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Game: Battletoads in Battlemaniacs
Song: Ragnarok Canyon
Composer: David Wise
Above: Ragnarok Canyon from Battlemaniacs
Recently we rattled off 14 forgotten franchises we want back, and first on that misty-eyed list was Rare's long-defunct Battletoads. From 1991 to 1994, this series looked like it was going to skyrocket - partially because of its blatant copycatting of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but mostly due to its exaggerated, violent-cartoon combat. It was a strong and much-loved title on the NES, but the SNES sequel, Battlemaniacs, sealed the deal with huge, distinct character sprites, ridiculous attacks and a rockin' space-metal soundtrack.
The game's first level (Ragnarok Canyon) sums up the Battletoads universe pretty well - 'roided out frogs fighting pig monsters decked out in form-fitting leather and GWAR-style spikes, all while a MIDI classic-rock-ish groove plays underneath. It seems utterly idiotic and is a painfully obvious attempt to tap into the TMNT craze of the day, but looking back, the excess actually worked for the game and made Battlemaniacs a cleverer (and plain better) game than just about any Ninja Turtles game to date. I mean, the Battletoads fly a helicopter in space - how can you not give in to the stupid?
Above: The title screen goes from an inspiring trumpet solo to YYYYEAAAH
Above: Late in the game you'll come to the Dark Tower, and this song made the already tense action feel even more epic. The perfect song for a last level
I couldn't find anything that specifically said David Wise was behind the music, but considering his roles with Rare and the original Battletoads, I'd say it's a fair bet he handled Battlemaniacs as well. In fact, I think the Dark Tower song, at times, sounds straight out of Wizards & Warriors, and this Snake Pit track hints what Wise would do with Donkey Kong Country just a couple of years later.
Personal anecdote about Ragnarok Canyon: this particular song was stuck in my head for about a week in 2002 as I roamed my college campus trying to find all my classes. I'd burned a VGM CD and even though it held about 100 or so tracks, this is the one that I hummed for days. Let me know next week if that happened to you after hearing this (or lie!).
Game music of the day: Snake Eater
The Bond-ish theme song from Norihiko Hibino
Game music of the day: Panzer Dragoon
Whimsical "Flight" by Yoshitaka Azuma
Game music of the day: Wizards & Warriors
Amazing title screen by David Wise
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