|Release Date:||June 1993|
|Players:||1 or 2|
In my personal opinion, Battletoads: Double Dragon remains one of the more underrated NES titles out there. Despite the success of the original Battletoads megahit (it doesn't hurt when you receive a record-breaking 36 page monster of a review in Nintendo Power magazine), the sequel never quite caught on with mainstream video game fans. This is truly a shame too because this is one of the finest two-player co-op games on the NES! It doesn't have quite the diversity or atmosphere (nor the intense challenge!) of the original Battletoads game, but Battletoads: Double Dragon is still a very solid video game outing.
Overview: If you have read my review of the original Battletoads game, you know how legendary and nostalgic (not to mention insanely difficult!) that game is to me. It truly is one of the all-time great NES games and is probably one of my most-played video games due to the aforementioned difficulty. With that being said, however, I wasn't quite sure what to think when I received my June 1993 issue of Nintendo Power Magazine and saw the brand new Battletoads: Double Dragon game gracing its cover. After all, I had not even conquered the original game at the time (I didn't actually beat Battletoads for nearly ten years after its initial release!) and all I could think of was "Do I have to play another one of these monsters?"
At the same time, I have to admit that the colorful pictures/maps in that tasty issue of Nintendo Power made Battletoads: Double Dragon look like another great game...and likely one of the last great NES titles too (it was a given by this time that the NES was not going to last much longer). When Nintendo Power's editors discussed how this new NES game (the last NES game to garner a Nintendo Power cover by the way) was even better than the "new" SNES Battletoads game, it definitely piqued my interest.
While this game can be viewed as a sequel to Battletoads, it is unique in that it contains characters and enemies from the Double Dragon universe as well! The concept of two popular video games merging into one giant "megaperson" (yes, that is a "Kicking and Screaming" reference) was very intriguing at the time and, being that I loved the Double Dragon series as well, made this idea that much more appealing. And after playing this game at great length, I really do feel that Rare pulled this off quite nicely. Granted, this does feel much more like a Battletoads game than a Double Dragon game due to the visuals, music, and level design having a blatant Battletoads-esque vibe but I suppose that it couldn't be helped.
Essentially, you get to play as one of the Battletoads (Pimple is even a playable character this time around!) or Double Dragons (Billy or Jimmy Lee are your options here.) and then it's off for some major fighting action! One of the cool things about a game of this nature is that you do end up fighting characters from both Battletoads and Double Dragon fame. It is pretty wild dueling with Abobo at the end of Stage 1 or taking on those fiesty whip-wielding gals (Double Dragon was notorious for having some wicked tough female enemies in their games.) in Stage 3. And, as you would expect in any game with the Battletoads name, there is a healthy dose of differentiated styles of gameplay. Granted, nothing can top the original Battletoads game in terms of variety but the sequel certainly puts up a pretty good fight. While the game does have standard beat 'em up levels, there are some fun diversions too. You might have to pick up and throw dynamite back at enemies, ride the legendary speedbikes, or even fly a spaceship! The speedbikes are basically a very toned-down version of Battletoads' memorable Stage 3 and even include fights against enemies as well as bonus pod-like items. The graphics are so smooth and this is just a really fun part of the game. Stage 4 is also pretty cool in that you control a Solar Jetman-esque spaceship (but with much better play control) and find yourself blasting away meteors and anything else that the Colossus (spaceship that the Dark Queen and Shadow Boss control) throws at you. The first part of this stage almost feels like an ode to the Atari classic Asteroids which I thought was a nice touch. These "diversions" keep the gameplay fresh and give this game an element of unpredictably which was one reason why I loved the original game (when I wasn't throwing the game cartridge onto a tile floor that is) so much. The sequel didn't disappoint either!
Graphics: Like its predecessor (the "Battletoads" one), Battletoads: Double Dragon features bold, colorful graphics that will knock your socks off! There is plenty of eye candy to go around like the parallax-scrolling in Stage 2 or the various animated effects in the foreground/background. Especially for an 8-bit game, the animated graphics are quite impressive. Gearlike devices twisting, stars flickering, missiles rotating...the animation in Battletoads: Double Dragon really pushes the envelope...even for a late release NES game. The character animation is very fluid and gives the game its unique atmosphere too. Whether you are using your "Big, Bad Fist" or giving enemies a "Cyclone Kick" that they won't soon forget, the embellished kill moves are a lot of fun to watch! If this game does not make you laugh, then you might want to check your pulse my friend!
Granted, the variety/diversity is not quite on the same level as Battletoads (probably due to this game having only seven stages instead of a whopping twelve) but for what it is, Battletoads: Double Dragon did a superb job in the visual department. Rare held nothing back in regards to bold 8-bit graphics with plenty of attitude...right to the very end.
