Genre: Beat-‘Em-Up Developer: Rare Publisher: Tradewest Players: 1-2 Released: 1993
It came out of nowhere and took many fans by storm. Whether you got your first taste of fighting glory from being a toad or from being a twin brother, everyone was ready to fight side by side along with their friends and ready to choose either Zitz, Rash, Pimple, Billy Lee, or Jimmy Lee when Battletoads & Double Dragon was announced. The team up seemed like something that was obvious to everyone but wouldn’t actually occur.
But then the day came, and many fans played it and enjoyed it but still had that small feeling in the pit of their stomach that something was missing. While the BattleToads seemed well represented in gameplay, the Lee twins just didn’t work out as well. Their sections of the game seemed to leave many questions, like the Shadow Boss Burnov from Double Dragon II being included. Jimmy Lee is the Shadow Boss! That’s not Roper from Double Dragon! Roper never toted a giant machine gun! Why is this air-speeder sequence so easy?
Still, despite the game not being what some fans expected, they soon realized that maybe this was going to be different. I mean, the BattleToads weren’t represented as well as maybe some people would have liked, but it still felt more like a BT game than a DD game. Ignoring those facts and going on to the idea of this being a brand new action game which happens to be starring famous action characters, you can really start seeing how good the game really is.
The graphics will be the first thing you notice. The title screen blends well, along with the character selection screen, which was just a surreal experience that still slightly lingers to this day. As your play around, you notice the sprites, while not huge, still seem an odd shape compared to the stage. Even if proportions aren’t the most important thing, it’s still noticeable. Even so, everything still looks pretty nice. Your enemies are nicely detailed, along with the characters profiles actually having elements of shading and personality instead of just being blinking, talking portraits in a little box. The extra effects all around are a nice touch and overall, this game got a major upgrade in graphics from both games predecessors and really helped with the games experience.
The sound is done right as well. The score is full of catchy tunes which really set the tone, just like background music is supposed to. Listen for it especially it the first level, which really throws you into a fight but with the feeling of epic-like challenges to come. Your sound effects are the average for the most part, with various blasts and hits coming from either Battletoads or Double Dragon, which can be another little fun game to play guessing which they came from. There are still enough original sound to make Battletoads & Double Dragon still feel like its own game, which you’ll realize was the real purpose.
Even the controls are quick to learn but hard to really master, especially in the later levels when you have to develop some quick fingers before you start losing lives right and left. You only use simple punch and kick controls but playing around will find some hidden moves. One thing I really liked overall was the inclusion of giving Billy and Jimmy the big running moves which came directly from Battletoads. While it seems Billy or Jimmy suddenly sprouting giant limbs or at least acting suddenly superhuman to take down a foe seems odd in a Double Dragon game, in the cross-overs universe, it all fits.
The game isn’t perfect though. It has its cheap moments, like moving down a rope too fast for the screen and being killed by seemingly nothing or being overcrowded by enemies at the most frustrated moments. There are moments of unbalanced fights, which may feel a bit cheaper than needed. Also, just like the related games of the past, when you lose a continue in a two-player game, and BOTH are sent to the beginning of the level, making it absolutely impossible to have an inexperienced player ride on the better one’s coattails. Both players have to be pretty good at what they’re doing to make it all the way through to see the ending… or they could just use the infamous cheat code at the character select screen, whatever works.
At the end of the day, Battletoads & Double Dragon is a solid release which can still entertain to this day. It’s a game that doesn’t rest on novelty alone and was made to be a pretty good game in its own right, even if there are moments of cheapness or simply things just feeling a bit wrong at a point or two. Pick it up and have some fun. It’s a game with the Double Dragons AND the BattleToads, so there’s little reason you shouldn’t enjoy!
SCORE: 8 out of 10