It's an arguable point that Double Dragon started the
whole beat-em-up genre. You know, the type where you control
some character who has to wander through a town and
beat the crap out of every bad guy nearby. It's even more startling
when you learn that the game that started it all really isn't all
As the opening screen states, Marian is standing in the middle of the
street when a big bad dude comes up, slugs her in the stomach, slings
her over his shoulder and takes her off. This evil gang (supposedly
being led by the hero's brother Jimmy), for whatever reason, decided
to capture her. Well, as Billy Lee, you're off to rescue your girlfriend.
The game's a simple walk forward and smash the crud out of any bad guys.
However, this is Tradewest's version of the arcade hit. The most
glaring omission is the lack of a two player mode. Yep, this is a
one player only affair, so don't expect to plow through the bad guys
with a friend. To compensate, a tournament mode is included that
allows you to pick one of the game's characters and pit them together
in a small enclosed arena. These scenes can be played in two player,
although the game simply ends once one persons dies...there's no
continuity in this mode, just quick bursts of fun. They also play a bit
differently, with different sets of moves and the ability to run. It's nice to play
as the enemy characters, and everyone is drawn quite a bit
bigger and better looking than in the actual game.
Another interesting twist is that Billy Lee gains more techniques as
the game goes on. Each time you hit an enemy, you get some heart points.
Once that number reaches 1000, you gain another technique. Although this
is an interesting way to introduce new techniques, it's kinda stupid to
start the game without the ability to jump kick. Some of the moves are
rather cool though, like punching enemies in the face when they're lying
on the ground. If that wasn't enough, Tradewest added a couple areas
in the game that weren't in the arcade version (like the cave in level 3.)
The biggest gripe I have about this game is the way it's controlled. In
many beat-em-ups, once you landed a hit on an enemy, he/she remains stunned
until you deliver another hit. Not so here. Punches barely seem to stun
bad guys and they often return the favor before you can dodge. Similarly,
two people can punch each other at the same time inflicting damage. Since
you're limited to three lives, simply punching and kicking enemies (especially
bosses) will get you killed before far, so the next viable move is the jump
kick. But too many enemies duck your attacks and hit you from the back.
Since you'll get hit so often, you'll spend more time on the ground than
you really want to. Additionally, weapons disappear very quickly in this
game (and some don't give heart points) so you don't have much of an
opportunity to take advantage of them.
Graphically the game is a bit cartoonish, except as mentioned above in the
tournament mode. The opening title and first level tune are quite good,
but everything takes a real big nose dive at level 3. There's one spot
that sounds like a radio tranceiver gone haywire for about ten seconds.
I just have to wonder what the hell the composer was thinking when he
put this section in. The sound effects are the generic punches and thuds,
nothing special really.
Double Dragon isn't necessarily a bad game...it just gets boring constantly
using two moves against enemies, most of which they dodge and counterattack
anyway. There's no continuing either, so once you lose all of your lives,
it's Game Over for good. All in all, Double Dragon is good played in
a 15 minute time periods. Otherwise the action will become too repetetive
to really tolerate for a long amount of time. You probably won't survive
much longer than that anyway.