Double Dragon III


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 9

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 8

You can be sure there were quite a few people baffled when they stepped up the arcade cabinet for "Double Dragon 3." Wildly different (not in a good way) than its predecessors, the game was a major step back for the series. On the NES, things were just a little different.

Though it follows the same basic storyline (a search for the fabled Rosetta Stones), the gameplay, stage structure, and graphics were completely changed. All of this was for the better and the title slides right in there with the previous two entries on the console. The difficulty is a bit off, but with some time, you can make progress.

The Lee brothers make a return more or less intact from "Double Dragon II." Most of their move set remains, though some new throws (including a spectacular, yet hard to pull off, flipping toss) have been added to their repertoire. The hurricane kick is still as deadly as it was in "II" and if two players can pull it off in tandem, look out. Even some of the enemies have team-up maneuvers. Oddly, the brothers can no longer throw out of a grapple, something that seems to be the norm in a beat-em-up.

Weapons of course play a role, but the way they are handled is just a little more than ridiculous. Once you have picked up a weapon and knock out the original carrier, it disappears. Even worse, it can be really hard to tell whether or not an enemy is actually carrying a weapon. It would be nice to know whom you should attack first in a crowd.

It's not all about the Lee's this time either. Certain bosses, when defeated, will join your group, a feature carried over from the arcade. Each of these new additions can radically change the way you play the game and offer up some great play variety, something that is usually lacking in a genre like this. This also happens to be the only way to earn extra characters. From the start, if you die, it's game over. Once earned, you can continue using the extra attackers until they expire. You can only continue via a code, and even then, it's only in certain stages.

This is easily the best looking game in the series with great looking sprites, each filled with color. Flicker is apparent, but it never really gets in the way of the action. Things get a little worse during co-op play, but again, never enough to ruin the gameplay. Animation is surprisingly fluid, especially when running. Combos come off smoothly and look painful, just like they should be.

Starting off with a stirring rendition of the unforgettable theme this series is known for, the soundtrack continues on an upswing over the rather flat music of the first sequel. Once into the streets, the music stays on a high point it doesn't come down from for the rest of the game. Each punch connects in brutal fashion, even if it is not very realistic.

No, this isn't a game that reinvents a genre and sets the world on fire. That doesn't make it any less enjoyable. This is a great beat-em-up, probably the best on the system next to Capcom's awesome "Mighty Final Fight." You could even say it holds up well when stacked against some of the 16-bit offerings (of which there are many, to say the least).


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Last updated: Monday, January 03, 2005 08:22 AM