2020 has been a weird year, to say the least. With no end to the COVID-19 pandemic in sight, entertainment has become more important than ever. Fortunately, the new Battletoads remake is the perfect game for this moment, just like every single other game we’ve reviewed during quarantine.
Dlala Studios’ new Battletoads game isn’t simply a slick, colorful brawler that modernizes a rusty cult classic. By releasing the game in the midst of a global health crisis, Battletoads becomes a much needed trip down memory lane. As I revisited the classic motorbike level, I couldn’t help but think about my childhood; a carefree time where I wasn’t trying to shoehorn every piece of media I consumed under the lens of completely unrelated current events.
It’s the kind of experience that anxious players could use right now, similar to Animal Crossing: New Horizons. In our review of that game, we noted that, “Animal Crossing comes at exactly the right time; when we could all use a calm, desert island getaway.” We less convincingly made the same case in our Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics review, where we said the Switch game was “a bold reminder that you should own board games, because you never know when you will be stuck inside.”
Even with its gentle escapism, it’s hard to fully forget the grim reality that we face today. When I choose Rash from the character select screen, I’m instantly reminded of the horrible disease killing thousands of people in America every day. I’m not actually sure if rashes are a symptom of the coronavirus, but there’s no doubt that it’s a tone deaf inclusion on the developers’ part.
It’s the same achilles’ heel that caused us to sour on games like The Last of Us Part 2 and Resident Evil 3 over the past 6 months. While these are undoubtedly polished AAA titles that we would have loved at literally any other time, I can’t play them without imagining what it would be like to shoot my own COVID-ridden grandmother in the face with a pistol.
Despite some unfortunate reality checks, Battletoads is the pinnacle of quarantine escapism. Hopefully the pandemic ends soon, because I have to write a PGA Tour 2K21 review soon and I have no idea how to frame that one. Are golf courses open right now? Maybe it can be about how Trump is golfing instead of passing relief payments. Yeah, okay, I can work with that.
Check out our comedy podcast The Video Game Super Show! Show, in which two of our editors watch and discuss every episode of 1989’s Captain N: The Game Master: