During a recent interview with Rare fan site RareFanDaBase, video game engineer and producer Paul Machacek spoke on a number of things which have occurred during his time with the company. A veteran of 30 years, he’s seen a lot — including things that most fans will probably never see.
One such hidden treasure is a Game Boy port of Super Battletoads, also known as Battletoads Arcade or simply Battletoads (and not to be confused with the 1993 Super Nintendo Entertainment System release, Battletoads in Battlemaniacs). This wasn’t just a game that had been cancelled partway through — it was done, finished. One-hundred percent complete. And it never saw the light of day.
The reason for this, he explains, is that the arcade game had underperformed in its 1994 release. Despite being published by Electronic Arts, it was apparently the franchise’s console publisher Tradewest who decided to pull the plug not just on this port, but on the entire franchise.
Personally speaking, I had long lamented the fact that Super Battletoads never got a home port because, quite frankly, it was everything I had ever wanted from a Battletoads game, and then some. The original NES, Super NES, and Game Boy games initially trick you into thinking it’s something of an alternative to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles style of arcade brawler, but then it starts to throw all sorts of other things at you almost immediately: Killer platforming challenges, the dreaded progress-halting Turbo Tunnel in the third stage, and in the case of the NES original, even a bug that prevents two players from completing the game (which is hard enough as it is, as either player dying sends both back to the last checkpoint).
But Super Battletoads? That game is a bit different, and in all the right ways:
Super Battletoads is almost pure brawler, with gorgeous graphics, great music, and a slightly more “mature” edge than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles product of the time, or even what Rare had been able to get away with on the NES and Super NES to that point. The attacks are more brutal, there’s a little bit of blood here and there, and even the Dark Queen was just a little more titillating than before. Oh, and all three Toads were playable — something only Battletoads/Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team managed to allow during their home-based tenure.
It’s really the sort of experience Battletoads arguably should have been all along, and that some may home the upcoming Xbox One title will be. Of course, it could be argued whether or not the Battletoads would be remembered much at all today if they hadn’t instead provided a tossed salad of varied, nigh-impossible experiences that frustrated a generation.
Fortunately, if you’re an Xbox One owner, you can try both the original NES game and the arcade title together and compare for yourself, as it was finally brought to a home platform over 20 years after its release in arcades as part of 2015’s Rare Replay collection — a highlight of the package for some, and even a driving factor in purchasing it for others (i.e. me).
If you’re interested in the full interview, you can see what else Machacek has to say about his experiences at Rare (there’s plenty more) here.
Source: RareFanDaBase, via Kotaku