Full of Warts

User Rating: 3 | Battletoads & Double Dragon SNES

The Battetoads and Double Dragon games are notoriously difficult, but the crossover title Battletoads and Double Dragon for the Super Nintendo Entertainment system is excruciatingly hard due to bad game design. In its pure beat-em-up moments, it succeeds well enough, but its set-piece diversity is ironically a weak-point because these parts are filled with mechanical issues. The surprisingly acclaimed Battletoads and Double Dragon simply fails in trying to offer a non-traditional take on its genre.

You can play as either two Double Dragon characters (Billy, Jimmy Lee) or as one of three Battletoads characters (Zitz, Pimple, ans Rash), but there is little distinction between choices. Other than attack style, all of the characters basically play alike. In combat, Battletoads and Double Dragon is the quintessential button-masher that contains some variation in its allowing players to pick up melee weapons and counter-attack foes by utilizing the tactics of those enemies. In this regard, Battletoads and Double Dragon is a commendable experience.

Also notable is the flashy, cartoonish , fun-to-watch combat. Characters display over-exaggeration in zany ways (such as letting their jaws drop to the floor when seeing a baddie with the build of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the determined look of a killer such as Rambo), adding a good dose of juvenile comedy. Battletoads and Double Dragon is like a 90's Saturday morning action cartoon show put onto a sixteen-bit cartridge; the music is a saturation of energetic rock and characters are caricatures of the rad, relevant hero and the sleazy, nasty villain.

The nastiest aspect of this game is its failure in providing a diverse beat-em-up experience. In set-pieces where Battletoads and Double Dragon breaks away from tradition, it fails miserably with unbalanced consequences and frustrating mechanics. When the gameplay turns into a 2D platforming/beat-em-up hybrid, the characters' abilities are not enough to overcome the insanely difficult, cheap obstacles. You will find yourself losing life after life in situations in which poor control, sudden death traps, and unfair fights consume you. The death traps of the fray do not accommodate the strict limitations of the Dragons and Battletoads.

And when Battletoads and Double Dragon tries to be a different genre altogether, it becomes a sloppy, impossible mess. I am mostly referring to a stage that is inspired by the classic arcade and Atari game Asteroids, though the same can be said of other moments in Battletoads and Double Dragon. The Asteroids-inspired stage epitomizes what is bad about this game: horrible, wonky controls and ridiculous punishment for minor errors in overly long, repetitive set-pieces. The seemingly insurmountable task of completing this game is an attribute that plagued the original Battletoads.

Battletoads for the Nintendo Entertainment System was one of the most innovative titles of its time, and while Battletoads and Double Dragon does not reach its admirable heights, it shares one unfortunate characteristic with that title: it is too hard. However, as stated earlier, Battletoads and Double Dragon does not max out on a scale of difficulty. Rather, it is on no chart that rates challenge; this game is impossible because of its poor design.