Double Dragon

Atari 2600

Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 4

Sound: 2

Gameplay: 1

Overall: 2

I still remember a time when "Double Dragon" was my all time favorite game. One of the cabinets was set up a local Hills store and I was figuratively chained to it every time we entered. I swore to myself that when I got older, I would own every version of the game ever made. I'm still thankful I never followed through on that promise.

To its credit, the game does try. The unforgettable theme song is present as is a compressed version of the first stage song. You do beat people up, weapons are present, and two players can cooperate. All the stages are present, though significantly shortened. The problem is the unrelenting enemy AI and a serious lack of control.

At the most, only two opponents will appear on screen at once and only one will actually attack. The attack is the problem. The moment they make contact with the player, the onslaught begins. Get knocked down the computer simply knocks you back down with a jump kick and another and another; repeat until dead. With only three lives, you'll be lucky if they aren't spent by the end of the first screen. Other problems, like the computers ability to land a right cross when they're actually below you, only make matters worse.

But, all of this wouldn't be so bad if you actually defend yourself. Everything is of course mapped onto one button, so most moves require a combination of joystick movement and button press. You will constantly launch your character into the air for a jump kick when all you wanted was a punch. You'll send a useless elbow backwards when you wanted to kick a guy in front of you. Obviously, the opponent won't miss an opportunity like that. The only effective offense is with a weapon, but these disappear when you move onto the next screen.

Die-hard players will be able to recognize the locales, but the character sprites are hardly human. I'm still waiting for someone to prove to me the characters use their legs to kick. It really looks like something else that won't be mentioned here.

Besides the well-produced theme song, the music is far too limited. The same level one music plays over and over and over and over throughout the entire game. It's not even the complete song, meaning it repeats more often than it would on another console. Sound effects are just stock from other games and unremarkable.

Sometimes you just have to admit a system has limits. Taking an arcade game that needed to be dumbed down for even the most advanced consoles on the market and trying to cram it onto the 2600 is NOT a wise decision. Still, someone obviously thought it was a brilliant move over at Activision, releasing a game that could very well be considered torture in a foreign country.


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Last updated: Saturday, September 25, 2004 09:10 AM