Battletoads & Double Dragon

IT'S IN THREE-D! SORT OF!

This is the fourth time I have written this. Lost twice due to computer crashing, once due to hard drive failure, and once due to the fact that I’m really sick but wrote it on my work computer, which is at work, because it seems to be the only computer in my life that isn’t crashing daily… you don’t care about my problems. Am I trying to kid myself?

Battletoads and Double Dragon is, in essence, Battletoads. Double Dragon has an influence here or there, but make no mistake: from the first level’s spaceship exterior to the following jetbikes and spelunking levels, it’s BT through and through, just slightly remixed.

This is the first game we’ve played multiplayer for this: I, as the Battletoad Rash, and Brian, as the… Double Dragon? I forget his name. Ricky or Bobby or Jimmy or something suitably borderline-white-trash-kung-fu-movie-from-the-80s. Sorry if that’s your name. I’m sure in the context of you it’s a wonderful name.

DONT FUCK WITH ABOBO

This game is a joy to play. The combat, while not among the best beat ’em ups of all time, is made up for by the fact that there are so many gimmicks. Once you run across the first level, and figure out that headbutting everyone is the only way to stay safe, you go into a spaceship thing where you can knock guys into the ground like tent pegs. Then you get to hit people with the legs of giant robots. Then you’re in a jetbike, kicking douchebag-looking guys and jumping over stuff (this, btw, is the best example of 3D I have seen in a Super Nintendo game, period). then you’re descending into a pit on a rope. If it’s anything like the other games (I didn’t get that far in this one), there’s an ice level as well, with brutal falling icicles everywhere, and a level with giant snakes that you need to stand on as they float through some weird snake nest thing.

Anyway, here’s the thing: this game is a lot of fun. It feels very glidy, as if the entire game is an ice level, but it gives your attacks a degree of momentum that makes it incredibly satisfying. Who owns the rights to this franchise, anyway? I tried playing detective a while ago, and I think I succeeded, but that was about 3 rewrites ago and I can’t be bothered to do it again. It may be Rare, or EA, or Tradewest, or Williams, or Midway, or, hell, it could be Microsoft even that this point. Whoever it is, MAKE A NEW BATTLETOADS GAME. It’s ripe for the nostalgic ruining. I can’t wait to not like these games anymore.

Battletoads in Battlemaniacs

Battletoads in Battlemaniacs
Battletoads in Battlemaniacs

Rare brings another delightful experience to the table. This time, it’s in the form of a lovable, two-player beat’em up. Who can resist the charm of our favourite battletoads Zits(TM), Rash(TM) and Pimple(TM)? This time they’re out to save the world from being turned into an evil virtual reality! Oh noes! Oh, and of course to rescue one of the three, and the helpless female, cause having 3-player support world be awkward for the SNES.

The game is predictably about being awesome. What else would you be as a giant ass-kicking toad? You move through levels karate chopping big bad pigs!

Judo Chop!
Judo Chop!

You double-punch the cheap ones!

HaHA!
HaHA!

And you bash up the annoying ones good!

Anvil to the face, biatch!
Anvil to the face, biatch!

The game is full of great times for two players. You can select between two modes. In one mode, you can hit your teammate. In the other mode, you can’t it each other. The first is great for trash talking. The second is great for actually making it anywhere in the game. It’s rather hard to beat each other up when you need every last life for those awkward jumps.

The game primarily fails in its mixing of platform with beat’em up. The beat’em up part of the game is entirely marginalized by the fact that you can lose all of your lives on a single jump because of the difficult positioning and hard-to-see relative distances into the depth of the ground layout. You can die three times in 1 second and game over. The beat’em up part, you can take quite a beating, for a while, and not lose a life, so they really act as interludes between the jumping puzzles.

The game is nearly impossible without cheat codes. Even with cheat codes, the game can still be frustrating, especially in the second stage where you have to navigate through awkward vertical spaces.

Vertical scrolling can be fun, but also annoying if the difficulty is too high.
Vertical scrolling can be fun, but also annoying if the difficulty is too high.

It brings forward some amount of game design from the NES era where games had to be difficult to make them last. However, it’s good times. It’s fun, even when it’s frustrating. You have to memorize a stage in order to pass it. There’s no time to react unless you know what’s coming.

So break open a couple of beers, load up the Game Genie, and have some good times. Don’t worry if you die a whole lot. If you get annoyed, just switch game modes, and take your frustrations out on each other. Turn it into a sort of improvised fighting game. Oh, and of course, hawt chicks.

Pixelated booty badguys ftw!
Pixelated booty badguys ftw!

Verdict: Battlemaniacs is a classic. It brings the difficulty of NES games into the SNES era, but preserves the fun format of the silly, wacky combat genre. It makes decent use of the SNES’ graphics engine, and the music creates a fun atmosphere. It’s a must for inclusion in the SNES two-player party game list, but doesn’t have as much long-term single player value. You wouldn’t want to break this game out if you were looking for something with depth.