Double Dragon

Xbox Live Arcade

Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 8

Sound: 9

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 7


Double Dragon is a landmark beat-em-up that started what can only be considered the "flood." Nearly every developer jumped on the bandwagon and tried their hand at this popular arcade genre. Some worked, some didn't. Simply put, if you haven't played Double Dragon, you're not a fan of the genre. It's impossible to deny this games relevance to late 80's-early 90's arcades.

doubledragonxbox360live1.jpg (96244 bytes)As the quintessential brawler, Double Dragon tells the clichéd story of Billy and Jimmy Lee. Marion, who gets knocked out cold by a gang in the opening moments, has been kidnapped. It's up to the two heroes (or one if you're playing solo) to tackle the perpetrators and win your girl back. Does the game play still hold up here in late 2007? Mostly.

Palette swapped baddies move toward your character at a lumbering pace and then it all begins. It's one three-hit combo after another, knocking back the kidnappers one at a time. There's the occasional boss (only three total), but the majority of these goons are low lives that can hardly take a punch.

They'll bring bats, whips, and knives, which you're able to knock free from their hands, turning the tables to a skilled players side. It's the same style of gameplay any gamer who's over the age of 13 has experienced on numerous occasions.

What really drags this classic is the slowdown. Seemingly random at times, there can be only one or two sprites on the screen at once and you'll be treated to the game in unintentional slow-mo. This is retained in the Xbox Live port for accuracy, though newcomers will find this jarring. Credit is due for authenticity, yet there's no benefit in keeping this intact.

There are a few other minor problems too. Combos allow for opponents to land shots between punches, and while not as cheap as it would be in the familiar NES port, it's still an annoying way to suck life from the player. This is a short affair as well, running a total of four stages, and none of them are particularly long. Expect to spend a half hour at the most before taking down the final boss and saving Marion.

For everything that's wrong with this classic, there's something else that's ever so right. When everything is on and running at full speed, it's an experience. The sound of your fists breaking through the opponent's skulls is one unmatched to this day. The soundtrack is masterful years later and this Xbox Live edition remixes the opening theme song with care. A nicely tweaked enhanced graphics option also makes this easier on the eyes in HD.

Online play runs smoothly, though many could likely mistake the slowdown for lag. Achievements are creative, including a special one for clearing a broken bridge in level three without falling in the water. Another awards dedicated players for beating the game without continuing, making this a nice mix of awards for both newcomers and long time players.

Yes, games have come and gone in the beat-em-up category, and many have managed to surpass Double Dragon's greatness (most of them from Capcom). However, there's no reason you can't enjoy DD if you've ever played other classics like Final Fight. It remains a key ingredient in video game history for a reason, and it's addictive co-op remains intact.


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Last updated: Wednesday, May 30, 2007 09:41 PM