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Double Dragon (NES) artwork

Double Dragon (NES) review


"“Double Dragon” is a fair brawler. For one of the earliest entries in this genre, that’s not bad. Compared to the execrable arcade version, it fairs even better. But put it next to a game like “Mighty Final Fight” or “Ninja Turtles III,” and “Dragon” demonstrates some wear. It’s not as technically competent as the former or as inventive as the latter. Such is often the condition of being “first.” A game like this can start a genre, but it’s one thing to do that and another to remain relevant as ..."



“Double Dragon” is a fair brawler. For one of the earliest entries in this genre, that’s not bad. Compared to the execrable arcade version, it fairs even better. But put it next to a game like “Mighty Final Fight” or “Ninja Turtles III,” and “Dragon” demonstrates some wear. It’s not as technically competent as the former or as inventive as the latter. Such is often the condition of being “first.” A game like this can start a genre, but it’s one thing to do that and another to remain relevant as that genre matures.

But maybe my focus is too broad. Observed within a vacuum, “Double Dragon” is kind of fun. You walk around and beat up thugs. One button is for punches, the other for kicks. How do you jump? Push “punch” and “kick” at the same time. Compared to the leaner controls of a “Final Fight” or “Streets of Rage,” this is clunky. There’s a neat “experience” system, though. Each blow you land tallies up points, which eventually “level” you up like some sort of RPG warrior. There are seven levels to gain in total, and each one brings a subtle improvement to your combat ability.

Compared to those androids from the “Ninja Turtle” games or the outrageous punks from “Streets of Rage,” the bad guys here are pretty mundane. Actually, most of them border on indescript. There’s Thug #1, Thug #2, Spandex Chick, Kung-Fu Guy, Black Dude, Big Guy, etc. etc. Like I said, not very note-worthy. Some thugs drop whips or baseball bats, which are fun to swing around and inflict lots of pain on their targets. There are four missions, of which I have seen three. The first one is on an urban street, the second one is in some industrial place, and the third takes place in some kind of wilderness. I know, I know. Compared to a floating Manhattan or a disco club, these settings are pretty tame. Like I said, there is a downside to being “first.” However, there’s at least one neat moment when you’re fighting a big guy on a conveyor belt and trying to use it to lure him onto a steep drop. That was kind of cool.

That about covers it. You beat up lots of guys, there’s city streets and forests, a conveyor belt, toughies breaking through walls, whips and baseball bats, throwing knives, TNT, some girl gets kidnapped, experience levels--did I miss anything? Battles are tipped in favor of the enemy, which can effortlessly duck beneath your attacks. You have nothing to counter this. Enemies also seem to connect their punches more often than you do. But there’s only four missions, and you’re given three lives and an experience system. I think that somewhat balances things out, though not enough that I could care to finish the game. You might. Lots of people of have. This is the legendary “Double Dragon,” after all. It had the benefit of being first, and therefore all other brawlers--both the better and the worse--owe some sort of debt to it.

Rating: 7/10

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Community review by joseph_valencia (July 16, 2009)

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