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Double Dragon (Genesis) artwork

Double Dragon (Genesis) review


"First, the good news. Finally, a port of the classic beat 'em up Double Dragon that actually looks the part. This Genesis version is colourful, relatively detailed, and makes the 8-bit NES and SMS versions of the same game look like they used a entirely different coin-op as a model. "



First, the good news. Finally, a port of the classic beat 'em up Double Dragon that actually looks the part. This Genesis version is colourful, relatively detailed, and makes the 8-bit NES and SMS versions of the same game look like they used a entirely different coin-op as a model.

Also, all the whole gang is here - that superb cast that made the arcade game a classic. Abobo the suplexing giant appears, and in a multitude of colours, lest Technos fail to be politically correct. Then, a welcome contradiction is offered up in the form of the punk rocker girls, who brandish whips and display their wares in painted on denim.

Thugs will throw knives, barrels and dynamite sticks at you. Others will come bearing baseball bats. Score a knockdown with a punch, kick, head butt or flying kick, and procure the fallen weapon to help even the odds. To even them further, have a friend join in to help divert some of the violent attention from you. It doesn't get much better than having your pal lure a gargantuan green man while you sneakily bowl them both over with a boulder.

C'est tout.

Tragically, the bad news completely eclipses the faithful presentation; Double Dragon plays horridly (I hint at this in the score). While it's true that the name ''Double Dragon'' is pretty cool for a fighting game, perhaps a more appropriate demonstration of alliteration was in order for this particular installment. Like, 'Boys on Blades' for example.

Yes. What you didn't know was that Jimmy and Billy Lee strap on a pair of inline skates for this mission to save girlfriend Marion, as do their foes. And not just any blades - you won't find them donning those no-name Wal-Mart rip-offs. Those are just too clunky for our heroes. Instead, the badass brothers are modeling footwear equipped with the latest high-tech wheels and bearings for maximum velocity and minimal control.

In case you're wondering, that was a joke, meant to entertain. The horribly slippery control inherent in Technos' cart is also a joke, but it sucks every bit of entertainment value out of this arcade translation, save for a few minutes of kitsch that can be derived from watching your characters glide about recklessly, making figure eights, only stopping their perpetual motion when they run into an opponent's outstretched fist or foot.

Initially, all of this will seem like a terrible glitch, but when you realize it isn't, you'll wonder why the programmers couldn't just slow it down a bit, and tighten things up. Surely that wouldn't have been so much to ask?

Fortunately, the sound and music, like the graphics, are faithful to the original, which means they are rollicking at times, though often midi-driven and plodding as well. Sonically, Double Dragon is the same mixed bag it was in the arcade, and that will obviously please fans of the coin-op.

However, as a complete gaming experience, disappointment is the only available emotion available to you whether or not you're a fan of the franchise. In addition to the sloppy, slippery control, the game allows you to select a ton of lives and continues. This, of course, is necessary, as the game is virtually unplayable at any serious level. So the lives and continues required to facilitate gameplay also serve to make the game even more disposable.

Try the SMS version for a decent two-player romp, and the NES version for a slightly better looking, more challenging one-player mission. Better still, find yourself a copy of Double Dragon II for the NES to witness the best this series has to offer. Trying any of these ancient 8-bitters, followed by a go at Double Dragon for the 16-bit powered Genesis, will leave you with all sorts of unsettling feelings about how far we've come. Not recommended.

Rating: 3/10

Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (December 19, 2003)

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