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Video Game: Battletoads
It's toadally awesome!
"You played as Rash, Zitz, or Pimple, because we really were that dumb as kids, and their quest was to defeat the Dark Queen, because it's really easy to manipulate dumb kids. Battletoads wasn't a game, it was a secret project to electronically destroy the human soul. The game was harder than a diamond strap-on and did similar things to you when you played with it."
Cracked, "7 Dick Moves Everyone Pulled in Classic Videogames"

Describe Battle-Jerks here, vermin, if you dare! Ha-ha-ha!

A side-scroller that hitched a ride on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles craze of the late 80s and early 90s, this was Rare's first major franchise. Set in outer space, Battletoads is the story of Zitz, Pimple, and Rash, three poorly-named heroes who battle the Dark Queen with the assistance of their Mentor, Professor T. Bird. When Pimple gets kidnapped along with Princess Angelica, Zitz and Rash rush to the rescue.

Battletoads routinely shows up in Top Ten Lists of the hardest NES games, and is one of few titles where 2-player mode actually makes the game harder. While not the most difficult game ever produced at that time (Ninja Gaiden, Ghosts 'n Goblins and The Adventures of Bayou Billy were all keeping up), the amount of rote memorization demanded by Battletoads is extremely taxing on adult players, nevermind its target audience. As the NES generation grew older, Battletoads naturally became a font of memes, to the point where Kayin went on record claiming that his homebrew platformer, I Wanna Be the Guy, was a romhack of Battletoads and daring people to complete the game if they wanted to prove him a liar. The original is probably best remembered for its lascivious game over screen featuring the Dark Queen, who provided incentive (or rather, two of them) for frustrated gamers to keep bashing away at the game in hopes of meeting her in person.

Nintendo Power ran a comic based on the game that was divergent in several areas, which was later used as backstory for later incarnations of the franchise. There was also a failed pilot for a Battletoads Animated Adaptation which used a notably different backstory, one derived from magazine ads which ran for the game at the time.

While the game did have several sequels (including a Intercontinuity Crossover with Double Dragon and an arcade game that played as a straight Beat 'em Up), most of these were not nearly as popular, and for the most part only the original is remembered at all. Despite the rapid downturn of popularity — but not necessarily quality — of later entries, quite a few people still want to see the franchise revived. If you prefer a bit more tongue-in-cheek humor with your merchandise-driven game characters, see Earthworm Jim.


This series has examples of:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Terra Tubes.
  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: The toads wear some shin guards and bracers and nothing else. Subverts the classical trope to make them more Stripperiffic and dripping with testosterone.
  • Acrofatic: Big Blag is impossibly fast and agile for someone so morbidly obese, enough for him to try to crush the 'Toads under his weight.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Robo-Manus inexplicably becomes 76 feet tall and puts on six and a half tons for his appearance in the arcade game, as opposed to his considerably smaller appearances in the previous games.
  • Badass: So badass.
    • One could also make a case for the player who beats Battletoads.
  • Badass in Distress: In each of the games sans the arcade title and Double Dragon crossover, at least one Toad is captured by the villains.
  • The Baroness: The Dark Queen's leather leotard could be considered the game's true star.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The arcade game, which includes decapitations, vomiting and blood spills with every hit. You can even drill through downed rats if you're playing as Zitz.
  • Bloody Hilarious: The bloody and gory arcade game.
  • Boss Remix: The boss theme of the arcade game is a rearrangement of the first stage's theme.
  • Boss-Only Level: The final stage of the original game is merely the Dark Queen's arena. Oddly, you won't discover this unless you get a Game Over fighting the Dark Queen, as there's no transitional cut-scenes between The Revolution & The Armageddon.
  • Bottomless Pits: Particularly on the racing levels.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: in the original NES game, the Space Invader-esque creatures, if left alone, will steal pieces of your health bar and leave.
  • The Brute: Both Big Blag and General Slaughter.
  • Cap: Part of the difficulty lies in the limit of nine extra lives in some versions (not applicable to the NES and SNES versions, particularly as the second level is a perfect place to rack up more).
  • Captain Ersatz: Essentially a Jessica Rabbit clone spliced with Elvira, the Dark Queen is so haphazardly designed that her cowl isn't even connected to anything. (Nope, not even her neck. Look again.)
  • Chain Reaction Destruction: The first boss in Battlemaniacs.
