Disclaimer: The reviewer, Adeki, used save-states in order to complete this game so that this review would be uploaded by its due date. While save-states are usually frowned upon by many, the general public has found that when a game is quote “bullshit,” save-states are then allowed as corroborated by the 35th Amendment to the US Constitution signed into place by future President Zombie Fat Elvis in the year 20XX. Way to go, Lane.
Battletoads & Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team was first released on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1993, and was then ported to the Game Boy and subsequently remastered on the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo Entertainment System. A crossover between popular beat ’em up Double Dragon and aggravating platformer Battletoads, Battletoads & Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team does a fantastic job at showing how two classic games can be ruined in their entirety when combined into one. While Nintendo Power might have ranked this title as being the second-best NES game of 1993, players in modern times will find that this game is not only poorly designed but all around painful to play.
The plot of the game is simple enough as it appears that after her first defeat in Battletoads, the Dark Queen is back with an evil plan to disable the Earth’s military system, but has also formed an alliance with the Shadow Warriors from the popular “Double Dragon” franchise. In order to defeat this combined threat, the Battletoads team up with twin brothers Jimmy and Billy Lee in order to take down their collective foe. The story is straightforward enough and nothing too complicated that players will not understand. As far as crossovers and beat ’em ups go, there is not too much to ask for in terms of a complicated story so to just say that two evil forces have combined efforts is effectively all the writers need in order to have these two universes meet. So while it may be simple, this story is really all the player needs in order to find out what their goal is and is not a plus or minus on the game’s overall score as there is much more that plot hampering it from getting anywhere close to an A.
As for visuals, Battletoads & Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team, does a decent job when it comes to color scheme, although some might understandably see it as a tad unappealing based on personal preference. However, while it is true that the later-released SNES and Sega Genesis versions of this game were upgraded with new music and higher quality visuals, they unfortunately washed out some of the bright colors the NES original offered. While this can be seen as a positive or negative for some, overall the game does have some fantastic battle animations that do very well at portraying the attacks the characters are performing as well as the pain felt by enemies. Ultimately, the biggest problem with the visuals is that it is very possible that some parts of the stage can blend in a tad too well due to them all having the same color scheme. This is portrayed quite well in the level 2-1, when there are a set of monkey bars the character(s) must climb on in order to advance. When streamed on the Lusipurr.com Twitch channel, it was only by accident that the player discovered these monkey bars as the player and others in the chat just thought that it was a finicky jump across that needed to be made. Other than that though, there is no other huge disadvantage the visuals provide except for a flying object getting lost here or there, but the monkey bars in 2-1 could easily prove to be frustrating to even the most observant of players as they do not stand out from the background.
The music and sound design in Battletoads & Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team, is barely worth mentioning but for the purpose of it being a review they will be quickly examined anyway. The title’s tracks were composed by David Wise who is famed for his work on the “Donkey Kong Country” series and is even set to work on the upcoming game Yooka-Laylee. Upon listening to the level’s tracks it is then understandable that the songs in the “Donkey Kong Country” franchise were a natural evolution from these tracks which is both a positive and a negative in terms of the game’s soundtrack. While no song is necessarily bad, it would have been appreciated if there was more work put into them and if there were more tracks in total as it is possible that the player(s) might find themselves stuck on the same level for half an hour, which could then turn an innocent song into a track synonymous with the sounds of screaming children as they burn alive in an orphanage that the player left unattended leaving them to face the mistakes they made in life, the first of which was to play Battletoads & Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team.
When it comes to gameplay, Battletoads & Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team stays fairly standard in that once the player(s) chooses their character(s) they are immediately put into the very first level of the game. There is no stage selecting process or password system as the game itself can theoretically be completed in about an hour, at least if it did not take hundreds of previous play-throughs in order to mentally prepare the player(s) for the surprises in store for them. Now, Battletoads & Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team is a two-player title which most likely makes the game much easier to complete since there is an extra body on the screen. Unfortunately, the reviewer of this title was forced to play in his lonesome which led to a tsunami of enemies bombarding him and a severe lack of much needed lives in order to make it to the end of the title. Aside from the immense amount of enemies the game throws at the player(s), the most apparent problem is an overwhelming lack of polish and forethought when it comes to the levels. The game consistently puts players in “unwinnable” positions where they can get trapped between two enemies and beaten to the point of a lost life no matter how furiously they mash the controller or the immense skill they might have shown off beforehand. Words can not even begin to describe how emotionally painful it is to see so much progress wasted away due to these poor design choices that are almost impossible to get accustomed to as different levels have different styles of play. It is also worth mentioned certain stage hazards that will automatically kill the player once they reach level 5 in the form of fire that flares up in a pattern too fast to get used to and too close together to find a safe space on the ladder efficiently. In the end, there were too many mistakes and oversights put into Battletoads & Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team to make it salvageable, but there is certainly a heart there that almost gives it a charm. Though, this charm is definitely not evident enough to make playing it a recommendation to anyone who does not wish to torture themselves.