Double Dragon

This game will drag on twice as long.

Review Date: March 29, 2021

Release Date: June 1, 1988

Platform: NES

Publisher: Taito, Tradewest

Genre: Beat ’em Up

Anecdotes: Short and sweet; that’s how we liked our games as kids. It also helps that we could beat up enemies, learn new moves, and occasionally pick up weapons. We had missions 1 and 2 down pat. We could get through those easily. We had no problem getting to mission 3, but then we ran into all sorts of problems. Until playing it for this review, I had never played any part of mission 4.

Description: Straight from the manual, page 4: Double Dragon is the story of Billy and Jimmy Lee, twin brothers who learned to fight on the cold, tough streets of the city. Their expert knowledge of the martial arts, combined with their street-smarts, has made them both formidable fighting machines.

I could have sworn I saw this move on SmackDown Friday night.

But now Billy is faced with his greatest challenge: his girlfriend, Marian, has been kidnapped by the Black Warriors, the savage street gang of the mysterious Shadow Boss! Using whatever weapons come to hand – knives, whips, bats, rocks, oil drums, even dynamite – Billy must pursue the gang through the slums, factories, and wooded outskirts of the city to reach the hideout for his final confrontation with the Shadow Boss…his brother Jimmy!

Positives: The game allows Billy to pick up any weapons an opponent drops, adding to the fun factor of the game. The game also has an unnamed system that allows Billy to use new abilities every 1,000 points. He can gain up to six levels that way. However, both of those systems are flawed, which I will get into next.

Negatives: The game had two great ideas going for it, yet they managed to flop them both. While it’s fun to whip Lindas and swing a baseball bat at Williams, the game will take those weapons away once Billy defeats them. Billy will have weapons taken right out of his hands.

As much fun as this is, that bat disappears when those guys are dead.

Back to the abilities system, it’s nice to get new abilities every 1,000 units, but the game never says what those abilities are. Players then have to go to the manual, and the manual lists the abilities, but they never mention when players will gain the ability. That leaves only two ways to figure it out. They can either consult a walkthrough, which we didn’t have in 1988, or button mash to see what happens. It shouldn’t require all that. Just tell us what we’ve earned.

The other thing I hate about this game is the control scheme. To be more specific, the jumping mechanic is awful. A and B have to be pressed together and jumps can’t be controlled in the air. It’s made worse that the game doesn’t give players any reason to jump at all in the first two missions, then the game suddenly puts a broken bridge in the way, followed by a moving platform jumping segment. I’m sure there was a better way they could have done jumping, or better yet, remove it entirely.

Billy just accidently walked into a platformer game.

Let’s say Billy falls off the screen there. He doesn’t die; he instead ends up looping back around to the start of the cave. Mission 3 has three of these, and nothing in the game indicates players can even enter the holes the Abobos left, let alone have it be required. How is anyone supposed to figure that out without help?

More Screenshots:

“Hi, Police? Yeah, I’d like to report a theft; someone stole my deluxe widgets from Grigr.”
There’s a Devo song that goes like this.
Nobody noticed this guy had a stick of dynamite on him?
There are two waterfalls here, but Billy will see them again when he inevitably misses the exit door of this area, then never see any of them again.
A swarm of Lindas have to be defeated before the door to finish the level opens.
These brick walls are complete BS. Bricks just pop out randomly and I’m not certain they can be avoided.

Final Opinion: It’s a decent concept ruined by terrible execution. The game doesn’t make things clear and it has clunky controls. It also takes weapons away illogically and offers NO system of continuation or even extra lives.

Grade: D

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