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What About the Lysine Contingency…?

The Best Track in the Game #12: Battletoads and Double Dragon

Ah, woodpaneling... So very 70's. So very, Atari...

Battletoads and Double Dragon represented a novel and innovative concept for it’s time.

Bear in mind, this was long before the days of the Marvel vs. Capcom, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, and the general cross-overy nature of the Super Smash Bros. series.

Basically it's like this. I assure that's not 2 different kinds of poop.

By taking 2 action game franchises, and marrying their character rosters and gameplay styles, the folks over at Tradewest and Rare succeeded in accomplishing 2 things:

They made the easiest, and therefore most accessible Battletoads game, and they also made the simplest, and therefore worst traditional Double Dragon game.

Bear in mind, even the very worst of the Double Dragon series (which would be Double Dragon V: The Shadow Falls) is still pretty good.

Okay, I take that back. Double Dragon V was ass... The cartoon was kinda' fun though.

Put together, those 2 facts result in a game that is straightforward, fun, but ultimately kind of mediocre in comparison to the other games in it’s respective series’.

That being said, I spent a good portion of my youth playing Battletoads and Double Dragon, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

You see, when I said Battletoads and Double Dragon was the “most accessible” Battletoads game, what I really meant to say, was that it was the only game in the series that was playable to non-Super Saiyans or non-mutants.

Or Non-Super Saiyan Mutants!

The Battletoads series is well known throughout gaming circles as being SOME OF THE MOST DIFFICULT FUCKING SHIT KNOWN TO MAN, and as such, the majority of us mere mortals simply can’t play them without tearing out our hair and/or breaking the fucking controller.

Pictured: The Result of Attempting to "BEAST" Battletoads.

Personally, I was only able to get about halfway through both Battletoads and it’s Super NES sequel, Battletoads in Battlemaniacs, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t have a problem with that.

In fact I’m proud to say that I got as far as I did.

Pictured: The Day I Beat Battletoads.

Fortunately, Battletoads and Double Dragon is quite a bit easier than your traditional Battletoads game, resulting in my having beat it about a half dozen times or so.

I also beat the Battletoads arcade game way back in the day, but that was when my parents were feedin’ me quarters at a birthday party, so that doesn’t really count.

To be fair though, most of the time I was just playing Aliens vs. Predator AKA THE BEST BEAT 'EM UP EVER.

The one thing I always found be downright mean about Battletoads games, was the fact that they always bait you into thinking that the games’ gonna’ be fun and easy by giving you a cast of a colorful and cartoony characters to play as,

Zitz, Pimple and Rash: Corporate Whores.

and a laughably easy beat ’em up intro stage:


Every fuckin’ game in the series does this, and as a kid you think that’s gonna’ be the whole extent of the gameplay experience, but no, they had to go and change up the gameplay for EVERY FUCKING STAGE.

True, for the time this was a fucking revelation in gameplay variety on a single cartridge, but for those of us who were too dumb to read the back of the box, or failing that, the instruction manual, this really fuckin’ FUCKED you over somethin’ fierce.

Needless to say, I had problems learning the goddamn Turbo Tunnel,

I had problems learning fuckin’ Karnath’s Lair,

and you can sure as hell bet I never had a chance in goddamn fuckin’ Volkmire’s Inferno:

That’s right, I remember the names of the levels.

Hard to forget when they STEAL YOUR SOUL.

Anyway, the fun part about about Battletoads and Double Dragon, was that it kept the varied gameplay of the Battletoads series, but placed more of an emphasis on the sidescrolling beat ’em up action due to the inclusion of the Double Dragons.

Billy and Jimmy Lee: Proud Owners of Pimp-Ass Pompadours.

It should be noted however, that the general gameplay mechanics of the fighting are based purely off of the Battletoads games, meaning the movement controls are “slippery,” running attacks are king, and enemies can only be defeated via flashy, and sometimes dangerously slow, smash attacks.

Make no mistake, this is Battletoads and Double Dragon, not the other way around.

Some of the alternative gameplay functions that were carried over from the Battletoads series were:

A pathetically easy Turbo Tunnel segment,

Also known as, "A Complete Waste of Time."

and a brief rappelling segment akin to the Wookie Tunnel from the original Battletoads:

Complete with Toad 'Morphin Action!

In addition to this, there was also an absurdly difficult Asteroids inspired spaceship shooting sequence in one of the later stages in the game:

Believe it or not, this was the easy part of the stage!

I fuckin’ hated that stage…

Anyway, my fondest memories of Battletoads and Double Dragon, will always be playing it with my Korean buddy from up the street.

Pictured: Said Korean. He made this, not me.

For whatever reasons, he insisted on playing the game, in particular the 3rd stage, while blasting 50 Cent’s “In Da’ Club.”

Fortunately, through the wonders of technology, I can replicate the experience for you!

CLICK HERE

Anyway, the basic plot of the game involved the Battletoad’s eternal nemesis, the delicious Dark Queen, hopping in her new Rat-Ship, The Colossus, and headin’ on down to Earth to wreak some havok.

