Thursday 28 April 2016

Double Dragon (Atari 2600 review)

Developer: Activision
Publisher: Activision
Released: 1989

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

Playing as brothers Billy and Jimmy Lee your mission is to rescue Marion who's been kidnapped by the Black Warriors gang. The game consists of four missions (City Slums, Industrial Areas, City Outskirts and The Enemy Base) and it supports either solo play or two players co-operatively. Your attacks include four moves (Punch, Elbow Punch, Kick and Jump Kick) and each is executed by pressing the fire button plus a direction on the joystick; there's also weapons to pick up such as a bat, knife or oil drum. Things get off to a great start with an outstanding rendition of the main Double Dragon theme; unfortunately that's where the positives end. The brawling is clumsy and the inept gameplay leaves a lot to be desired. For starters, the majority of your attacks are useless, especially the Punch, as its tiny range means enemies will repeatedly get the first shot in. Even relying on a Jump Kick is risky as a downed opponent will quickly stand up and pummel you before your feet touch the ground! On a similar note, if you get knocked down expect to be beaten to a pulp the split-second you stand up; enemies give you no chance and drain your life-bar in a very cheap manner. 'Complimenting' this is the fact that you don't even have to be lined up on the same plane as an enemy to take damage as they can freely attack despite the clear vertical distance. All of these issues make the game extremely challenging and you only have three lives and zero continues. There's also a mode where two players can face-off in a one-on-one battle; however, the core gameplay is so lousy that it's just not worth the time or effort.
Double Dragon is a brave attempt to bring the Arcade classic onto the underpowered Atari 2600 but it's a shoddy port with irritating A.I. and lacklustre gameplay. The haphazard programming means it's almost unplayable and overall it's easily the worst version of the game I've experienced so far!

Random trivia: The game was also released on the Atari 7800 in late 1989.

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