  • Checkpoint Starvation: Even with infinite lives, the NES version is not a cakewalk due to this, especially in later levels such as Intruder Excluder and Terra Tubes. Then there's Level 11 (the ball of static) which has no checkpoints until the boss. The easier versions of Battletoads don't have more checkpoints, but the relaxed difficulty takes away from this trope.
  • Classic Video Game Screw Yous: The first level is nothing special, while the second level Wookie Hole is the first wake-up call, and the third level Turbo Tunnel actually has a pretty steady difficulty curve despite its infamous reputation. But then we get to a Slippy-Slidey Ice World filled with instant death spikes and sliding ice bricks with really nasty knockback, two much harder rehashes of Turbo Tunnel, and a Down the Drain level with instant-kill rubber duckies. You'll also have to deal with the brick wall that is Intruder Excluder, the mark where enemies kill you in two hits from then on, and the poison gas dispensers and vacuum-fans will just chop off a life instantly, not to mention the vertical Ratchet Scrolling. And to top it all off, an incredibly unfair boss with a Kaizo Trap. When you make it to Rat Race later on, the similar graphics lull you into a false sense of security; going back down should be much easier, right? Yeah, not in the slightest.
  • Co-Dragons: Robo-Manus and Big Blag. The intro to the first game even has the Dark Queen telling you to beat them before getting to her. Due to warps, however, you can actually beat the game without ever beating Big Blag.
  • The Coats Are Off: The Dark Queen in Battletoads & Double Dragon.
  • Color-Coded Multiplayer: The SNES and Arcade use these distinct colors to differentiate (other 2-player versions just use green and brown):
    • Green:Rash
    • Teal:Zitz
    • Brown:Pimple
  • Crosshair Aware
  • Cut Song: There's an unused song in the game's data, and can be found here. Its use is unknown.note 
  • Cyber Cyclops: Robo-Manus, in his earliest appearances.
  • Cyborg: Robo-Manus. This is most evident in the arcade game where he bleeds after his hands and brain are damaged despite being part machine.
  • Degraded Boss: A rare game to game example. General Vermin, originally a boss in the first Battletoads on Game Boy, was demoted to a Giant Mook in the arcade game.
  • Difficulty By Region: The Famicom version is much easier compared to its NES counterpart. The Genesis version, which was ported by a Japanese team, used the Famicom version as its base.
  • Difficulty Spike: As soon as you jump on the riders in level 3. Most people won't get past this thing (you must time your jumps exactly as the speed increases, to the point you've got fractions of a second to time it right.) And when you finally press on and beat it, you get another difficulty spike. And another. And another.
  • Distressed Dude: Unless you're playing the arcade game or one of the versions of the Double Dragon crossover, odds are one of the Battletoads has gotten himself captured.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: In Battlemaniacs, Pimple and Rash have different combos and finishing moves. In the arcade game, all three toads have different moves and attributes.
  • The Dragon: Robo-Manus.
  • Down the Drain: Terra Tubes, the ninth level of the NES game.
  • End Game Results Screen: The arcade game gives your mission time after the ending.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Princess Angelica is a princess for the sole reason of having a princess to save, apparently.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Given the difficulty, not terribly surprising. This also includes the second player thanks to uncontrollable moves and friendly fire. Later games had the option of turning friendly fire off; this doesn't help the SNES version, where player deaths during the racing, snake, and clinger winger levels force both restarting from the last check point.
    • Friendly fire isn't even close to the worst thing about two-player. Moving the screen too far up, or not jumping down at exactly the same time when there's a chasm you have to fall into with OHKO spikes on both sides and an icicle that makes you bounce upwards if it hits you, causing you to pull up the screen and kill your partner? If one of you runs out of lives, you're both kicked to the Game Over screen immediately, but the surviving player only keeps the lives they had? Two-player mode is just unbearable.
  • Excuse Plot: Save the Princess and its variations amount to what resembles plot in these games. Not that what plot there is particularly matters much.
  • Eye Scream: Stage 4 of the arcade game has enemies called Ugly Mugs that need to have their eyes knocked out before whacking them in their ugly mugs.
  • Final Boss: The Dark Queen and, in two games, Robo-Manus.
  • Finishing Move: Rather vivid ones for the time period, which contributed to the game's popularity.
  • Friendly Fire Index: All games in this series, except for the single-player only ones, are Category B.
    • Partly averted in the Arcade version. Although you can't attack each other, you can still use the giant club to squash a teammate, intentionally or by accident.
