If given the choice, would you rather be a dragon-powered martial arts master, or a shape-shifting amphibian? The SNES title Battletoads & Double Dragon gives you the freedom to choose between these two factions, or team them up to take down a veritable army of rats, cyborgs, and shadows. But, after the dust has settled, and the crossover is finished, one question remains: who kicks badguy butt better, Double Dragons' Billy and Jimmy Lee, or the Battletoads, Rash, Pimple, and Zitz?
First game: Battletoads (NES)
When it comes to combat, this game is the bee's knees. There weren't many opportunities for two players to work together on the NES, but this one let you and a co-toad fight an endless rat army. However, the game's also despicably difficult, like, Superman taking Viagra hard. If you ask anyone who survived the '80s what the hardest game of that era was, their eyes will glaze over, lingering on a distant memory, and from their mouths will escape four haunted words: "Battletoads. The hoverbike level."
Best game: Battletoads Arcade
The Battletoads arcade game retained the wild, shape-shifting brawling found in the other games, but ramped it up with a surprising layer of mega-violence. Blood gushed from any and everything. The 'toads finished their ratty foes by decapitating them with sawblade feet or smashing them into piles of meat with hammer-fists. The game's not all about the ultra-violence, though, because it combines the fun fisticuffs with varied gameplay elements, such as vehicular combat and weapons.
Biggest Embarrassment: Battletoads the Animated Series
Hungry to cash-in on the mutant hero craze spawned by the Ninja Turtles, DiC created Battletoads, the Animated Series ... and it ran for precisely one episode. It's hard to say whether the sub par animation, the unenthusiastic voice work, or the brain dead story and characters did it in, but we're happy that this toad croaked early.
Breakout character: Dark Queen.
Vicious villains are a dime-a-dozen, but Dark Queen's ability to both taunt the 'toads and look sexy helps her helps her stand out amidst a sea of Shredder knockoffs and Cobra Commander wannabes. Her looks are a cross between Elvira and Dracula, and most of her in-game dialogue consists of profoundly un-clever puns from when she insults the 'toads between levels. And that hair! That beehive hairdo could hold enough honey to keep Winnie the Pooh satisfied. But, in a time where princesses and queens were there to be kidnapped, the Dark Queen turned the depiction of video game matriarchy on its head and boldly declared that she'd be the one doing the kidnapping.
First game: Double Dragon
Hottie Marion's been kidnapped, and only Billy and Jimmy Lee (also known as Bimmy and Jimmy Lee, thanks to the mistranslated end credits), can rescue their girlfriend. Yeah, this one gal's dating super buff twin martial artists, which means she's probably the envy of every girl in the city. Now, the arcade version of the Double Dragons' first outing allowed for two-player simultaneous co-op. The NES version, however, did not. But, what it did feature was brawling action inspired by the Bruce Lee flicks of old, complete with a level-up system and a bevy of foes to beat down. Double Dragons' sequels are all, objectively, superior games, with their better implementation of two players, tighter controls, and better ... well, everything. However, there's something charming about the original Double Dragon that persists to this day; there's a joy in watching as these tiny, cartoon-faced characters gently pummel each other.
Best game: Double Dragon Neon
This modernized remake of the original Double Dragon has pretty much everything you could ever want from a beat 'em up. Massive replayability, the ability to level up your characters, and a fight system that makes every moment of combat an absolute blast. Plus the game's funny, which is a rarity. This 2012 game wears its' '80s roots with pride. Neon lighting and electronica music pulses at you in every stage. The brothers' trade playful banter, the main villain, (the over-dramatic Skullmageddon), makes constant bone puns and has a voice as threatening as a bowl of milk. Plus you can high-five, breakdance, and revive your fallen bro by inserting a pencil into a cassette and twisting furiously, a reference that will probably be lost on anyone born after 1997.
Biggest Embarrassment: Double Dragon: The Movie
Terrible special effects, terrible costumes, terrible acting, terrible writing. In case you didn't catch it, the Double Dragon movie is terrible. It's so bad that it starts coming back around and becomes ironically good, so feel free to enjoy this flick with a group of snarky-mouthed friends.
Breakout character: Abobo
Most of Double Dragons' enemy lineup are forgettable foes, but there's something about this big doofus that sticks with you. Maybe it's his luxurious 'stache/unhappy face, or his poor grammar, but Abobo's the kind of bad guy you secretly root for, the one who's not so much bad as he is misguided. He's even popular enough to star in his own indie game, Abobo's Big Adventure.
Winner: Double Dragon
The last game to feature the Battletoads came out in 1996. Billy and Jimmy Lee, however, have had numerous guest appearances in other games, an animated series that ran for more than one episode, and a 2012 remake that blew critics and fans away. Yes, the Double Dragons are the clear winner here, but that doesn't mean the world isn't ready for another Battletoads game ... so long as whoever's making it leaves the damn hoverbike level out of it.