these maze like caverns via the use of a small jetpod, which is launched from an immobile mothership. On each world, you must bring a piece of the warpship to the mothership and also enough fuel to journey to the next planet. Items are collected with a tow cable which makes the flight control even more difficult as you are now dealing with extra weight on top of the inertia and gravity.
Points are earned by retrieving valuables and items as well as destroying the various enemies you’ll encounter. Those points can then be spent after every other level to buy power-ups. If a jetpod is destroyed, then Jetman ejects in an agile but feeble and poorly armoured spacesuit. But you can return to the mothership for another jetpod.

Solar Jetman met with average reviews and as a result, average sales too. So much so that other planned ports were pulled.

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The original Ultimate gaming hero, Jetman is left behind as we are introduced to a new kid on the “block”.

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Digger T. Rock: Legend of the Lost City: Developed by Rare in 1990 for the NES and relased by Milton Bradley Company. Digger T. Rock was a change of pace and a new idea from Rare.

With you controlling the titular character of Digger T. Rock exploring caverns for hidden treasure an ultimately The Lost City using a similar game-play mechanic to Boulderdash.
The game is divided into 8 separate caverns all of which must be explored while avoiding enemies, cave-in’s, and fatal plunges. Digger can use multiple tools, such as his standard shovel to dig tunnels and explore more of the cavern as well as climb rocks and even some walls. Other equipment such as; ladders and explosives can be found and then be used to explore and uncover new areas within the caverns. Monsters such as moles and mosquitoes need to be avoided or hit with your shovel.

The goal of each cavern is to locate both the end of level door and a special pillar which unlocks the door. When the pillar is found and stepped on, this activates a countdown timer during which, the door is open. You then must must race past obstacles and enemies to the door before the timer ends and the door re-closes.
Later levels include caveman villages where the player can purchase helpful tools with your collected treasure.

Digger T. Rock was another game that met with average reviews, many reviewers noted the games strict difficulty but praised the game for its exploration.

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With the last two Rare games being average at best, they needed something to revive the faith in their fans…maybe a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rip off would work?

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Battletoads: Released in 1991 for the NES, created by Tim and Chris Stamper. This was the first instalment to the Battletoads series and the game was later ported to several other machines.

As single or two player game with each player controlling either Rash or Zitz (yes, that is their names) on a mission to save their friend and fellow Battletoad, Pimple and Princess Angelica who have both been kidnapped by The Dark Queen.

Battletoads is a beat em’ up/platformer with a great sense of humour. The levels offer plenty of variety from simple beat em’ up sections to abseiling and even vehicle and underwater based levels.
A nice touch is how you could defeat enemies with your morphing body parts; punching/kicking with an enlarged fist or boot, head-butting with ram horns or even transform into a wrecking ball to smash the bad guys.

Often cited as one of the hardest games on the NES, but still Battletoads was met with positive reviews.
Nintendo Power ranked the NES version as the 89th best game on any Nintendo platform, commenting: “The graphics created by Rare were so exceptional by any standard and the game was so challenging and fun.” GamesRadar ranked it the 18th best NES game ever made, stating that it was a fun game but its most notable element was its difficulty.
It was nominated for the 1991 Nintendo Power Awards in nine categories, winning the first place in the categories: Graphics and Sound (NES), Theme and Fun (NES), Best Play Control (NES) and Best Multi-Player or Simultaneous (NES).

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We leave the weird and funny world of Battletoads…for a short while, to be greeted with a sequel to one of the better Rare/Nintendo endeavours.

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R.C. Pro-Am II: The sequel to the 1988 hit R.C. Pro-Am. Released in 1992 for the NES, developed by Rare. This one offered a more refined and enjoyable experience over the first game.

R.C. Pro-Am II is very much more of the same, but offers many refinements over R.C. Pro-Am.
Four vehicles compete against each other on a series of 24 different and varying tracks: eight standard racetracks, eight cityscape tracks, and eight off-road tracks. In single-player mode, the player races against three CPU controlled opponents. The game also offers a multi-player mode in which up to four human players can race against each other simultaneously.
Before each race starts, players can use money earned from previous races to buy vehicle upgrades and weapons. These can then be used against other competitors. Upgrades and weapons include: motors for increased speed, tires for better turning and traction, missiles, bombs, and freeze beams to hinder your opponents racing and buckshots which will steal opponents cash.

Also returning are the track hazards like; water, oil, bombs, mud, ice, and even bomb-dropping aircraft that will slow the players speed. The game includes two types of bonus stages that award race points and cash. Scattered around the tracks are letters that spell “PRO AM II”, if you can collect all of the letters you’ll receive a new and faster vehicle with tighter controls.

R.C. Pro-Am II was named Nintendo Power‍‍​‍s best NES game of 1993. Official Nintendo Magazine praised the game overall and its multi-player in particular. Nintendo Power praised the game’s controls and upgrade options, which made the game strategic, but the magazine criticized the difficulty as unfair.

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Well we are at the halfway mark, 15 games in and 15 games left in the Rare Replay collection. In part IV we see the return of the Battletoads and we enter the N64 era of the Rare/Nintendo double act as well as see out the end of the century.

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