Friday, May 24, 2024

Throwback Games: Battletoads/Double Dragon.

( Double Dragon is an OG of beat ‘em up games. Developed by Technos, the first game dropped in 1987 and was supposed to be a sequel of the Kunio-kun franchise, one of my favorite beat ‘em up franchises of all time. Four years later, Rare developed Battletoads.

Then someone thought “Let’s put these two totally unrelated franchises—with two very different settings—together.” Thus Battletoads/Double Dragon was released in 1993.

The Crossover No One Knew Was Coming

This crossover is a very weird one. I can’t say that no one asked for this crossover—they were very rare in games in the early 90s—but I can’t see anything thinking “They should make a game with characters from Battletoads and Double Dragon!”

I’ve heard Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter and Fatal Fury—which eventually happened with Capcom vs. SNK—and even Mario and Sonic. This wasn’t a crossover that was expected.

Rare handled the development of the game and produced something really unique for its time in many ways. As for how Rare made the game work plot-wise, after the Battletoads were dealt with, their nemesis the Dark Queen turned her attention on Earth.

Who’s there to defend the planet? Apparently just Jimmy and Billy who are actually more like local heroes who lumped up the Shadow Warriors in a couple of games. The Dark Queen teams up with the Shadow Boss to takeover Earth which prompts Jimmy and Billy to respond.

The two brothers team up the Battletoads to deal with the evil duo and their forces.

Battletoads - Double Dragon 2021

Battletoads/Double Dragon

I had the SNES version of the game as a kid but eventually played the Sega Genesis version. There was an NES version but I usually steer clear of the OG Nintendo version if there’s a Super Nintendo version of a game available.

Battletoads/Double Dragon is a difficult game as it is. Games on the NES were needlessly difficult because the controls just weren’t flexible outside of simple games. The more actions and animations a game had, the more the NES resisted.

You could say that the original Nintendo just wasn’t accommodating for some games. It could also be said that developers were trying to do 90s things on an 80s console. Just look at something as commonplace as jumping in Castlevania or Mega Man.

There was always a risk of running into the Konami Bump—when an enemy could bump you into the abyss following a jump to a platform. It benefited you to land on the furthest end of a platform and never the closest edge or the middle.

That’s not to say that in Battletoads/Double Dragon’s case, the NES version was a bad game. However, you just knew you might just need a guide book or Game Genie.

Meanwhile, the Super Nintendo version had some heat to it. Rare was doing magic with graphics and fluid gameplay years before Donkey Kong Country dropped.

There’s a difficulty to this game but for me, it was mainly the parts that weren’t beat ‘em up. Battletoads/Double Dragon sprinkles in some elements from other genres such as side scrolling racing and even first-person shooter.

It made for a very interesting mix considering most brawlers from the 90s were pretty much only brawlers from beginning to end.

Verdict: Dope

This game was so much fun from start to finish. It’s even more fun with two players but it’s still fun as hell solo. The graphics, the soundtrack, the gameplay itself—all of it works.

Is it the perfect beat ‘em up? Not at all but it’s still a high quality, early 90s beat ‘em up. I’d definitely like to see an HD remake of this one.

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.

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