Friday 17 July 2015

Double Dragon (NES review)

Developer: Technōs Japan
Publisher: Tradewest
Released: 1988

Double Dragon is a side-scrolling beat-em-up that was first released in the Arcades in 1987.

It consists of four levels that take place in a City Slum, an Industrial Area, a Forest and a Hideout. To start with you only have punches, kicks and jumps at your disposal but as you beat up enemies your heart metre on the bottom-left increases. Once you reach certain amounts you'll gain access to additional moves such as jump kicks and throws that make the brawling action more interesting. To do the most damage you'll want to pick up one of the many weapons including baseball bats, knives, oil drums and dynamite. Each one is satisfying but unfortunately they disappear once you leave the current screen. Stages 1 and 2 are short but packed full of good beat-em-up action and it's even possible to interact with the environment and climb ladders to scale buildings. Stages 3 and 4 are longer and more of a grind as larger groups of enemies come your way. The combat suddenly becomes very clunky and it seems like complete luck whether you hit an enemy or take damage yourself when engaged in a scuffle. It's also annoyingly difficult to repeat successful attack patterns with any consistency unless you have a turbo controller. There's some minor platforming involved in these two stages and while it's not overly difficult it's possible to fall off before you've even reached the edge! The graphics are good but there's a fair bit of flicker and weird screen shifting. The music is some of the best the NES has to offer with many memorable tracks. There's also a one-on-one fighting mode with beefier sprites but each match takes forever and it's pretty boring.

Double Dragon is literally a game of two halves; the first two levels are fun with solid controls and a fair level of difficulty. The last two stages are extremely cheap though with frustrating gameplay and imprecise brawling that ends things on a sour note.

Random trivia: The second level boss has a rather amusing glitch whereby you can simply walk back down the ladders you've just climbed up until you hear a sound confirming that he's been defeated!

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