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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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The Best Track in the Game #6: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Yes, that is in fact a WWF European Championship belt. Hey, everybody needs a hobby.

After yesterday’s Zelda rant, I figured I should follow thing’s up with a Best Track in the Game of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

A Link to the Past was the only Zelda game released on the Super NES, and with good reason.

For Zelda fans, everything they remembered and loved about the original NES Zelda, as well as a host of new improvements and innovations that have since become adopted as standard elements in nearly every Zelda game since.

Despite the fact that the publication was owned and operated by Nintendo, it’s worth noting that Nintendo Power magazine had A Link to the Past rated as their #1 game for no less than 5 consecutive years.

That’s roughly a whole console generation to you and me.

Well... Maybe just me.

A Link to the Past was one of those games that I just didn’t get.

As a child, I played A Link to the Past exclusively at my Double Dragon neighbor’s house, thusly placing me in a positive and energetic environment to play the game, while at the same time limiting my actual hands-on face time with it.

As a result, I didn’t end up hating A Link to the Past the same way I did The Legend of Zelda, and Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link.

Don’t get me wrong, the game still made me feel dumb, just not to the same extent as those that came before it.

I don't think this guy needed help to feel dumb. God rest his soul.

We already went over that yesterday though, so for today we’re gonna’ keep things on a positive note.

For the most part.

Improvements to the gameplay of A Link to the Past included a greatly expanded inventory of unique items and equipment, including the Pegasus Boots for running, and the wicked-awesome Hookshot for, well, hooking and shooting things.

Yeah, even I thought the Hookshot was pretty pimp.

Not as cool as the motherfuckin' Sky Hook though!

Like previous games in the series, secret passages and sealed off areas were scattered across the map.

This time around however, much of the player’s ability to explore the environment was largely tied to the abilities given to them by various items they acquire throughout the adventure.

For instance, those black stones that I mentioned in yesterday’s post, were only able to be picked up upon acquiring the Titan’s Mitt in one of the games earlier dungeons.

8TH. FUCKING. DUNGEON

Whatever man, fuck you.¬† I beat the game eventually…

In addition to the new equipment, the gameplay was also enhanced¬† by the expansion of Zelda’s famous dungeons into multi-tiered structures with numerous floors.

This element of the gameplay not only increased the overall size of the game, (which was already made larger by the increased storage capacity of the Super NES’ cartridges) it also had a hand in enhancing the complexity of some puzzles.

A common element to many puzzles in A Link to the Past involved dropping down to lower floors in the dungeon from specific locations to find otherwise unreachable rooms or treasures.

In many cases, both as a child and just recently when I finally finished the game, I found that my simple, non-Zelda attuned mind had difficulty memorizing the layouts of multi-tiered dungeons, largely due to the top-down view.

First screen of the game: "Holy shit! I'm lost!"

From a bird’s eye view, room layouts become familiar and easy to remember, however when it comes time to connect those rooms into a coherent, interconnected whole, I just couldn’t do it.

I know, I know, “Use the map dumbass.”

Well, for your information, I did, and it helped sometimes, but not when I got lost.

Speaking of “lost,” did I mention that A Link to the Past introduced the popular Zelda concept of “The Dark World?”

It's okay, I don't know what the hell this is either. It's got that one dude from Scarface in it though, so yay!

The Dark World in A Link to the Past, was a unique concept that took the classic overworld map of Hyrule used in the previous games in the series, and effectively doubled it in size.

You see, a key element in the storyline of A Link to the Past involves Hyrule’s resident douchebag, Ganon, and his ownership of a “Golden Power” that created a twisted parallel world.

This parallel world became layered on top of the original Hyrule, and could be accessed by way of numerous portals scattered across the map, as well as through the use of the awesome Magic Mirror.

Magic Mirror, more like Magic "Get The Fuck Out of Jail Free" Mirror. Bless you Nintendo...

By giving the player two maps that they could transport between at will, Nintendo succeeded in not only creating a massive game world, but also in pissing me off by creating various puzzles and secrets that could only be solved or discovered through careful observation and manipulation of how the two worlds connected.

Trust me, it always sucks to see something cool just down the hill, only to find that it’s inaccessible unless you jump back and forth between the two worlds and put your non-linear thinking cap on.

My non-linear brain gets stumped by “creamy” or “chunky.”

SUPER CHUNK!!!? Man, now I'll never be able to decide...

As icing on the Zelda cake, A Link to the Past featured a wonderfully composed and technically advanced soundtrack for it’s time.

Koji Kondo, the legend that brought us nearly every major Mario and Zelda soundtrack, served as A Link to the Past’s composer.

... Okay, apparently he's also a fuckin' Nazi. Go figure.

Like many of the video games from major franchises of the time, A Link to the Past’s soundtrack was a thematic mix of old and new.

Many of the tracks and audio cues (I.E. the “item get” and “secret uncovered” cues) present in the previous games were remixed to great effect.

Fortunately, Mr. Kondo also succeeded in creating a number of brand new tracks that managed to live up to expectations, with some, like the Hyrule Castle theme, being utilized in future games, thusly securing their place in thematic history.

That being said, I can’t believe we’re already there, but it’s time for the Azn Badger to reveal that the Best Track in the Game is

Overworld Theme (Dark World Version)

Why?

*Warning!* Cock-sucking up ahead! *Warning!*

The Dark World theme is the Armored Armadillo stage theme of A Link to the Past.

You listen to it a fuck ton of times throughout the game, and yet you relish every moment of it.

Me saying that about a piece of music featured in a game I mostly hate, speaks volumes as to the quality of this track.

I love that it has an element of severity, of, dare I say it, “darkness,” that seems to resonate from the faux midi strings.

The Dark World Theme is a terrific action and adventure track that goes together all too well with the bizarre and hostile landscape it inhabits.

End cock-sucking.

Runner-Up:

Overworld Theme

Based on it’s pedigree, most would expect me to declare the Super NES version of The Overworld Theme as The Best Track in the Game for A Link to the Past.

However, in my opinion, I feel that this particular remix is a little weak when compared to some other versions.

The original Overworld Theme was tinny and hollow, but it had a strength to it, a soul, that made it timeless.

This version feels a little too “pokey” to me, like it really is just the theme music of a little boy traipsing through the woods on a bright sunny day.

To me, the Zelda Theme has always been about bombast and adventure, about a larger than life fantasy that demands a bold and powerful theme so audacious that it would sound downright ridiculous when played over anything pertaining to real life.

Unfortunately, no one told these guys.

In my eyes, the Zelda Theme has yet to be done justice, even when presented in orchestral form:

To me, this version has the appropriately “big” sound to it, however it’s conducted far too slow a pace.

It’s a wonderful composition, and many great renditions of it exist, however I feel that we have yet to see the definitive version of the Zelda Theme.

That being said, that’s all I’ve got to say about The Best Track in the Game this time around.

Have a good night watching Lost and not reading my blog.

Imma’ watch my brand spankin’ new DVD of Fire of Conscience or some shit.

Payce.

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