Notorious for it’s difficulty on the Nintendo Entertainment System, the original Battletoads saw a few sequels here and there, including the most recent back in 2020 on the Xbox One. However, did you know there was an arcade exclusive Battletoads game?
Aptly named Battletoads (sometimes called Super Battletoads or simply Battletoads Arcade), this version of the game is what you’d expect from an arcade game in the mid-90s: 3-player beat’em up action! Actually, I think this is the first 3-player Battletoads game, as the previous NES and Game Boy entries only allowed up to two.
The gameplay didn’t do anything revolutionary, but it was pretty damn violent. From the very first level I noticed there was blood coming out of enemies, and some visceral carnage I honestly wasn’t expecting from what I thought to be a pretty tame series. The game also incorporates a variety of level types: kind of like the TMNT arcade games, there are stages where you are on vehicles, mixing up the action just a bit. Notably, I didn’t find that all too challenging: the normal difficulty of not having enough quarters isn’t a problem when the cabinet is set to free play.
Visually the game is impressive. A cartoony style clashes with the blood and carnage on screen, but it still works. The backgrounds and enemy characters, bosses in particular, standout as highlights. Some of the normal enemy designs are kind of bland, but you’ll be having too much fun kicking and delivering axe handles to really notice. The arcade cabinet itself features a neon green outline and side art of the game’s logo.
Speaking of cabinets, I didn’t even know this one existed until I saw it in Galloping Ghost. Looking up the game, I found it to be fairly rare. Low sales and poor performance upon release lead to Rare putting the entire franchise on hiatus, as making Rare reevaluate their entire arcade financial plan. Thankfully the game did eventually see a home console port on the compilation Rare Replay, which is likely the first place the vast majority of gamer’s experienced this hidden title.