Game Center CX Season 15 – Back to Contents
Continue Battling On, Toad Warrior! – "Battletoads"
When we last left Arino, he was a little less than halfway through the infamous NES platformer Battletoads, slowly jumping and climbing his way through the Snake Pit stage. When we rejoin him for his episode, he’s still trying to get through the fourth "room" of the pit, where the giant robot snakes slither up, down and all around a stage dotted with clusters of spikes. He’s wasted his last continues, so he’s forced to replay the entire game up to this point, which takes about 40 minutes this time. We get back to the fourth room, where two block platforms are right by the entrance. Arino quickly (and without slipping off this time) perches himself on the highest one, waiting for another snake to come by, because there’s a small spike hurdle ahead.
Up comes a snake, but it’s too high to jump to. Arino’s stumped, and absentmindedly jumps back down onto the spikes. After a few more slip-ups, he gets a Game Over and restarts the stage. On the next try, he finally realizes he needs to hop over those spikes, land on the traveling snake below, then follow it until it retreats to its hole. That’s not so hard, and he makes it to the next few snakes without incident. But then one curls up in between two spike clumps that Arino climbs right into.
This becomes another serial failure, as Arino tries to jump ahead of the snake so that he can bypass the spikes, but that requires some timing that he may not possess. On his last continue of this round, he sits on the snake as it slithers past… and then falls right off onto some other spikes. But he still has some lives left, so on the attempt after that, he hangs onto the side of the snake and drops down as it finally circles past the spikes, and he safely lands on the snake as it exits. But if only that were the end.
A couple more snakes jut out, and Arino successfully jumps on all but the last red one, who catches him off-guard by immediately diving down, and sending Arino down onto spikes. And that was the last life! After yet another trek through the game, Arino makes it back to the red snake, and takes another flying leap as it travels down, only to watch himself land right on spikes again. Finally, he makes it, and wouldn’t you know it, that was the last snake before the goal! Arino leaps in and ends that nightmare.
Stage 7 starts with some normal beat-em-up gameplay, until it transforms halfway through. Arino runs up to find two little jets, which means, oh god, it’s another high-speed obstacle course! he hops on, and immediately runs into the first electrified gate that pops up. Opening jitters, though, don’t worry — he eventually gets the hang of what to do: just fly through the gaps in the electric beams, as usual. most of them slowly close, though, so he has to dart through them quickly.
After a round of that, the flight enters a field of missiles that fly up and then travel down onto Arino’s head. They’re pretty fast, so you might think Arino panics, but hekeeps smiling as he tries to dodge the missiles as they come down. He’s not succesful by any stretch, though, and once again wastes all his continues.
To cope with the missiles on the next go-around, Arino starts counting them as they appear, perhaps hoping that as long as he gets past the eight or nine in a wave, he’ll be fine. It seems to work, because he makes it through that section and hits the next checkpoint. But then he has to get through more electric beams. He almost gets past all of them, but a second wave starts opening and closing the beams faster, which repeatedly kill him. After losing another continue, he says this has got to be the most interesting game he’s played in 2011.
He gets past that troublesome wave of beams and hits the next checkpoint, but then the jets speed up even faster, and the beam gates blink on the other side of the screen as a warning before shooting past Arino. As long as he positions himself correctly, he’s fine. Arguably, it’s easier than the last part, and indeed, he gets past it on that same try, and that ends the stage!
Stage 8 is the Intruder Excluder, a vertical climb up a heavily-guarded mechanical tower. Sentry bots repeatedly shoot lasers, and blobby enemy things ("tempura" as Arino calls them upon first sight) hop and attach themselves to him. It’s enough to kill him again, and waste his final continue of that round.
Arino trudges back to stage 8, though by now he has only one continue left (again!). As he continues climbing, he’s damaged by more obstacles like super-powered fans that suck him towards them, and gas puffers that take a bit of health, too. Finally, he reaches the top and faces the boss, Robo Manus, a high-powered cyborg with a gun that fires some heavy-hitting rounds. Arino’s killed within seconds, and tries again with his last continue.
He makes it back to the boss, and properly ducks to avoid Robo-Manus’ bullets. Unfortunately, Manus also jumps around and flattens Arino if/when he lands on him. And that’s what erases his last continue again. Believe it or not, the challenge has only been about 10 hours so far. Yes, that is a little low for this show.
Arino engages Robo-Manus once more, and this time, he more properly avoids his bullets and counterattacks with some big headbutts. Unfortunately, he’s squashed once, and that seems to throw him off, though he’s still in the game. By continuing to punch when Robo-Manus is open, he manages to defeat the boss!
