A brief history:
Battletoads is a side-scrolling beat-em-up that originated on the Nintendo in 1991. It was developed by Rare, who also went on to create such massive hits as the Donkey Kong Country series, Donkey Kong 64, Perfect Dark, Goldeneye 007, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Diddy Kong Racing, Banjo Kazooie, Jet Force Gemini....they basically ruled your childhood if you owned a Nintendo 64 or SNES. The original Battletoads game is notorious for being one of the hardest games on the NES, which let's be honest, had a lot of them.
Double Dragon followed a similar formula to that of Battletoads, and followed Billy and Jimmy Lee, brothers who fought to rescue their kidnapped girlfriend. (Yeah, they shared her. Super weird, right?) The series started in 1987 and was created by Taito, the company behind Space Invaders, Bubble Bobble, Takeshi's Challenge, and Operation Wolf. Basically think of any game that is damn near impossible to beat from the 80's/90's, chances are Taito made it.
I use the word "story" very loosely. For reasons unexplained by the game, the Battletoads require the help of the Lee brothers in order to defeat the evil Dark Queen, and the five of them head out to outer space to stop her. What commences is one of the most enjoyable two player experiences on any of the systems that this game came out on back in 1993.
This generation of consoles was no stranger to the two player side-scrolling beat-em-up. Golden Axe, Streets of Rage, Captain America & The Avengers, Power Rangers: The Movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the list goes on and on, and they were rarely anything other than spectacular.
This game is absolutely brutal in later levels, but in the most fun way possible. I'd very much suggest playing with a friend though, as single player can tend to be on the more frustrating side. What I've learned as an adult playing the games I played as a kid is that when playing with a partner, you tend to take the game as a whole a lot less seriously, making it just as fun if you die as it is when you do well.
The gameplay is simple, a linear side-scrolling beat-em-up similar to the famous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game. Some levels do vary slightly, such as limiting your movement to strictly left-right, removing the up-down portion, or some that vary greatly, such as putting you in a space ship in an Asteroids-style level. There are also two modes of two-player, one of which allows you to beat up your co-op partner if you so choose. For the life of me I can't see why they'd include that, seeing as it has absolutely nothing in common with the entire rest of the game, but hey, to each his own...
All characters play the same, basically you choose if you want a green or brown frog, or if you want a blonde dork with a pompadour in red or blue tights.
From the depths of space to the scummy alleyways of earth, your adventure takes you through locations and boss fights including bosses from both Double Dragon, and Battletoads. I have to admit I always loved wailing on popular Double Dragon villain Abobo as a giant talking toad. There is a lot of variety in the game as a whole, and for a game that doesn't allow you to save your progress, it can be completed in a pretty satisfying time, usually around an hour. This is great for single sit-down plays with friends.
There is a bit of a downside in multiplayer. Unlike many other beat-em-ups of this era, if one of the two players loses all of their lives, BOTH players are taken to a "Continue?" screen, and whether or not the dying player continues, both must restart at the beginning of the current level. This can become very frustrating in cases where the levels get exceedingly long. There were many times where P2 would get a Game Over, and when we continued again from the beginning, P1 would would be so close to one as well that it didn't pay to try to finish the level until we killed off P1 as well in order to get more lives. This wouldn't be horrible, except that there is a limited number of continues.
The game feels like so many of the quarter-munching arcade machines I loved so much as a kid (like The Simpsons arcade game) where the idea was to keep making the player die in order to spend more money. The fault here is that you can't keep popping quarters into your Sega/Nintendo. When you are dead, its back to level 1 (That is unless you try the cheat code listed below!).
The Ending: (SPOILER WARNING)
You've assaulted Abobo, beaten Blag, rocked Roper, ripped apart Robo Manus, smashed Shadow Boss, and destroyed the Dark Queen. But depending on how you did it, you actually get one of two endings. I'm going to be honest, this game kicked my pants good. So there were a level or two that I had to skip using the Level Select cheat code. As such, my ending consisted of the final boss calling me a cheater, and returning to the title screen.
But if you're stoic enough to carry on through thick and thin, you're rewarded with a brief scene of Dark Queen promising revenge, then taking off in her tiny getaway ship.
Sadly her vengeful spirit is never fulfilled, as another Battletoads game has never been made since...
Sure, give me crap if you must, but there is no way in hell you can beat this game with the paltry three lives they start you out with. Even then, some of the levels are incredibly long and brutal, so if you need to resort to skipping a level, or just need a few extra lives, try this out:
10 Lives + Level Select:
At the Character Select screen, press Down, Up, Up, Down, C, A, B. A tone will indicate the code is entered correctly. NOTE: If you beat the game with this cheat in, you will not get the "good" ending.
If I haven't convinced you yet, who can say no to this fantastic mid-90s style ad?