By Larry Petit
By 1993 the glory days of Double Dragon had passed. Double Dragon 3 had been released in 1990 severely hurting the series, and one-on-one fighters, lead by Street Fighter II, were the new rage. Add to that the fact that the weak cartoon was already airing, and the ďmovieĒ was right around the corner, and, well, it was a far cry from the days of DD and DD II. Enter Tradewest, who had had great success with Battletoads and owned some kind of rights to Double Dragon. So, they put out a crossover game, and while itís certainly an odd combination, the resulting game was ultimately successful, if not really a part of the Double Dragon canon.
Battletoads and Double Dragon made it to the popular consoles of day, namely the Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis and the still-breathing original Nintendo (plus Game Boy). Of these, the Genesis port falls in the middle. While of course looking better than the NES version (though the NES version definitely looks great, considering the hardware), it just canít live up the SNES versionís visuals. This was the norm, however, and that being said, BDD is a very good-looking game on any system. The Genesis version suffers somewhat from the limited palette, but not too much. Characters are animated well and have a decent amount of detail put into them. Everything is in the style of Battletoads however, so it looks more like a cartoon than the usual DD game (even more so than the original two arcades). The spaceship-themed backgrounds are all very nice and detailed, as well. There's even a little spaceship shooting level, which helps keep the game from getting repetitive. Excellent graphics all around really.
The music mostly sounds great. Most of it is pretty catchy and fits well with the game. The drawback is that the soundtrack isnít all that memorable. It sounds good while youíre playing, but chances are you wonít be humming it all day. Not to take anything away from the score though, because itís not bad at all. Level three even sounds like it might have a little Mission Two from the original DD in it, but thatís probably just wishful thinking. Sound effects, on the other hand, are just okay, with none really standing out. Still, sound is all-around pretty pleasing.
Eh, the enemies are okay. Many are Battletoads-themed baddies, but some old DD favorites show up, and they donít really use any of their skills from the original games. You get Abobo in the first level, Roper (who looks like Willy), Linda, Generic Thug (Williams?) and the Shadow Boss (it sure isnít the Willy we know!) all make appearances. Defeating the Dark Queen is your real goal here rather than the Shadow Boss. While most enemies can be pummeled easily, there are some that, while not too difficult in theory, are pretty cheap. Seems to me that bosses take a few too many hits to defeat, but that might just be me. In the end, there are a pretty good variety of enemies that donít get too repetitive, but itís nothing spectacular. At least they didnít just drop Billy and Jimmy into the Battletoads universe alone.
Only one real weapon, and I wasnít too fond of it. Destroy a robotic walker and you get to use one of its broken legs as a weapon. Itís okay and you can dispose of enemies in a humorous way with it, but Iíd rather stick to fists. You can also use dynamite against sub-bosses that hide behind doors, but you can only use it against them, so I suppose it doesnít really count as weapon. A few more weapons would have been nice, but this is okay.
Controls and Moves: A
Controls are more Battletoads than Double Dragon. You have two buttons: punch and jump. While that doesnít sound too interesting, you can pull off a variety of moves, or should I say, the game will pull those moves off for you. You see, many attacks are done automatically, depending on the situation. For example, you may grab a thug and kick him in the face several times, but then you may grab a Linda by the hair and slug her in the stomach, both using the same control scheme. This is actually pretty nice, and controls are so fast and responsive that you canít help but have a good time. Very well done in this area.
Not many modes, but whatís there works: One player, Two Players A and Two Players B. In one of the two-player modes you can hurt each other. In the other you canít. Canít really expect more than that from a 1993 beatemup.
Surprisingly, this game is pretty excellent. You wouldnít expect two series to work so well together, but they do. The Battletoads formula is used, but itís thankfully not as difficult as the original game. No, this isnít really an official DD game, but itís better than Double Dragon 3 (which is official), and leagues better than that travesty known Double Dragon V (also by Tradewest, and probably a few illegal substances). Itís a fun little offshoot of the DD series, and while itís not official canon, this was the last good real-style DD game until 2003ís Double Dragon Advance. Considering this was on four popular systems of the day, any old-school gamer and/or DD fan should have a copy.