Stage 9 is next; the Terra Tubes. A maze of giant pipes makes movement limited, especially when enemies and obstacles are placed all over. And little propellers you grab onto help you float past zig-zag patterns of spikes (Arino loses his first continue from that exercise). Plus, pools of water slow down your movement, something that Arino thinks is kind of odd if this is a game about amphibians. But the biggest pain in the neck are the giant gears: once Arino walks by them, they immediatley drop down and roll towards him, immediately flattening him. He has to keep running and keep his distance from them until he reaches a wall at the end of the section that the gear will bust down, either directly or not. Of course, Arino doesn’t know all that the first time, so he jumps right up into a gear and flattens himself. But after that, the chase is on! He makes it to the end of the first run and hops into a pool at the end, but that’s actually where the gear stops, so he loses another life from ignorance (something that Battletoads positively feeds on).
The next attempt goes fine, but then it’s immediately on to the next one, where Arino is flattened at the last second, and over and over again until Game Over. Since there’s nowhere he can perch himself on this one, he has to jump just before the gear runs into the corner. On the next attempt, he nails it.
The next gear run is mostly lined with water, making it tough to stay ahead of the gear. After a couple of deaths, Arino tries jumping in and out of the water to maintain momentum, and it works! And luckily, he gets past the next gear perfectly. Everything seems done with the gears — time for a section with more swimming and navigating spikes. Arino starts off well, but then reaches the next section after it and falls into a pattern of deaths. Before long, the last continue is spent.
And then, for the first time in this challenge, AD Takahashi enters the scene. His cardigan is extra tacky this time, which amuses Arino. But Takahashi’s here to help: he takes the reins and shows Arino that he can ease the pain of going back through the entire game. In stage 1, he moves fast and quickly leaps into a pulsating area that activates a "mega warp" — he skips two stages! Next, in the Turbo Tunnel, he hits another secret spot and warps past another two stages. In stage 5, another warp; another in stage 6. In around 15 minutes, Takahashi has got Arino back where he left off. The question is… where was he several hours ago?
Nevertheless, Arino takes over again and tries to get through the swimming sections again. He gets nipped by tiny sharks, but Takahashi says he can just easily hit them. But then, at the end of that section, another gear appears! This time Arino has to swim his way ahead of the gears, though it’s fairly brief, and not as difficult.
In the next section, Arino’s assaulted by an evil rubber ducky, and after some more platforming and spike-avoiding, he reaches the goal — actually, he dies next to the goal, but the "end" tune played, so he makes it scot-free.
Stage 10 is next, the Rat Race. It resembles the Intruder Excluder, only this time Arino is going down, not up. It’s straightforward at first, but then, a rat enemy appears and starts dashing to the bottom. He leaves the screen, and then Arino dies a short time later. The rat is Giblet, and the point of Rat Race is to beat him to the bottom of the section and destroy his bundle of dynamite before he reaches it, or else it’s lights out.
Arino books it on the second try, and luckily the level layout makes it easy to fall down to the bottom. But sadly, Giblet still wins because Arino turned the wrong way after the final platform –so it was on the left, then. He finally gets it right on the next attempt, landing a boot in the dynamite.
But of course, the stage isn’t done yet. Arino faces Giblet again, and the course is a little trickier, naturally. The rat gets way ahead and Arino dies before he even gets a chance to catch up. On the next chance he almost loses it again, but amazingly he catches up to Giblet… but still dies, because this time the bomb was on the right. Ahem. Arino restarts the stage, but doesn’t even win the first section this time. This goes on for a couple more tries, but soon he gets back to the second section. Arino once again pulls ahead of Giblet and destroys the second bomb. A third section follows, but he dies from a gas vent before Giblet even shows up.
On his last life of this round, Arino sprints ahead of Giblet in the third section, but the rat passes him. Arino scrambles, passes him again, and slips through to the bomb — but Giblet’s too close behind, so he touches the bomb before Arino gets there! After that, producer Kan presents him with a headband that has "victory" written on it. Do or die!
Arino gets to the third section again, and tightens up his game, slipping by the platforms a llittle faster, but chokes on one spot and ends up dying. After another failure, the continues are all gone. Takahashi suggests playing the two-player mode on the next try, but Arino makes them too slow to catch the warp early on. Nevertheless, the two continue through the next few stages, but after dying in stage 3, Arino is finally handed the clock. It’s almost 1 AM, but Arino wants to get to the ending, so a second day is scheduled.
On day two, AD Takahashi is waiting for Arino. He’s prepared the game by pausing at that third section of stage 10, and before leaving, places that headband on the desk. Arino ties it on again, and this time, "victory" will mean something. Maybe.
He begins the game, but fails badly on the first and second tries, and that spends one continue (Takahashi only had two lives). He goes back through the stage to the third section, and this time, after another heart-pounding race… Arino still loses, and he was within a frame of striking the bomb before Giblet touched it!
