Double Dragon


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 7

Sound: 9

Gameplay: 7.5

Overall: 7.5

Fact: Double Dragon was THE beat-em-up that started the "flood." Every developer, even companies that weren't game developers 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 allowed to be a fan of this style of game. You can't deny this games relevance to late 80's-early 90's arcades.

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. Guess what? Yeah, it's up to the two heroes (or one if you're a lonely person) to tackle the perpetrators and win your girl back. Does the gameplay still hold up here in late 2003? Mostly.

Palette swapped baddies move toward your character at a lumbering pace and then it all begins. One 3-hit combo after another, knocking back these sicko's one at a time. There's the occasional boss (only 3 total really), but the majority of these goons are low lives who 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 in an instant. There's really nothing to complain about here. 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 one down is the slowdown. Seemingly random at times, there can be only one or two guys on the screen at once and you'll be treated to the game in unintentional slow-mo.

No, it's not bullet time. That wasn't invented yet. There are a few other minor problems too. Hit detection can be spotty at times giving your opponents a free look at your face that you really don't need. Jumping also seems to give people problems. To this day people can't make the bridge jump in level 3. The entire game is also short.....real short. 4 stages, and none of them are particularly long.

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 opponents skulls is one unmatched to this day and that soundtrack...15 years later and it's still on many peoples top 5 all time list. The style of the characters is also unique; not quite anime, not quite realistic. Regardless, it works. The 2-player co-op is great and you're sure to have some fights break out during the game since your allowed to cheap shot your friend (or that really annoying 5 year old in the arcade who refuses to move right).

Yes, games have come and gone in the beat-em-up category, and many have managed to surpass this games greatness (a lot of 'em from Capcom...those guys know what they're doing). However, there's no reason not to enjoy DD if you've ever played other classics like Final Fight. It may seem a bit tame, yes, but there's no denying the developers had "it" when developing this one. If you're too young to remember this one or (gasp!) never heard of it, then be assured that this is one of those old games you need to play.


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Last updated: Sunday, January 30, 2005 05:42 PM