Music: One aspect of Battletoads that really gave the game its originality had to be the groovy soundtrack. Even if you hated the mind-numbing difficulty, it helped to have some adrenaline-pumping music playing in the background to keep you going. Naturally, I had high expectations of Battletoads: Double Dragon in this area and, while the overall soundtrack probably isn't as good as Battletoads, it is still pretty dang impressive. The Stage 1 track sets the tone nicely with its hip beat while the Stage 5 track with its hopeful-yet-cool-as-heck melody is probably my personal favorite. To be fair, there are a few average tracks (the Stage 4 and 6 themes come to mind) but overall, the music in B:DD is certainly well above average. Where the game really scores is in the sound effects department. Like with Battletoads, the sound of clobbering an enemy (especially after managing a really big hit) is simply hilarious in this game! I'm glad that Rare kept the old Battletoads sound effects in B:DD because they are some of the very best in video games.
Play Control: One thing that gives this game a leg-up on its competition is its excellent play control. Jumping, punching, and jump-kicking come naturally in Battletoads: Double Dragon. You can ram into enemies with a Battletoad Butt, give them a nice uppercut, and deal a "kiss-my-fist" power punch for good measure. If all else fails, you can even pick up an enemy and throw him/her across the room like a sack of potatoes! As I briefly mentioned earlier, this game has a great sense of humor, too. You can use a walker's leg to pick up foes and hit them like with a baseball bat or even toss enemies through windows! I laughed myself silly when I first played this game and I still do so today. The fact that enemies can actually hit each other only adds to the hilarity too. For example, if you properly time a jump just before two enemies strike, they just might miss you and jump kick each other into oblivion. Battletoads: Double Dragon is definitely one of the more amusing games out there and as far as the controls go, they feel very smooth overall.
Challenge: Despite its immense popularity, the original Battletoads game was accessible only to hardcore gamers who were gluttons for punishment. I say this because anyone who has played Battletoads knows that it is one of the most difficult, unforgiving video games ever created. Casual gamers don't really stand a chance and even diehard, hardcore gamers will have their wills tested immensely before actually beating the sucker (I got whupped a ton before finally conquering it!) On top of that, even the two-player co-op mode was royally screwed up in Battletoads for one simple reason: You could hit each other. This sounds a bit on the whiny side until you realize that it is virtually impossible not to hit each other. I honestly have no idea what Rare was thinking as far as that goes but thankfully, they made all of the right adjustments with Battletoads: Double Dragon.
At least in regards to two-player co-op, Battletoads: Double Dragon destroys the original game! You now have either an "A" or a "B" option to choose from and the main difference between the two is that you can hit your partner in one mode ("A") while you cannot touch him in the other one ("B"). You can finally play the game cooperatively and not have to worry about beating up your partner by mistake! Of course, if you want to beat the snot out of your partner, you can do that by choosing the "A" option but why would you want to do that you crazy sick person?! ;)
In any case, the difficulty level in Battletoads: Double Dragon has really been toned down because, unlike the original game, this game can actually be beaten! I say this from a Battletoads perspective because Battletoads: Double Dragon is still moderate-to-hard in terms of its challenge level. The final three stages of the game can be pretty challenging and there are still 2-3 very "Battletoads-esque" challenges that you have to be a wiz to overcome without dying. This game is by no means a pushover but at least you have a fair shot this time around.
Storyline: Okay, I will admit that the background story in Battletoads: Double Dragon is pretty cheesy. All you need to know is that a huge spaceship called The Colossus blasts out of the moon and is piloted by the Dark Queen along with the Shadow Boss. I am not quite sure how the logistics of that are possible but it turns out that the aforementioned super-foes have teamed up and that their mission is to use the Colossus to destroy the Earth. The Battletoads obviously have no problem going after the Dark Queen while the Double Dragons even up the odds since the Shadow Boss is their arch-enemy. The serviceable background story is simply designed to explain why the Battletoads and Double Dragons would team up in the first place. But otherwise...it is quite forgettable.
Funfactor: Although the original Battletoads game is probably the better overall game due to its incredible atmosphere and massive length, Battletoads: Double Dragon is by far the better two-player game. While the one-player mode is still fun, this game is so much better with two players! It is a blast fighting enemies from Battletoads and Double Dragon fame with a friend and not having to worry about hitting them all the time like in the original game. And the non-stop action along with some of the fun gameplay elements like riding a speedbike or flying a spaceship really separate this game from your average action game pak. This game comes out a real winner and is probably the last great two-player co-op game to come out for a console that is chock-full of superb two-player games. This game rocks! It is quite the rare find though so good luck finding a copy for cheap.
Negatives: The only minor issue I have with Battletoads: Double Dragon is its length. Although the game contains seven action-packed stages (two of which are mainly boss battles, however), the original Battletoads game was a massive twelve stage ordeal! I didn't expect that kind of length with B:DD but one or possibly two additional stages (a longer, more intense speedbike stage would have been welcomed honestly) could have made this game even better.
Also, as I have already mentioned, the background story is mediocre at best. It isn't the worst story ever but surely Rare could have come up with something a little more imaginative than a spaceship crashing out of the moon and a missile being hurled at the Earth. But I suppose that is a minor gripe for an action game that doesn't really depend on a good story to be a great game.
Ratings: Graphics: 4.7 Music: 4.3 Play Control: 4.4 Challenge: 4.5 Storyline: 3.5 Funfactor: 4.7 (with two players!) Overall Score: 26.1 out of 30.0 Overall Rating: Silver Stud!
Back to NES NostalgiaLast Updated: March 2, 2015