Battletoads & Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team
Follow 1993 Tradewest
Nintendo Entertainment System
SNES
Sega Genesis
Game Boy

Battletoads & Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team

Good: Amazing late generation graphics
Bad: Weak sound and extreme difficulty
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9.0
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In the Summer of 1993, we were treated to an excellent crossover game combining two of the greatest beat ’em up franchises on the NES. One of which, Double Dragon, had for years been the gold standard by which side scrolling beat ’em ups were measured. The other, Battletoads, originally came across as a knock off of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but quickly found their own footing in a highly successful NES release which was probably more responsible for broken controllers (from being thrown) than any other release for the system. Sure, both franchises are now seemingly in retirement as hot properties of the past, but when Tradewest announced the upcoming release for Battletoads & Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team, our minds were blown. And boy, did Tradewest deliver.

BTDD NESNES Version

Like I said above, the original Battletoads game was a huge hit for Tradewest on the NES two years prior, in 1991. The game was well-received by players and journalists alike for the advanced graphics and gameplay, and helped breathe new life into the aging NES console. As the world was moving on to the greener pastures of the new 16-bit systems, the original Battletoads helped the NES keep its footing in the autumn of it’s lifecycle. There was just one thing-Battletoads was HARD. The difficulty level was insane, even for veteran players. But, as gamers, we never have been one to shy away from a challenge. For Battletoads & Double Dragon, the difficulty was scaled down a bit, in the first three levels. Then like a nasty sucker punch, it showed its true colors once the game is well under way. It is worth mentioning that while the game was marketed as a crossover, Technos-Japan, creators of the Double Dragon series, had very little to do with the production and development of the game, other than granting the license to Tradewest to use their characters for the game. This is especially noticeable in the plot, which is seemingly tailored to the ‘Toads, with Billy & Jimmy Lee tagging along for the ride, as hired mucsle. The game was also later ported to the Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo and the portable Game Boy.

BTDD dark queenA little retro-fappage

The plot of this release involves part time dominatrix and full time space villian, The Dark Queen, who, after regrouping in the far reaches of outer space following her defeat (for those able to complete the original) has returned with a city-sized space ship called Colossus, and blown up the Earth’s moon. Following this, she aligns herself with the Shadow Warriors, Billy & Jimmy Lee’s long time antagonists. This evil dream team promptly decimates every country on earth’s militaries, and prepares to reign supreme. The Battletoads, realizing the magnitude of the challenge before them, hastily get in contact with the Lee brothers and set out to foil her evil plan. That being said, how awesome would this game have been if they had recruited the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as well?

BTDD rat bossGenesis Version

 I’m primarily focusing on the NES version in this article, but I’ll also touch on versions seen on other systems as well. What made the NES version so special, was that the game really pushed the NES to its limits, graphically speaking. Effects like 3D scrolling, not typical of even some of the late NES releases, was a prominent feature. The animations of the characters, mainly the comic-bookesque exaggerated expressions upon seeing the end of level boss is a good example. This was a holdover from the original game that translated very well here. Another thing that always caught my eye were the x-ray graphics whenever your toad was electrocuted. The color palate was very well executed, and the result was a game of very striking and rich color, which was something we didn’t usually see on the NES. The 16 bit versions looked even better, with the SNES having a slight edge over the Genesis version as far as graphics went. The music was the weakest link for this game, as far as I’m concerned. It was a little bass heavy, with simple riffs that bordered on tedium. It wasn’t totally lacking in charm, however, as you approached the end of level boss, the music would slow down to a more intimidating beat, but even that seemed a little underwhelming. It would also pick up the tempo in tense situations, but largely falls flat on its face. That being said, the Sega Genesis version of the game provides music that does the game justice.

BTDD fistThe gameplay is very reminiscent of the original, and definitely has the Battletoads feel to it. The “oh my God I’m going to scream” difficulty we associate with the franchise doesn’t become readily apparent until the third level or so. Like I said earlier, when the insane difficulty hits, it hits hard. There are traps all over the place, and the enemies always seem to strike at the most inopportune times, like my favorite, when hanging from a rope. There are also cheap shots a go-go. You do have the option of disabling ‘friendly fire’ attacks in two player mode, which goes a long way towards making the co-op a little easier. One thing that really pissed me off about the multiplayer was that when you or your compatriot ran out of lives, you had the ability to continue, but both players had to restart the level entirely. There was nothing worse than being in the middle of a boss fight and have player 2 bite the dust and hit ‘continue,’ only to spirit you both back to the end of the level. So in that aspect, this game was much like the first in the sense that it made much better for a solitary experience.

BTDD bug eyesSNES Version

At the end of the day, Battletoads & Double Dragon is exactly what it is supposed to be; a challenging, yet enjoyable title. The game is rife with good humor, from the hilarious facial expressions to the Dark Queen making fun of you for using a cheat code, which was a great touch. The learning curve of difficulty you get at the beginning of the game does help to acclimate you to the game prior to going crazy on you, which benefits the player. My biggest gripe is that the Lee Brothers could have been a more integral part of the game, from a plot standpoint as well as in-game. They just seem out of their element, seeing as how the entire game takes place in a Battletoads universe. This could have been remedied by starting the game off in the Double Dragon world, with the ‘toads seeking out the Brothers as well as the group’s journey to the Colossus spaceship. For what it’s worth, however, this game is an example of just exactly what the NES was capable of in terms of hardware as well as graphics processing. It’s a shame we don’t have that many late generation NES titles like this one, and some of the others that I’ve previously written about, and collectively, I think we’re all worse off for that. But still, the challenge of the Battletoads series is alive and well in this somewhat hard to find game. Definitely worth seeking out and taking for a second, or first playthrough.

BTDD hangin

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Battletoads & Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
fflando
fflando


I am a full time Firefighter/EMT living in the United States. In my spare time, I split my time between modern games on my Xbox and the rich universe of the systems we all grew up with.

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