  • Frogs and Toads
  • From Bad to Worse: Just when you thought things couldn't possibly get any harder, the next level will prove you wrong. For as much as its difficulty gets brought up, the few hardass gamers who've passed the speeder bike challenge can vouch that it is most certainly not the hardest part of the game.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: The game is impossible in two-player mode because a bug prevents the second player from even moving when you reach the second-to-last level. This was fixed for the PAL version.
    • You can actually continue as the second player on stage 12 if you do if the second player presses start on the map screen. Assuming you have enough continues left.
    • Assuming you even get this far... The Angry Video Game Nerd had a field day in showing how much worse the two-player mode is.
    • In Rat Race, there's a chance that the rat might not fall down and send you to the next part of the level after you disarm a bomb. This leaves you stuck with no way to die, forcing you to reset(though this bug is only on the NES version, it dosen't appear on the, Gameboy, Gamegear or Genesis/Mega-Drive versions).
  • Gameplay Roulette
  • Goomba Stomp: Big Blag, Robo-Manus, General Slaughter, and the Hypno Orb can all do this to the player.
  • Groin Attack: General Vermin is an unfortunate victim of this.
  • Guest Fighter: Although Battletoads & Double Dragon is a cross over, the game engine is pure Battletoads game mechanics.
  • Hammered into the Ground: Some enemies can be driven to the ground by the Battletoads' attacks.
  • Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: Beating the bosses is generally much easier than getting to them. (Not having to go back to a checkpoint each time a boss kills you helps.)
  • Hell-Bent for Leather
  • High Collar of Doom: The Dark Queen always wears it during her pre-level taunts. The cape hovers inexplicably behind her at all times, regardless of which way she's facing.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: Player collision area is significantly smaller than player sprites.
  • Impossibly-Low Neckline: Dark Queen.
  • Infinite 1-Ups: It's pretty bad when the second stage has one and people still get stuck on the third level.
    • Terra Tubes almost has one. You can earn infinite points off the rubber duckies, earning an extra life every 100,000 points. However, there's a point cap, so it's not quite infinite.
    • Rat Race has one. Headbutting a rat will earn you 1,000 points, so you could do this over and over again on one of the longer platforms to earn extra lives, headbutting every time the rat turns around after reaching a wall. However, this is risky as if your timing is the slightest bit off, the rat will pass you, which may very well result in you losing a life.
  • Interface Screw: The first boss battle in the NES game.
  • Invincible Minor Minion: A few, most notably the duckies.
  • It's All Upstairs From Here: The final level is climbing the Dark Queen's tower.
  • Kaizo Trap: The Dark Queen does one final spin attack after you defeat her. If you happened to be standing in the center of the arena at the time, pray you weren't on one health and your last life...
  • Lampshade Hanging: The arcade game's ending goes out of its way to point out the Toads' suspiciously convenient teleportation devices that they just so happened to have on them.
  • Leap of Faith: Ad nauseam, especially in the Turbo Tunnel and Karnath's Lair.
  • Leather Man: Some of those outfits almost have to be more than just a little Hell-Bent for Leather Badass. In particular, The Dragons General Slaughter, General Vermin and Big Blag seem to get by with some increasingly heavily gaydar-tripping outfits, especially in the arcade game.
    • If you're not a furry, this isn't nearly as noticeable; most people are used to seeing anthropomorphic animals completely naked, after all.
  • Let's Play: One done by Diabetus who would later become known for working on Retsupurae with Slowbeef.
    • There's also a 4-way race between ProtonJon, NintendoCapriSun, P Cull 44444 and Super Jeenius.
    • Rawrzaur did a livestream of him beating the entire game on cart. No warps, no infinite lives, no savestates, 100% legit. By the time he reached the later levels, it was getting more and more obvious how the game's absurdity and artificial difficulty were taking a toll on his sanity. For those interested in watching it, he has uploaded the entire thing to his Youtube channel. The playlist can be found here.
  • A Load of Bull: General Slaughter.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Stage 4 of the arcade game features enemies named Snappa and Ugly Mug that will explode in a shower of blood when killed.
  • Marathon Level: In some levels, you're really starting to wonder when the level is going to end.
  • Mascot with Attitude: The titular 'toads, especially Rash (dig those shades!).
  • Medley: The music for the arcade game's second-to-last stage rather subtly weaves in the first four stage's themes.
  • Megaton Punch: Kiss My Fist, one of the Smash Hits.
  • The Millstone: If you're playing with a second player, chances are the two of you will be this to each other.
  • Minecart Madness
  • Misbegotten Multiplayer Mode: As pointed out by the AVGN.
  • Mission Control Is Off Its Meds: Professor T Bird will not hesitate to verbally tear you a new one if you get a game over.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: "I know that you are wise, handsome, noble members of your planet's race."
