Monday, June 17, 2024

Battletoads/Double Dragon is a Classic Beat ‘Em Up Worth Diving Into.

( When I was younger, I was a big fan of side-scrolling beat ‘em ups. There have been many cult classics and true bangers of this subgenre of action games but one game always irritated me: Battletoads/Double Dragon. It’s a title I got during Christmas 1993 and I was pretty stoked to get it mainly for Double Dragon.

That Annoying Speeder Level

Normally, I’d go into the background of the game and its mechanics—and I will—but let’s get into what really made this game the antagonist in my long-time love of retro gaming. The speeder level of the game is an annoying mission that comes early into your adventures.

The thing about the speeder level isn’t the combat but the obstacles at hyper-speed. At the time, I hadn’t played many racing or vehicle games besides Road Rash and Super Mario Kart. So, this level was a really problem since I hadn’t developed the skill for racing. Hell, I’m still pretty bad at racing games although there are a few I enjoy.

Now, this stage was easy when I was older and able to dodge the obstacles easier. It also helped that I had a better controller to play Battletoads/Double Dragon but that stage caused me to stop playing the game for a while. I wouldn’t beat that stage until years later when I was revisiting Super Nintendo titles. If you’ve never played a similar game or level it can be a frustrating change from beating up enemies.

Fortunately, it only pops up once.

Battletoads-Double Dragon Game.

It Was More Battletoads featuring Double Dragon

While playing the game, it felt as though this was more of a Battletoads title featuring Jimmy and Billy Lee from Double Dragon. I’m a big DD fan and when I saw the cover I thought “This is cool!” The Toads were similar to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in appearance and at 9-years-old, that’s all I needed.

However, Battletoads are definitely different from TMNT but it was the early 90s and anthropomorphic characters were big in gaming and cartoons. I found myself playing with the Dragons more after trying out the Toads. It’s not that the Toads sucked or were difficult to play but I just enjoyed the Dragojs more even if this game—developed by Battletoads devs Rare—played like a Battletoads game.

That’s important to note: Technos had little involvement in the game outside of having the DD license. Everything else was pure Toads. Rare did deliver a good start to finish beat ‘em up but this wasn’t a hybrid of the best of both franchises.

To warrant the crossover, Rare included a storyline that would make Jimmy and Billy galactic heroes when they typically dealt with Shadow Boss in their city. Meanwhile, the three Toads fought Evil Queen wherever in space. It worked since console titles didn’t have the deepest of storylines at the time or even the most involved stories.

You had villain who wanted to take things over or was just there to do evil. Why? In the 1980s and early it didn’t matter. The villain didn’t even need motivation but the character you played was always tasked with dealing with the issue especially if they were unprepared and unskilled to do it.

After all, were two plumbers fit to fight a dragon and save a princess or a slacker hedgehog qualified to fight an evil scientist/tyrant? Of course they weren’t! However, Billy and Jimmy Lee were qualified to defend their city against a crime lord and I supposed some alien Toad people were qualified to fight a space tyrant.

Worth the Play Regardless

While the game frustrated me, the game is straight up old school beat ‘em up action in its purest 90s form. There was no inventory, pocket heals, complex controls, or tutorials. You’re dropped into the game and start throwing fists and feet from the jump! It’s a fun play through if you like your action games with a good amount of difficulty.

Also of note is that the game’s multiplayer mode makes the game less miserable at times when dealing with the difficulty. I tend to play solo in most games and Battletoads difficulty can be bother at times since these were the days when saves weren’t a standard feature like today. Multiplayer’s difficulty isn’t easy but it makes things tolerable—especially if you have a teammate who knows what they’re doing.

If you can’t get your hands on the original game or don’t play emulators, an 8-bit re-release was dropped in 2022 by Retro-Bit. Battletoads/Double Dragon is a worthwhile trip down memory lane regardless of the version and year.

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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