Mmmm, sexual...

Along the way though, she recruits the aid of the Double Dragon’s regular punching bags, The Shadow Warriors and their leader, the Shadow Boss (they mean “Master”).

Oh Brock, we keep finding ways to slip you in...

This of course results in the Battletoads responding by giving Billy and Jimmy Lee a jingle.

Really!? THIS, was the best you could find?

With the “Ultimate Team” assembled, our heroes set off into the cosmos to whup the Shadow Boss/Master, and kick the Dark Queen right in her sweet, luscious ass.

Mmmm, pixelated...

*Ahem!* Pardon me…

That being said, let’s get down to the real business at hand.

The Best Track in Battletoads and Double Dragon is

The Title Screen

Why?

If ever there was a track that better represented the Battletoad’s style, (aside from their theme music of course) it’d have to be the Title Screen music of Battletoads and Double Dragon.

Despite the game being the product of dual franchises, the music, graphical style, and gameplay of Battletoads and Double Dragon are almost uniformly based around the Battletoads aesthetic.

Indeed, every track in the game includes the heavy metal-ish simulated electric guitar work we’ve all come to expect from the Battletoads games, and I for one love that about it.

Seriously man, this track has wonderful sense of “let’s go kick some ass” to it that really gets you psyched to play the game.

At the same time however, it’s not an overly aggressive piece of music.

Much like the heavy metal-ish sound I just mentioned, the Title Screen track has an appropriate sense of “fun” to it that serves to remind you of the inherently cartoonish nature of the game you’re about to play.

My only complaint about the soundtrack of the game, is the fact that it doesn’t include any of either of the two franchises signature tracks.

Both the Double Dragon and Battletoad’s themes are absent from the game, as are any pieces of existing music from either franchise.

While it may seem fanboy-ish of me to say it, I’m actually surprised that Rare went ahead and made an entirely original soundtrack for the game despite the treasure trove of existing tracks they could have recycled.

Oh well, brownie points to them for putting in the extra hours.

Anyway, it’s been a long time coming, but that’s it for The Best Track in the Game #12.

To make up for the lack of Double Dragon factoids, (I felt I pretty much covered them in some of my earlier posts) here’s the intro of the old Saturday morning cartoon I used to watch way back when!:

Man that shit sucked balls…

I love how they actually went so far as to rhyme “dragon” with “braggin’.”

Also, the repetition of “You (blank) are dragon master, NOW” is just fucking awful…

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“Two-Player Simultaneous Gameplay”

Chicks, whips and helicopters, oh my!

My first experience with the Double Dragon series came in the form of playing Double Dragon II: The Revenge with my older brother on the NES.

Our parent’s didn’t really have any objection to the idea of us playing video games, but after I was born, they insisted that a majority of the games they bought us have “two-player simultaneous gameplay.”

I remember my brother and I liked to say that ’cause it made us feel smart.

Anyways, outside of maybe Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game on the NES, Double Dragon II was the first beat-em-up I can recall playing.

I can attest that my experiences with both games are largely responsible for my lifelong passion for side-scrollers.

As a child I largely preferred playing Ninja Turtles over Double Dragon, not because I thought it was a better game, but because I didn’t suck at it.

… And because you got to be one of the Ninja Turtles in it.

C'mon now, are you telling me you'd pick the guy with the pompadour over a Ninja FUCKING Turtle?

You see, even though my brother kept most of the instruction booklets for our video games, I almost never took the time to read them.

As far I could tell though, my brother did, ’cause throughout all of my childhood he seemed to know every game we owned like the back of his hand.

Well, maybe not as well as Batman knows his, but still...

The differences in the complexity of the gameplay and controls between the two games was typically what made me lean towards Ninja Turtles over Double Dragon, that and the overall difficulty.

The depth of Ninja Turtles II’s gameplay consisted of standard attacks, jumping, jump kicking, and the so-key-to-the-game-you-would-be-crazy-to-play-the-game-without-it-SPECIAL ATTACK.

See diagram below:

Double Dragon on the other hand, utilized an intuitive (or counter-intuitive, depending on how you feel about it) control scheme that permanently mapped the two NES face buttons to specific directional attacks, B for left, A for right.

On top of that, both buttons had to be pressed SIMULTANEOUSLY (love that word) to perform a jump, during which one could perform a jump kick with the additional press of either face button, or a spin kick by pressing both buttons at the height of the jump.

You know that last thing, about the spin kick? Yeah, nobody told me about that.

Whenever I’d play Double Dragon with my brother, or any other game for that matter, I would find myself whining to him:

“How do I play!? What’s this button do!? How did you DOOOOOO thaaaaat…?”

Of course, being as he was the older brother, he wouldn’t tell me… or he’d smack me upside the head and not tell me.

On the off chance we were playing a head-to-head, two-player versus game though, he’d school me with whatever move I wanted to know how to do.

Pretty much every match between my brother and I.

Needless to say, in a two-player co-op game like Double Dragon, I was more of a liability than a help to my brother’s progress, especially if we were playing “Game B” AKA “Let’s-forget-about-saving-the-world-and-beat-the-shit-out-of-each-other, ON ACCIDENT” mode.