And then, Arino’s first missed continue of 2012: While he was complaining about that last loss, the continue timer ran out. Takahashi walks back in to warp Arino back to stage 10, though, so it’s not so bad anymore. Once more, he gets through that third section, and finally whacks the bomb. That’s the last race, but then Arino falls down to face the true boss: General Slaughter. This big bull stands totally still, and when Arino gets close, he just gets super-headbutted into submission. He dies, though at least he gets through the race part faster.
General Slaughter keeps juggling Arino in the air, losing lives each time, until Arino finally headbutts him to counterattack, which works, and finally gets Slaughter moving. Of course, now Arino has to keep it up without getting hit. Just as he’s getting the hang of it, he’s flattened and killed. The next attempt is no less stressful, as Slaughter starts darting back and forth across the arena. But in a miraculous turnaround, Arino gets up from being flattened and whacks Slaughter, finally killing him.
The next stage immediately confuses Arino: another chase level, but this time with weird unicycle things, and avoiding a big swirly ball (the Hypno-Orb)? Arino dies instantly, and sadly, that was the end of the continue, so Takahashi has to warp all the way back. When Arino returns to stage 11, the point of the stage becomes clearer: arrows on the track indicate which direction to push on the controller, and it’s important to take corners quickly, because the orb always catches up on straightaways.
Luckily, Arino gets to the end after a couple of tries, though that just means he must now face the orb in a one-on-one fight. The orb bounces around like mad, and Arino gets a Game Over, but after that he just whacks it whenever he can, and that’s just about all there is to it.
At last, the final stage of Battletoads is upon us! Arino must now make the long, long climb up the Dark Queen’s tower, which is dotted with small platforms and all sorts of dumb enemies to make life hard. First he has to beat an enemy just to keep going up, then it’s springboard platforms that make it hard to keep control. Then, it’s some sort of disembodied blowhard that blows powerful gusts of wind at Arino that can kill him easily. After another Game Over, Takahashi fights his way back through the game and gets Arino back to the tower.
After more losses on Arino’s end, he’s down to his last continue again. On the very last try, he gets farther than ever, and the blowhard starts blowing from the foreground. Arino must grab onto poles sticking out of the wall to hang on, but on the second one, he misses landing on a moving platform and spends that last life. Though it’s the final stage, it’s already late afternoon, and the sun will be gone soon. And it definitely is once Takahashi plays through the game again.
Arino fares better getting up the poles, but they’re becoming fewer and farther in between, so timing is critical. More gusting jerks follow him upward, but he still has a few lives left. He reaches the last two rungs of the tower, by either luck or will — who knows? But before long, he’s warped up to the top to fight the final boss, the Dark Queen.
It all comes down to this! The Queen tends to spin around into a whirlwind that flies all around the screen and hits pretty hard, but Arino quickly learns he can hit her when she pauses on the ground. He still has to avoid her as a whirlwind, though, and continues to get pounded repeatedly. He loses that round and continues. Expecting the worst, he starts off right at the last boss battle! (Hey, the game’s not all evil.)
Arino tries camping in the corner to avoid the Queen, but she’s too smart for that. He continues hitting her when she’s open, and after she pounds the ground once, he headbutts her for what seems to be the final hit. And it is! A cut-scene plays, and though the Dark Queen lives to fight another day, so does Arino. After 23 combined hours, Battletoads is complete, and surely the worst is behind us. Right? Either way, there’s no better way to ring in 2012.
Another Nintendo favorite is in this installment: the Famicom Robot, also known as R.O.B.! The stationary bug-eyed robot receives instructions via onscreen flashes, and can pick up and place palstic trinkets that activate levers that push the buttons on the second controller. The staff has a few of the Robots, and Kibe calls in AD Takahashi to set it up, because they have a tendency to break, so being delicate is important.
And the game Arino will try it out with is one of two whole Robot games: Gyromite, a.k.a. Robot Gyro. In it, you control the little professor trying to collect dangerous dynamite while avoiding enemies, but is often impeded by columns that need to be lowered or raised with the robot’s help. Takahashi starts by showing Arino how to use the robot commands, and then the first stage begins. The robot places a top on the button plungers, slowly lowering the first few columns.
But then it seems to stop operating, so Arino’s stuck and is killed by an incoming enemy. On the next try, eveything goes as planned, and the first stage is complete. On the next stage, Arino tries to cheat by reaching over to the other controller, but Takahashi blocks him. It’s just not as fun that way, right?! Takahashi is hilariously protective. Arino completes the next stage the proper way, and thus ends our playtime with Robot. Er, R.O.B. Whatever.