Monday 23 June 2014

Battletoads and Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team Review (NES)

After the mighty Toads defeated the Dark Queen on Ragnarok's world she fled to the far reaches of the galaxy threatening revenge. A few months later a huge city sized space craft comes smashing out of the moon and heads directly towards earth. This time the Queen really means business and to ensure her evil plan bears fruit she has teamed up with the shady shadow boss to help with her evil schemes. 

Hugely outnumbered the Toads turn to brothers Billy and Jimmy Lee, known as the Double Dragons to even the score. Together, in the Battlecopter they set out to the ship to engage the troublesome evil villains. 

Containing a healthy mix of different playing styles, the game none the less is a beat’em up at heart and this is a very good thing. Selecting from five different characters you must make your way across the top of the battleship beating up just about everyone that gets in your way. Apart from general fighting there are the inventive touches associated with the Battletoads franchise such as the speeder bike and abseiling sections both making a return and being as excellently done as ever.

The game mechanics are closer to a Battletoads game than a Double Dragon one and in this instance it is a good thing they are. With the different styles of level in the game the Double Dragon fight system simply would not be flexible enough to allow you do what you have to.

Fighting is restricted to one button, producing a few hits followed by a big finishing shot and that is all that is needed as everything moves so quickly it would be hard to implement a huge array of different moves. With five characters to choose from you won't be hard pressed not to find your perfect fight partner. Though the characters are not massively different, there are enough differences to easily distinguish one characters strengths from another. 

Favoured combinations soon develop as Rash and Zitz are stronger than Billy and Jimmy, with Rash being slightly Faster and Zitz being a bit stronger. Billy and Jimmy are faster than all the toads, again with Billy being a touch stronger than Jimmy and Jimmy being a bit faster. Pimple on the other hand is very big, very strong and very slow. 

Graphically, things are a little plain and functional but still help to create the humorous and charming appeal started with the first Battletoads game. The first time you hammer someone through the floor like a nail or kick someone with a huge foot you will understand the attraction. There is a problem with flickering on the screen, but having the odd bit of flicker is better than having slowdown so with the limitations of the NES we should be grateful.

Something else that adds to the appeal is the sound, with both the music and FX being of a great quality. The sound in this title is the very definition of retro cool, everything being completely over the top and not taking its self seriously, a brilliant aspect that adds a lot of fun to the proceedings. 

Make your way past the third level and you jump into the little battleship and try and destroy the Queens craft from the outside in a sort of take on asteroids. After the initial homage to the game you have to destroy flying saucers before having a final showdown with the huge rat like space ship. The level excellently breaks up the unrelenting fighting of previous stages and comes as such a surprise that you cannot help but to smile. 

Overall, Battletoads & Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team is a great game with the emphasis set on fun throughout and it has a much better learning curve than the previous Battletoads game - you find yourself getting a little bit further every time you play. This acts as another example of what Rare can do if they want to, retro cool at its most glorious. 

Overall 8/10

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