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I've got a bone to pick with Rare. As far as I know, the studio's most popular NES game, Battletoads, consisted of only three levels. The first was a straight beat-em-up. You walked to the right and beat the snot out of giant bipedal pigs and walker robots. In the second level, you rappelled down a pit. The third level, Turbo Tunnel, was the end of the line. You jumped on a motorbike, and you sped to the right down this two-lane road, swerving up and down to avoid colored walls. Only you couldn't avoid them for long because one instant they were materializing and the next you had pancaked against them.

I've never finished that game. Word has it that there might even be more than three levels. But I don't care. My bone is with Turbo Tunnel, a level I still can't beat, and that's because it's really not that fair. Even if your reflexes are sharper than the edges of an NES controller, the motorbikes don't move fast enough to avoid walls that appear quick as a blink. Elektron Games developed Toad Rider [Free] as an homage to (and probably as way to seek closure from) that infamous 8-bit crucible that hastened my education in four-letter words.

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The developers at Elektron Games started out using the admittedly niche concept of speeding down a tunnel cramped with obstacles as an inspiration, but improved on the blueprint Rare drafted in the early '90s. You to pilot a motorbike that speeds to the right, changing between lanes to avoid a flurry of colored walls, panes of glass, pits, beds of spikes, and other hazards. Here, unlike in Battletoads, obstacles are introduced at an even pace, one that challenges you without making you cry foul.

Each type of obstacle requires a different reaction: swipe to the right to bash through glass walls head-on; tap the screen to jump over lasers; swipe up and down to switch lanes; and so on. Crucially, Toad Rider' controls respond with alacrity. You snap rather than drift to a new lane. That responsiveness comes into play when the game starts throwing lots of different obstacles at you in rapid succession, such as a pursuer you can only shake by driving straight at a wall and then shooting off to another lane before he has time to follow.

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By the time the game's tricks flow into a confluence of deathtraps that come rushing at you, you feel ready. The game's controls mesh with a reaction time you were able to build up gradually. I quickly grew comfortable enough with the controls that I used both thumbs to play: with my left thumb I swiped to change lanes and dash forward, while my right thumb tapped the screen continually to rack up extra points for double jumps.

When you inevitably wipe out, IAP puts on the brakes. You need diamonds to pick up where you left off, and the cost of continues climbs as you push deeper and deeper into the game. You can't buy diamonds with in-game currency, but you do pick up coins along the way that enable you to buy instant-starts on some of the later levels, as well as power-ups like shields and coin magnets, so focusing on upgrades over diamonds is a viable way to enjoy the game without spending any real money.

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I love that gaming has ripened to the point where developers can take a concept from a game that influenced their passion for the hobby, polish that concept, and flesh it out into its own thing. Toad Rider puts a fun, challenging, and fair spin on one of gaming's most notorious levels that any fan of endless runners should enjoy.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • JCho133

    I really enjoy this, it turned out very polished :)

    • shadax

      Really? Maybe I should give it another shot, but it really felt like a basic endless runner. Magnets and gems and really nothing new brought at all.

      And it's paid. I was a bit pissed about it.

      • shadax

        I should add that it felt like a run of the mill usually FREE runner. It's paid and has all the same IAP bullcrap. Coin doubler etc. and the progression didn't feel much different either.

        And am I crazy or does the coin pickup sound suspiciously identical to temple run?

      • ElektronGames

        We really recommend you give it another try! As we mentioned before, don't judge the game from the first levels. It gets really fun and challenging starting from level 4.

        Please read our comment above regarding the coin rate and IAPs. And no, the coin sound has nothing to do with temple run :)

  • Ederfb

    Lol! Battletoads for the NES consists of more than 3 levels... Sad that you never went further into the game, as it was getting better and harder. And each levels was presenting something new. I do agree that the jetski level was fun... I'll have to give a look at this game! 1
    $1... Man, were would I find that much money!!? :P

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      Are you sure there are more than three levels?

