OILD Day 3 – Big Arctic Cavern

It’s Day 3 of Obligatory Ice Level Day! As I mentioned, this year’s theme is “colors”. Everyone knows that the traditional holiday colors for the season are red and green, and those very colors show up in Obligatory Ice Level Day! But did you know that green and red represent amphibians and the blood of their enemies? It’s true! That’s why today’s ice level is the Big Arctic Cavern, from the arcade Battletoads!

ice-battletoads-arcadeBattletoads. Just the name is enough to scare off a lot of players. Made as both a competitor and a parody of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Battletoads has all the hallmarks of crazy 90s video game series; animal mascots with attitudes, hordes of mutants, cartoony ultra-violence, outer space locales, and a plot that essentially just mashed together every weird idea the designers had. The games are also infamously, terrifyingly difficult. Want a challenge? Definitely try Battletoads! The plot to every game was essentially the same; the Battletoads would fight their way through an army of robots and mutants in a quest to defeat the Dark Queen, a lady who was dressed like if Elvira was on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.  The arcade version was not simply a port of the NES game though. It had its own unique levels, enemies, music, and bosses. Sadly, the final game feels kind of unfinished, as it’s clearly missing a few bosses, the ending is a text dump, and some of the art gets a little… wonky. Still, if you’ve never tried it out and want to push yourself to the absolute limit, find an arcade cabinet of Battletoads and give it a shot! It’ll definitely be one of the best life choices you’ve ever made.

The Big Arctic Cavern is pretty similar to the Arctic Cavern stages of the NES Battletoads in terms of basic level design. The stage itself has slidey ice physics, ramps you need to climb up or slide down and… that’s about it. But the real danger here are the enemies. Tons of rats show up to shoot you or just plain pummel you into paste. Some of the rats are wearing festive holiday clothes though, so that’s nice! I mean yeah, they’re ice skating around and trying to jump on top of your head blades-first, but still, nice to see them getting into the spirit of the season. Another theme-appropriate enemy is the Rabid Roodolph, a giant reindeer-beast who tries to run you over. You also have to deal with some strangely deadly snowmen, who can seemingly destroy you simply by throwing snowballs at you. If you make it out alive, you have to face… uh… Karnath? The king of the snakes? If that seems a bit out of place, that’s because it is; in the final stages of the game, there is a portrait of a character named “Admiral Oink,” a giant pig who’s dressed like Santa Claus. It’s pretty clear that he was meant to be the boss of this stage, but had to be cut and replaced with Karnath. But hey, Karnath’s a giant snakey so I won’t complain. After you kick his head clean off his body, it’s on to the next stage. Because hey, 90s!

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Not pictured: the “BUTT KICKIN’ ZONE” sign that shows up in the actual stage. Anyway, get the full wallpaper here.

Music time! The theme to the Big Arctic Caverns is pretty great, like all the music in this game. The NES Battletoads had a very different Arctic Cavern stage, and it had very different music too.

This remix of the arcade Arctic Caverns by Patricio Herrera is pretty true to the source material. And let’s not forget Ice Cave Dynamo, the NES Arctic Caverns remix by Joshua Morse!

As frustrating as Battletoads may be, hopefully you can relieve some stress while you wait for the next ice level. You can’t go into these things all angry and unable to enjoy yourself. That’s probably the best way to get traumatized by a game!

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