  • Nintendo Hard: The first game is widely considered one of, if not the hardest ever made (just the single player, as two player is broken). The sequels are only a tad easier.
    Phil Sandifer: Let me stress this, because it really bears mentioning. I cheated to play this game. I cheated heavily. And I could not beat it. The third to last level has a racing section that is as close to impossible as I have experienced in a video game. It is a festival of ruthless brutality.
  • Off with His Head!: In the arcade game, this occurs to Karnath and Robo-Manus after they're defeated. It can also happen to some of the rat enemies if they're killed with a jump attack.
  • Oh, Crap: When the toads have this reaction, it's boss fight time! They don't do this when they see vehicles though.
  • 108: There are 108 obstacles to dodge in the first hoverbike section. Appropriately.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Robo-Manus, most notably in the Gameboy game and Arcade game, is capable of fighting, even after losing a limb or two. In fact, in the Gameboy game, he can fight even after being decapitated.
  • Orcus on His Throne: The Dark Queen exists mainly to goad the player and hurl insults through Professor T's monitor. Interestingly, this is reflected even in the Queen's low sprite count: She barely moves, preferring to turn into a cyclone or (in the SNES version) hurl skulls while warping around the arena. In the arcade version, she appears as an apparition whilst observing the boss battle with Robo-Rat. She's a little more proactive in Battletoads & Double Dragon, engaging the Toads/Lees in fisticuffs.
  • Rearrange the Song: The Korpse Kount theme from the arcade game rather subtly remixes "Ragnarok's Canyon" from the first game.
  • Recycled Premise: Battlemaniacs for the SNES is similar to the NES original in terms of overall aesthetic, just with more polish.
    • In terms of gameplay, it's nearly identical to the arcade game.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: The song from the Ice Cavern level is very similar to another song from one of Rare's previous games, Digger T. Rock: The Legend of the Lost City.
  • Save the Princess: Not that they really explain what she's the princess of.
  • Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains: The Toads fall under Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal, so their clothes standard is lax, but even just comparing humans the Dark Queen's outfit is notably skimpier than Angelica's.
  • Serial Escalation: Put simply : How much more Nintendo Hard can this game get? Once you reach the third level, Turbo Tunnel, you might think there's no way the game can get any harder. But then you get to Karnath's Lair, also known as the Snake Pit. And then Volkmire's Inferno. And Terra Tubes. Then the Rat Race. And if you somehow manage to get past those too, there's still Clinger Winger. Considering most of the game is one ginormous obstacle course, it is theoretically possible to finish the game reliably if you memorize all the necessary movements by rote. It mainly gets less predictable during boss fights, like against Big Blag.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: Only for the SNES version (Battlemaniacs) — should anyone dare to hit a skeleton, it will vindictively chase after the offender and will beat it to death. It is entirely possible to leap out of the way of a skeleton's attack so it hits another, then stand back and watch the two fight to the finish. They will IGNORE the players until they've extracted their vengeance.
  • Shapeshifter Weapon: The toads morph their arms and legs into various weapons to attack. When they attack by butting enemies with their heads, their heads will sprout ram horns when they connect.
    • Later games attribute a style to each Toad. Battlemaniac establishes that Rash likes blades and spikes, while Pimple prefers blunt, heavy objects. The arcade game adds in that Zitz's favored attacks involve turning his limbs into machinery like drills and chainsaws.
  • Shared Life Meter: The second boss of the Game Boy version has a first form with one life bar, but requiring the player to destroy multiple turrets on it before moving on to the second form.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shows Damage: General Slaughter in the arcade game will receive cuts, broken horns, and a missing tooth as he takes damage.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World:
    • Arctic Caverns, the fourth level in the NES games.
    • The second level in the arcade game is similar to the NES ice level with snowmen and icy floors.
  • Spike Balls of Doom: Rather irregular ones, but they're there.
  • Spikes of Doom: Most notable in level 6, where almost the entire level was coated with them.
  • Springs Springs Everywhere: Especially during the final level.
  • Statuesque Stunner: The arcade game lists the Dark Queen's species as human and height as 6', although her appearances in the console games cast that in doubt. She utterly towers over the Battletoads.
  • Steam Vent Obstacle: Variation: the game has vents producing small puffs of poisonous gas that travel a short distance before dispersing harmlessly.
  • Stripperiffic:
    • The Dark Queen.
    • While we're at it, how about nearly every male character (particularly with Big Blag).
  • Swiss-Army Weapon: Robo-Manus, who is generally armed to the teeth with a variety of ranged weapons, including eye lasers, forearm-mounted blaster cannons, missile launchers, flamethrowers, and bombs, most of which are integrated into his cyborg body.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: You finish off Karnath by decapitating him and kicking his head like a giant soccer ball. Over-the-top brutal but he kinda deserves it.
  • Timed Mission: The Rat Race level; you have to beat an Invincible Minor Minion to the bottom of the stage (three times!), or you lose. A well-timed smack will delay him, however (and will make the runs much easier, if you can pull it off). It's possible to beat the rat to all the bombs without striking it once, but the rat is so fast, you need to perfect the third run, because it falls faster and moves faster than you do.
    • Technically speaking, you can kill him. Just let him get into the room with the bomb (but make sure you get there first) and kick the bomb out. He will flip over, and if you manage to ram him twice before he leaves the screen, you will end up kicking him out just like the other rats, the "level beaten" ditty plays, and you fall through the floor (but beat the level nonetheless).
    • Snake Pit, Intruder Excluder, and Terra Tubes stand out in the Genesis version (which relaxes the challenge a lot overall).
    • The bonus stage in the arcade game has you destroying a jet within 99 seconds. The player that kicks it offscreen gets a 50 kills termination bonus.
  • Theme Naming: The main characters are named for skin disorders, which is a reference to the old wives' tale that touching frogs and toads gave you skin problems. (It doesn't.)
  • Threatening Shark: The Sharks in Terra Tubes swim really quickly, can combo you to death in a matter of seconds, can traverse through the spikes that will instantly kill you, can knock you INTO those spikes and take an absurd amount of hits to kill.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Most of the obstacles are based on a pattern, and learning them is key to get through the game.
  • Ultra Super Death Gorefest Chainsawer 3000: The arcade game, when you think about it. The finishers are gorier, the end level score result is called "Korpse Kount" (probably a nod to Mortal Kombat), and there is a little more adult and dirty humor. The only reason this game probably passed the Moral Guardians' radars was because games like Doom and Mortal Kombat were taking all the heat during the 90s.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The vehicle levels, which is part of why they're most frequently cited as That One Level.
  • Unexpected Shmup Level: The final level of the arcade game plays like a rail shooter with the Battletoads shooting from the roof of their cruiser through an aircraft leading up to a battle with Robo-Manus.
  • The Unfought: The Dark Queen is never encountered as a boss in the Game Boy or arcade games. Robo-Manus takes her place as the final boss of both of those games.
    • Silas Volkmire in Battlemaniacs, though you get a chance to try and shoot down his escape ship IF you beat the game.
  • Unwinnable by Mistake: The game is unwinnable from the start if you select the co-op function in the NTSC version of the game. Once you reach level 11 (as mentioned in the Game-Breaking Bug section), player two's clinger-winger doesn't even move, which means the boss of the level always runs you over. Rinse and repeat until you run out of lives (you can just continue on your own after player 2 is gone).
  • Valley Girl: Battletoads is rightly famous, but not for its deep canon or characterization. That said, what little we see of the Dark Queen suggests a spoiled brat who just happens to command armies and possess magic.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Although every Battletoads game has this, the Arcade version is the most noteworthy example.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Swat Rats in the arcade game puke when they stand up after being knocked down.
  • Welcome to Corneria: Inverted. The intra-level NPC text is different from game-to-game.
  • A Winner Is You: The ending is somewhat of a letdown, but that's to be expected. After the punishment that this game dishes out, even the most awesome ending in the world would still feel like a letdown (not to say they didn't phone it in anyway, though).
  • You Dirty Rat: The Dark Queen's Mooks known as the Mutant Ratpack, lead by Big Blag.
  • You Don't Look Like You: Robo-Manus, whose appearance and size (and abilities) tends to change rather drastically in each game with only a few key features remaining intact.
  • Your Size May Vary:
    • Robo-Manus goes from being at least twice as tall as the 'Toads in the first game and Double Dragon crossover to over 76 feet tall in the arcade game.
    • Big Blag is either twice as large as the 'Toads as seen in the Game Boy game and crossover or a head taller in the first game, although the arcade game shows that he can enlarge himself to squash the 'Toads.
    • The Dark Queen is stated to be 6 feet tall in the arcade game, meaning she's supposedly smaller than the 'Toads.note  However, in all cases where she's fought directly, she's either twice as tall or slightly shorter than Pimple who's the tallest Battletoad.

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alternative title(s): Battletoads
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