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Double Dragon

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Released: 1992

Genre: Beat-’em-up

Format reviewed: Sega Genesis/Mega Drive

Publisher: Ballistic

Developer: Accolade

Submitted by: Yiu

Reprogram by Accolade in 1992 as an unlicensed Genesis cartridge. This version of Double Dragon is the closest home port of Technos’ arcade iteration from 1986. The first thing you will notice about this game is it runs really fast. Perhaps this is what the arcade would had been like without the slow down? The second thing you will notice is that the heroes’ girlfriend looks like a transvestite. Perhaps this is the reason why it was rejected by Sega? I don’t know and it’s not important to know why the heroes have such a mannish looking girlfriend or what they do for happy hours. The most important thing is does this game deliver ball kicking actions? Yes, it does. All the arcade trademark moves are here. The punches, the kicks, the back elbow, the flip kick, the head butt, the throw, and the knee bash. While true in every way, there are some issues to be have with the reprogramming. For one, the regular punch, punch, uppercut combo has an issue of being too fast. It comes out so fast that the uppercut will guarantee to miss the target and thus open the heroes for a trashing by the enemies. I find that to adjust to this problem, the button input requires a slight short pulse after the first two punches, follow by an uppercut. Aside from that issue, the kicks for whatever reason, requires an extra kick before a forward roundhouse. That is the kick input needs to be kick, kick, roundhouse as oppose to the arcade’s kick, then roundhouse. The last difference with the arcade is the removal of the extruding wall in the final section of the game. You remember those butter sticks that pop out and kill you in two hits? Well, that’s all gone and I missed them so bad. At least the ending is intact, in fact the heroes’ mannish girlfriend’s buttock actually wiggles in the Genesis version. This alone should be incentive enough to save him…. I mean her.

Double Dragon

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Released: 1990

Genre: Beat-’em-up

Format reviewed: Game Boy

Publisher: Technos

Developer: Technos

Submitted by: Alex Holmes

The Christmas I recieved a Game Boy from my parents was made even better by the fact that one of the games they had bought me to play on it was Double Dragon.  And being a massive fan of the arcade original I dove straight in.

With its cartoon like characters, the Game Boy version is graphically very similar to the NES conversion which pre-dates this release by almost 2 years, but the levels on the GB edition arent quite as faithful to the arcade original as seen on the NES.

They do feature the arcade levels, such as the opening streets level, forest, industrial stage and of course the final level set in the enemy gangs hideout, but they have been redone for  the Game Boy, and although somewhat different from the originals, the arcade versions influence is clear to see.

Plus some parts of the game dont have the feature of walking towards and away from view, giving certain stages a more platform feel, but this doesnt detract from the game and these sections still offer plenty of enemies to fight.

Probably the stand out feature on the Game Boy version is the gameplay itself.  The collision detection is spot on, with attacks feeling like they really connect and a good few moves on offer.  Infact, only the headbutt attack is missing from the coin op original, everything else is there, including the infamous back elbow attack, which is nowhere as cheap as it is in the arcade version.

The difficulty is moderate, with some well timed jumps and attacks required later to avoid the pitfalls in the final stages, and also an excellent two player game is featured, where you can battle it out with a second player through link up, which myself and a friend used to play on a regular basis.  A co-op story mode would have been nice, but the battle mode offers a nice distraction from saving Marion and instead beating a friend unconcious.

Not just an excellent port of an arcade favourite, also quite simply one of the best Game Boy games ever released.

Double Dragon

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Released: 1987

Genre: Beat-’em-up

Format reviewed: Arcade

Publisher: Taito

Developer: Technos

Submitted by: Darran Jones

There’s an ageless quality about Technos’ classic brawler that still makes it enjoyable to play some 20 years after its original release. Granted the Lee brothers’ first adventure was quickly superseded by titles such as Final Fight, The Simpsons and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but at the time of release nothing could touch it and it deservedly became a huge hit.

Interestingly though, for all its bright, cartoony visuals and fast-paced gameplay, Double Dragon is a far from perfect game, and has an annoying little oversight (some might even say flaw) that instantly changes the dynamics of what is initially a very competent combat system.

Using a similar three-button system to Technos’ previous brawler Renegade, the Lee brothers were able to stun opponents with a deft flurry of punches, kick ’em in the mush with an athletic high kick, or – best of all – grab them by their hair and brutally knee them in the face until the poor thug’s visage no doubt resembled Angel’s battered mug in Fight Club. It’s all glorious fun and is extremely well-balanced, until you discover that you can make far better progress through Double Dragon’s five stages by either delivering a deadly elbow with a stab of the punch and jump buttons, or by simply double-tapping the joystick and delivering a devastating head butt.

Amazingly, even when you discover these two ridiculously powerful moves Double Dragon remains immensely enjoyable to play – most probably because of its excellent multiplayer mode.

Teaming up with a friend and ‘accidentally’ kneeing them in the head a few times because you thought they were the enemy never fails to raise a smile, and the final brawl where you frantically try to out-punch your mate in order to win Marian’s affections remains just as thrilling as it was in ’87.

Yes it’s far from perfect, but we’ll pick Double Dragon over its sequels any day of the week, and with the game now available on Xbox Live Arcade, it would appear that the beatings have begun all over again.