"There’s a reason for this irritating flaw, though: Rare wanted you to play with a friend. Though the game lets thugs gang up on you and throw you into an endless circle of punishment, you and a buddy can turn the tables. One of you can be a toad, the other a human. Or maybe you both like characters named after skin ailments. Whatever the case, having a friend along improves the experience."
The Dark Queen’s spaceship is cruising toward Earth and the only ones who can save mankind are three mutated toads named Zits, Pimple and Rash. The cowardly heroes have also called in Billy and Jimmy, two street brawlers from way back who just might have the strength to save us all. Join the five heroes as they battle through the beat-em-up gauntlet that is Battletoads & Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team. Or, if you value your sanity, skip it altogether and play something better. Unless a friend is along for the ride, the game is sheer drudgery. Even its highlights feel like they were ripped from better titles, then mutilated.
Consider a moment in the second level where you dash through a sterile hallway and suddenly find yourself on a hover pod. In Battletoads, a similar situation supplied a level that people remember to this day for its nail-biting intensity. Here, the concept falls flat. For one thing, the speed is gone. You dodge a few barrels and fences, kick a few thugs that approach from behind and then the ride ends. What about the thrill of flying through space while lava hissed and bubbled beneath you? It’s gone.
Sadly, that hover pod ride is one of this game’s few highlights. It starts out even worse. The opening stage finds you dropped onto the deck of a space cruiser. The concept sounds great, and it should have been. Unfortunately, the game's design stabs it in the back. As you work your way to the right, punching astronauts and getting rammed from behind because your stupid toad has lifted a thug over his head—or because Billy is humping a robotic sentry—you’ll find that you either move too swiftly or not quickly enough at all.
You get to pick which irritating extreme you’d prefer. Toads are slow, humans fast. None of the protagonists control in a natural fashion and they easily fall victim to cheap enemy shots unless you carefully watch the sides. When you kick an opponent, he’ll almost certainly fly off the side of the screen and then return at the most inconvenient of moments, ready for more action.
Boss encounters only magnify the frustration. Your foes often can brutalize you from a safe distance. Getting in close for an attack is frustrating. If you take a hit, you’ll reel about drunkenly and continue to suffer until your life meter is completely drained and one of your lives is lost. Then you’ll return to the scene, temporarily invincible. Get in a few hits and you’re dead again. This process repeats until you run out of lives, or the boss finally goes down for the count.
There’s a reason for this irritating flaw, though: Rare wanted you to play with a friend. Though the game lets thugs gang up on you and throw you into an endless circle of punishment, you and a buddy can turn the tables. One of you can be a toad, the other a human. Or maybe you both like characters named after skin ailments. Whatever the case, having a friend along improves the experience.
The thing is, a game like this should be fun even without a friend. What about those nights alone when you just want to kick a little enemy butt? Play the original Battletoads, or maybe just fight the dark lord in the original Double Dragon. One thing’s certain: either of those ‘pure’ games is better than this disgusting imitator. You don’t want to play this one. You really don’t.
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Staff review by Jason Venter (June 02, 2005)
Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.
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