I could only occasionally pull off the spin kick through mindless button mashing, and almost never pulled off the SUPER UPPERCUT or instant kill SUPER KNEE, (press both face buttons while recovering from a jump landing) but even so, the game was good fun, provided I had my brother there to do the fighting for me.

I remember shrieking in terror whenever we ran across any of the Abobo’s with hair.

Doesn't take a genius to know which one's more powerful.

Yeah, getting cornered and thrown into a fucking hole by a big asshole named Abobo EVERY FUCKING DAY will do that to you.

EVERY. FUCKING. DAY.

I remember late in level 4 there was a sequence where you are trapped in a one way corridor with spikes on the ceiling.

Jumping is obviously a bad idea here, which is unfortunate, seeing as nearly every useful attack in the game can only be executed after standing up or landing a jump.

In most cases this resulted in massive amounts of fail, typically generated by the long-haired Abobo that decides to show up at the last minute.

That is, unless you were a smart person and stood in the one safe spot in the entire corridor and let your enemies walk face-first into your attacks.

Guess which one I was, I dare you.

All in all, my relationship with Double Dragon II as a child was kind of love-hate, very similar to my relationship to Star Fox.

I wasn’t very good at the game, and only rarely reached the later stages, but had fun with it and kept playing it anyway.

To be honest, I believe I beat Double Dragon II only once, with the help of my brother, of course.

The last stage consisted of standard NES cheapness, including instant death spike traps and “clones” of pretty much every boss you faced in the game up to this point

Even these twin ninja fucks.

At the end of the stage you face off with a pair of purplish-black “shadow clones” of the two player characters, Billy and Jimmy Lee.

They were a pain in the ass, but no more so than your average Abobo.  Although I don’t think they could measure up to an Abobo with hair…

Defeating the “shadow clones” normally results in a premature ending to the game, but because my brother always insisted we play on SUPREME WARRIOR mode, AKA hard mode, we were treated to a showdown with the real final boss.

And let me tell you, that last battle was fucking epic.

The whole thing begins in some sort of underground tunnel, where the only person standing before you is a woman that’s supposed to be Billy’s lady friend, Marian.

Kind of a big deal seeing as she was riddled with bullets at the beginning of the game.

Machine Gun Willy used M-16 on wild Marian! It's not very effective...

As soon as you step forward to embrace/punch Marian, the screen goes black, the girl disappears, and out of nowhere some crazy, cape wearing, green-haired fuck appears on a platform in the background!

Look at 'im... Standin' up there... bein' all cool n'shit... Ass.

The background fades up from black to reveal some sort of galactic/astral landscape where the Troll Doll dude apparently has god-like powers, ’cause believe me, he fights like a cheap bitch.

His move set basically consists punches, gravity defying mule kicks, spin punches, and back flips, lots and lots of back flips…

Oh yeah, and most of the time he’s invisible.

Just like this. Except without the red bullshit.

You’d think that as a kid I’d be pretty annoyed by this pig fucker and his broken ass fighting wouldn’t you?

Well, that would be the case, if I hadn’t drained all of my continues during the fight with the “shadow-clones.”

Behold: The extent of my Double Dragon skills circa 1990.

That’s right, the only time I got to see the last boss, and I didn’t even survive to fight him.

But that’s okay, I didn’t mind, so long as I got to stick around and watch.

Knowing me, I probably annoyed the shit out of my him by talking too much and generally being a pain-in-the-ass little brother, but regardless, I was happy just to be sitting in front of the TV with my brother.

Now that's just about the most adorable thing I've ever seen.

My brother fought long and hard, and by that I mean he stood in place and constantly performed the spin kick attack, causing the boss, invisible or not, to repeatedly walk into his attacks.

Okay maybe “epic” wasn’t the best word to describe the final battle, but as a kid, when your older brother is seconds away from beating the game, a game you’ve never seen the ending to; and the music suddenly changes to this*:

Yeah, you get pretty excited.

Ultimately it was these kind of moments that kept me coming back to Double Dragon, as well as most co-op in general.

Back then, video games were not something I devoted any time to outside of playing alongside my brother or my friends.

Somewhere down the road though, I think my attitude towards gaming changed from viewing it as a privilege, a precious experience granted to me by my friends and family, to that of disposable, time killing entertainment.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy video games, just on a more superficial level.

However, I used to look forward to playing games.

Nowadays I am only able to, and only do play games when I have some sort of gap to fill in my schedule.

I’m never expecting to, or even really want to be playing games, I just kind of fall back on it when I don’t have enough time to watch a movie, or it’s too cold to go for a walk.

Every now and again though, I’ll have a friend over and we’ll sit down in front of the TV for a quick game.

We don’t play all day like we used to, but it’s still every bit as fun as it was when I was a kid.

Games are fun, but they’re always even better with a friend.

Or a brother.

*Sidenote:  This music track is called “Roar of the Double Dragons” and it is used, with good reason, as the final battle theme in most Double Dragon games.

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