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Double Dragon (Atari 2600) artwork

Double Dragon (Atari 2600) review

"A very ambitious adaptation for Atari 2600"

If anything, Double Dragon for Atari 2600 would be praised as having lots of ambition on adapting an arcade game straight into a one-button console with limited use of graphical design. The game was also one of the few titles on that system where you could actually finish if you were to make it that far into it, and even provided a two player co-op over the NES title overall.

This of course would not outweigh the awful and overly awkward difficult design of gameplay. As stated, the VCS controller had but one button to deal with the three button configuration of the arcade original, this meant that you would use combinations of joystick and the sole button to create moves like basic punches and kicks, to advance moves like flying kicks and elbows. This was a challenge being that you would had to stand in place in order to create any move against the opponents all the while the AI enemies would dance around you hitting you from all sides until your health simply diminishes before you get a chance to land a hit back. Frustration ensues.

Graphical and sound wise, Double Dragon simply compares to any other Atari 2600 title with the same familiar feel, although sprites used for the player and the enemy are practically the same, albeit having a different color palette. In fact, the enemies even have the same move list which includes the devastating elbow strike. This is no fun knowing that said opponents can use said move on you a lot more often than you would ever hope in pulling it off successfully, which also adds to the frustration of trying to survive more than two screens into the game.

There are no extra men earned or continues. Once your lives are depleted its back to the beginning of the game should you decide on craving more punishment from this adaptation. For those who seek a challenge with such a handicap, Double Dragon for VCS would be the ultimate title to conquer. Even with such an infuriating gameplay, you still have enough nostalgic love on playing an Atari 2600 title that you would go back in playing the game once again, hoping that your past experiences would add to the experience in progressing more and hopefully beat it.

I would imagine acquiring a physical cartridge would be a challenge in itself. More often than not, the likes of Pac-Man and Defender are more common than this title, and owning it would just add to the nostalgic fix you have for retro gaming. Indeed, Double Dragon on Atari 2600 is quite the oddity, even if it is such a chore to play through.


CptRetroBlue's avatar
Community review by CptRetroBlue (January 08, 2019)

Cpt. Retro likes old school gaming the most and grew up playing Arcade games in Mexico. He also loves talking about retrogaming.

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Masters posted January 18, 2019:

I just checked out the screenshots of this game and was surprised by how well they pulled it off given the obvious limitations. What's funny though, is that the box apparently said "NO QUARTERS REQUIRED," suggesting that you were getting the arcade experience, which is obviously a joke. One last thing: as you mentioned, there was 2-player simultaneous action available here... which REALLY shames the NES version.
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CptRetroBlue posted January 18, 2019:

Ha ha, yeah, even the Atari 2600 would get 2 players to duke it out while the NES you had to wait until your friend died like some 1 player games on the system. And you are right, the graphics are pretty well done for said title on Atari but unfortunately it would be the only positive thing besides two players simultaneously that it featured.

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