Sunday 26 July 2015

Double Dragon (Master System review)

Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1988

Double Dragon is a side-scrolling beat-em-up that supports enhanced audio with the optional FM Sound Unit.

There's four levels and despite only two buttons on the controller there's a good amount of moves you can perform including jump kicks, head butts and shoulder throws. Unfortunately you can't jump on top of a downed opponent in this version. The game suffers from a similar problem to the Atari Lynx port whereby if you jump kick an enemy they'll be back on their feet before you even reach the ground! As a result you'll receive many cheap and unavoidable hits. It's also extremely difficult to consistently pull off a combo without an enemy interrupting you with their own kicks and punches. This leads to you repeatedly using jump kicks that do little damage but provide the safest option even though it defeats the purpose of a brawler! A number of weapons are available including bats and knifes but they're woefully underpowered and it takes ages to defeat enemies. The collision detection also seems a bit off when using them as even though you can clearly see it hitting a target the game won't register anything. Enemies have a tendency to disappear just off screen so you have to patiently wait for them to re-enter before you can attack them. A few sections from the Arcades are missing and there's no option to climb ladders or fences to reach higher areas. The graphics have lots of detail but poor animation and unfortunately there's an inordinate amount of sprite flicker and enemies that merge into one another if they're close together! The music is okay but it's a far cry from the excellent NES variations.

Double Dragon on the Master System is the inferior 8-bit console port of the Arcade classic and it falls way behind even the flawed NES version. The beat-em-up action just isn't very enjoyable and the multitude of technical issues make for a frustrating and unsatisfying experience.

Random trivia: The game features unlimited continues until you reach the last stage. However, if you perform 20-30 jump kicks at the start of the final level you'll now have as many credits as you want!

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