When Record Tracks Need To Change: The Story of Battletoads

1-Battletoads_1Many games go through several phases of record hunting. Some games like Super Mario Bros. have hundreds of competitors competing for the smallest little frame to get the World Record. Some, like Ninja Gaiden III: The Dark Sword of Chaos, have one great run and then pretty much fall off in some categories. Well, this article is going to cover one of the most interesting cases of them all: Battletoads

Why is Battletoads so played despite it being so hard?

If you’re a classic NES gamer you’ve at least heard of this game in passing. It usually makes the top 10 lists of hardest games excluding classic arcade games on a regular basis. Many people have braved to play this game, many have failed. The Turbo Tunnel, Stage Three in the game, has been routinely voted one of the hardest stages to ever exist in a video game. On the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) version (later fixed on the Rare Replay version), the Clinger Winger unicycle stage has a glitch that prevents the second player from completing the stage.

Despite these comings, the game has driven a passionate fanbase that seems to keep growing and growing for some reason. I have somewhat of an interest, I can max out the score virtually on any setting, once under Twin Galaxies settings which disallow multiple 1-up collection, multiple times under unlimited settings, while only beating the game one time ever. I usually get too frustrated at not being able to complete the game to keep playing it for long periods of time. But there are some people that keep playing it, and playing it, and playing it, and some even says it gets easy and routine over time. These people are also very active on YouTube, and regularly post videos.

Also, not recognized by most sites, people are creating horrendous glitch runs that show how memory can be corrupted and still played and improvised on the NES. This glitch division in speedruns has also garnered quite an interest, and ironically, can be very entertaining to watch. However, you have to keep in mind this can potentially break your cartridge and can be very very expensive on a real NES. Still, people do it.

battletoadsNow where’s the problem lie?

The problem with Battletoads is that there are a lot of people daring its difficulty to do amazing things. On TwinGalaxies site alone, there are 11 people who have completed it on Twin Galaxies Tournament Settings (the standard settings). There have been reports of many maxouts on RetroAchievements on emulator on unlimited settings. So yes, there is probably a need to change the rules here, as the meaning of having the top world record is getting diluted, and getting a max score is only an achievement.

Two Possible Solutions

There have been various ideas of how to fix this problem. I will discuss the two I have come across:

There is the RecordSetter way of handling it, where the maxout is timed and the time to maxout is taken. This also adds an element of speedrunning and planning to it; however, this allows abuse of 1-ups and could have infinite loops.

There is also the TwinGalaxies Extreme Settings, which allow for one life only. This completely eliminates 1-up loops, forcing you to progress through the game in order to pick up points, knowing multiple areas and strategies. Still, there is a possible case for leeching, especially on the rubber ducks in Level 9.

What’s the best solution?

I really don’t know honestly. Something needs to change, with the number of people hitting maxout probably hitting about one hundred, especially after the Rare Replay release. I don’t know if there’s a best choice. Each has their pros and cons. Either way, both will cause players to get sharper and more fine-tuned with their game choices and make it harder. And in the case of arguably the hardest game of all time outside of classic arcade games, it is a fitting challenge.


Copyright 2012 Beazley Entertainment
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