      • oooooomonkey

        Gamefaqs says there was 12 levels

      • OmKol

        13 levels. If you get game over and use continue while battle vs Dark Queen you will see "Level 13: Armageddon".

  • Nick

    As someone who played Battletoads endlessly, this level alone is one of the most frustratingly irritating levels in any game ever.

    It was cheap, frustrating and the only positive thing about it was the feeling you got when it was over and completed. It seems you never played the original, which is a shame. Even for a dollar, this level was a one trick pony that aimed for making you life miserable, and setting you up for even harder parts of the game.

    Combine that with the fact that it would have taken you 3 seconds to search and confirm that there were well more than that and, well... Okay then. The best thing about Battletoads was the fact that it changed things up constantly. It was interesting, complex and amazing. This is like taking the Mako scavenging missions from Mass Effect and making a game around them.

    • David L Craddock

      Whoa. Guys. I know there are more than 3 levels in Battletoads. I was only making that point that little-kid me wasn't able to get past level 3 and see what else the game had to offer, so smashing high scores in Toad Rider is cathartic and a form of retribution on my painful 8-bit childhood.

      • Aerach

        Aka ./thejoke

  • Phil_Lapineau

    You can jump over those walls in Battletoads, and there was a warp portal right near the beginning of the "fast" sequence, so you could skip the hardest part of that level.

  • Echoen

    I noticed various reviews don't really mention anything on performing tricks to play the high-scoring game.

  • anabolicMike

    I would never purposely play a game like this. I used to hate this level on BT for NES. You know how much time and effort I, as a 6 year old, spent on this level itself? No man. This game is like bringing a nightmare to life. It's like adding that laughing dog from duck hunt to every game ever. No. Just....... No

  • ElektronGames

    Developer here, thanks for the review David! really glad that you've liked it. We've tried our best to add our own twists and new concepts while ensuring that the controls are responsive and work well with touchscreen and we're really happy with the end result. Levels 1 to 3 will get you used to the concepts of the game, but the real challenge and action kicks in with level 4 and 5. The farther you reach in the game, the more it becomes exciting!

    The coin rate in the game is really high. Once you get good at the game, you will end up with more than 3000 coins per session, sometimes even more than 5000. We had a lot of beta testers that maxed the upgrades in a few days without paying anything, so the IAPs are really optional in that area. As for the gems, we're working on an update that will decrease the cost of revives and will increase the rate of gems appearing throughout gameplay so it becomes much more fair :)

  • MrSpud

    I finished Battletoad! Now, I can't get more than 5 points at Flappy Bird!! Somehow as you get older you get worse at videogames, reflexes just aren't the same. The only way to pass the third level was by memorizing the track, looking ahead didn't really work, and a bit of luck!

  • lancheta

    "that infamous 8-bit crucible that hastened my education in four-letter words." Classic

  • DAVE KNOX

    Dude, you suck so hard.
    How can a game with worse characters (or in this case character), worse music, dumbed down intensity, only one kind of level, and a concept ripped off from a game that was 23 years ahead of it, POSSIBLY even approach being AS GOOD as its source?
    Battletoads had 13 completely unique levels, (yes, they get even harder than the Turbo Tunnel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3vbfsAFAgU) awesome style, and it spawned an entire franchise of games that were always much better than the competition.
    Level up your skill, and play a real game.

    • David L Craddock

      Hey, I was, like, 9 years old!

  • trazer

    I guess no one actually gets the humor the article was written in, I feel bad for the author actually having to explain that he knows there are more than three levels!

    I too think I only made it to level 5-6 myself. That was what the game genie was for btw... Anyway, battletoads was awesome, that is all.

  • Smjpo Knfyl

    m.freemyapps. com/share/url/1db90364

  • http://www.AncientBeast.com/ Dread Knight

    All you had to do near the end of the Turbo Tunnel was to jump 2 times on a row, switch row and then repeat. Really simple and guaranteed pattern.

Toad Rider Reviewed by David Craddock on . Rating: 4