Review by King Atari
"The original beat-'em-up has yet to be topped"
Introduction- People often forget that the tournament fighters of today were inspired by the side scrolling beat-'em-ups of yesterday, and while Kung-Fu Master and Renegade may have paved the way, Double Dragon was the one set that the blueprint for all others to follow. As one of the first of it's type, it did almost everything right.
Gameplay (9/10)- Butt kicking, in more ways than one. This is simply said the best beat-'em-up ever. It avoided the linear style of later games such as Final Fight and Streets of Rage (both of which were good, but repetitive after awhile). It also avoids the tendency to overwhelm you with so many enemies that it's impossible to beat it with only a few coins (something Final Fight suffered from the most). Yes, there are a lot of enemies coming at you, but you can often clear a bunch while focusing on one using your arsenal of deadly (but really cool) moves. Of course there's your standard punch/kick/jump kick, but you also had the head-butt, knee smash, and the almighty elbow smash. This game definitely has what it takes in the gameplay department. The only fault here is that it tends to slow down when there's too many sprites on screen (which to be honest often comes as a bit of a relief).
Story (8/10)- The story isn't all that original nowadays, and had been done before even then, but you have to admit, there's nothing cooler than beating in the head of every bad guy that comes at you to save your girlfriend. The plot concerns Bill Lee's girlfriend, Marian, who has been captured by Willy, leader of the Black Warriors, in an effort to lure you to his hideout and your death, as you're the last resistance to his gang in New York (did I mention this occurs after a nuclear war? I should have). Your twin brother, Jimmy Lee, tags along (at least in 2-player mode) to help you save Marian, too. Of course, he's got his own reasons, and you'll fight him at the end because of said reasons.
Graphics (9/10)- The graphics are nice and bright, and very detailed. They have a cartoony look to them, but it's not bad. The levels are filled with little touches that add to the charm of the game. Wanted posters, trash cans, it all adds to the grimy feel of the levels, making you want to kick butt even more. The character sprites are well detailed as well, especially the hulking Abobo, who towers over everyone.
Sound (10/10)- Ah yes, some of the best music ever heard in a game. The only tracks that don't hold it's own against the others is Mission 3's and the end tune. Title screen, and Missions 1,2, and 4 all sound great, especially Mission 1's. I swear, these rival even the classic Super Mario Bros. theme. You WILL be humming these the rest of the day. Even Mission 3 and end tune are good, just not great.
Replayability (10/10)- Oh yes, you'll want to play this again and again, until you get as good as you can get (I can beat this game without losing a credit. Yes, I've played it a lot). Once you learn the patterns of the enemies, the replayability diminishes slightly, but not enough to make you want to give up the game all together. As previously mentioned, this game isn't linear like Final Fight. There are things to climb, weapons and things to pick up and throw (which there was in Final Fight as well, but done better here), and pitfalls that could take you out of the game quick. The slowdown can get annoying, but does give you a chance to notice these things.
Final Recommendation- If possible, buy an actual machine, it will surely spice up a party or game room. If that's a little expensive (why must these things be so popular?!), then there's three worthwhile console ports: The NES version, which is tampered with greatly, but no less a blast to play, the SMS version, which follows the arcade quite well, but is on the difficult side, and the Genesis version, which looks nearly identical to arcade. Just be sure to avoid the various dismal PC ports, and the pathetic Atari 7800 version (which should have been better).
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 08/09/03
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