Throwback Thursday: When the Battletoads met Double Dragon

This week's release of Rare Replay is a significant one, as it shows that companies like Microsoft still respect gaming history. With this compilation, the team at Rare is able to show off its 30+ year development cycle, starting with simpler games and moving on to more complex Xbox 360 titles like Perfect Dark Zero and Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts.

That said, there are some gaps in the history cycle, mainly due to licensing. There's no way Nintendo would allow Donkey Kong Country or Diddy Kong Racing on another system; and Goldeneye 64 is tied up because who knows who has the James Bond rights anymore. But one considerable omission that could've easily made the cut is Battletoads & Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team.

This sequel, which arrived four years after the original Battletoads debuted on the NES, is one of the best team-ups you'll find in the golden age of gaming, mainly because how effectively Rare makes both teams work. Whether you're playing as a Battletoad or Jimmy or Billy Lee, there are a lot of moves in their arsenal, capable of kicking both human and alien butt.

The story follows the original Battletoads, with the Dark Queen fleeing in defeat and the 'Toads celebrating their victory. It's short-lived, though, as she arrives in a colossal space vehicle, hellbent on taking back the Earth. And she's not alone – the Shadow Warriors, the villains from the Double Dragon series, have joined her ranks. So the 'Toads call upon the Lee brothers to finish them off once and for all, across seven action packed stages.

As before, the game supports two-player co-op, so you can team up the two brothers, two 'Toads or a mixture between the two to kick butt and take names. The game is fun on your own as well, as you do everything from running around platforms to riding on speeder bikes (relax, this one's easier than the original) to flying in space in a mini-game that's a tribute to Atari's Asteroids.

While the game isn't nearly as difficult as the original Battletoads, it's a fun romp nevertheless, with plenty of enemies to pummel, unique gameplay aspects within certain stages (again, Asteroids) and beautiful visuals. What's more, the game didn't just stop on the NES – Tradewest ported it to the SNES and Sega Genesis as well, with various enhancements to make players feel like they weren't being cheated with a "quickie" port. The SNES had better visuals, while the Genesis version runs a bit more smoothly. Both feature expanded tunes, as well as more detail.

No matter which version you go with, you'll find Battletoads & Double Dragon to be an enjoyable little team-up, one that's unlikely but still manages to work thanks to the savvy developers at Rare. Why it wasn't included in the collection is beyond us (probably something due to the Double Dragon rights), but no matter – a cartridge is just as easy to track down in a local game store.

Relive the nostalgia of team-up glory with the video below! (SNES version).