Review by tollbooth

"Urban Furnace, Bloody Lips... Top Notch Stuff."

Before the home-gem revolution turned mall arcades into ghost towns. When kids snuggled up to Nintendos and kicked their tokens to the curb, Double Dragon spawned a genre.

Soon games like Final Fight and Bad Dudes came busting in. Rolling heads, breaking jaws, taking quarters jingle-jang. And they owed it all to Double Dragon.

A little history?

Even a craptacular movie cropped up out of this franchise. Remember 1994's movie house flop, starring two nobodies, Mark Dacascos and Scott Wolf? You think Uwe Boll is bad? IMDB rates cinema's DD in at a towering 3.4/10.

How many of us fans got sucked into that vacuum? Our sensible one and a half hours lost forever. Poor Mark and Scott taking last bows into obscurity. Cause and effect. Great game, poor movie… jobless actors. See them slinging coffee at your local Starbucks. If only the part had gone to Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Why God!? Why?

Not to mention game after game. You may have seen Double Dragon V floating around on the web, in your retro-arcade. We got Double Dragon Duece: The Revenge. And Double Dragon 3: The Rosetta Stone. Double Dragon IV, Double Dragon: Advanced, Double Dragon EX. Even those second cousins of the Ninja Turtles came around: for the Battletoads & Double Dragon team-up. These games got around, but none of them come close.

You had your ports. The NES took a crack at it. It was 8-bits shy of spectacular. And the MasterSystem did a little better. But not much. You even saw the port crop up on the 16-bit plates too. But they all fell short.

No. Not one of them stacked up to the majesty of the original. Famed, in my heart, for ever more. And I'm not the first.

Onward to the future, er, present.

We all know the tale. Billy's girlfriend gets sucker punched and drug off, caveman style. The garage door opens, the hotrod sings, and that music, that music we know so well, fills the void. Enter the brothers. Side by side, they hit the street, like gunslingers of the ancient west.

But our boys don't need to slap leather and pull iron. Their fists are deadly weapons, their feet, explosive.

Unlike the ports we've all known and loved, Double Dragon Arcade was not full of move-upgrades. You had your jump, you had the kick, you could lace them together in the air.

And when Obobo comes up from behind, press “jump/punch” in time, and Billy will throw a elbow that would drop a bus. Surrounded on all sides? No room for error, no time to string a combo together? Double tap forward… head-butt the mofo out. Leave them on the ground, bloody lips, quivering belly.

With the graphics hitting hard. Blowing the ports away. The NES left you wondering. What was that? A rock? A tree? And the MasterSystem was better, but no master of the arcade.

These graphics were top notch. The upper shelf. They had you leaving Space Invaders behind. Putting PacMan in his place. This was the first real time you got to bash a guy's head in. The Punk should've never messed with your girl. This'll teach him.

Pick up the bat, and take him yard. Reshape his jaw, one kick, two kick, and the bat. Look at him, broken, on the ground. And the ladies get in the action too. She comes at you, the first dominatrix I'd ever seen, throwing whips, tossing kicks. Don't fret about hitting the girls. This Broad, she's no lady. Hit her first, or get laid out. Pick up her whip. Make them pay. The Swine deserve it for doing the unthinkable. For taking your gal.

And get into the groove with music to beat it all. That opening screen, insert quarters to play, its tunes still send a shiver down my spine. It spoke of possibility. Of endless fun… until you ran out of change. I want that music at my funeral. Every song was epic. For this was a battle on the street, to the forest, in the mountains and hidden-fortress. It is no small task for a couple of brothers, forged like iron in the urban furnace.

It's laughable to hear the port adaptations. Whoa, is the Nintendo off key. Man, has Sega blown it all. After hearing those arcade bars, it's like the sitting in with the London Symphony, compared to those other bums, playing buckets in their garage.

Why did they do? Why did they mess? Who knows? This is no time for questions. It is time for action. From the moment you step outside, you are on the attack. There is no button for defense. There is only time to move forward, to attack, relentlessly, grabbing heads, kneeing jaws, throwing the swine off of cliffs. If you don't do it, you will have lost her forever. She will be shipped to China, caged like a dog, dying young.

The street thugs you meet are tough as nails. This arcade business was different than at home. At home, they gave you a chance. They gave you upgrades and life-bars and continues unending. In the arcades, they wanted your money. So they made it tough. The common swine come at you hard. And sometimes, most times, it is not possible to dodge. You are just going to get hit.

Think the gutter trash is rough? Come meet the bosses. Obobo, in all colors, black, white, green. Hulk Obobo will put your lights out. He'll make you eat dirt. He'll take your quarters like the laundry machine. Get past him, and your roughed up by two Obobos at once. That's nothing. Try it surrounded by thugs, with spears shooting from the wall, and big bad Obobo and his brother bearing down. Life steps to the edge. Your blood runs hot. Your eyes clench, fingers become deft with precision. It must be. If it's anything less. You are done. Cooked, like Grandma's meatloaf.

You want a real challenge? You tired of Halo and how easy it is? Get a buddy, round up some change, and make a run at Double Dragon. You will know what skill is. You will know the frustration of getting blasted in the jaw. And with your fingers, defenseless to stop it, sinking more quarters into the slot.

Sadly, finding a machine is a dead end. The last one I saw was seven years ago, in a Movie Theatre long gone. That was before this week. I was lucky. Stumbled onto a machine in a laundry mat. I'd love for this old classic to be ported into today. But for some reason it sits. They keep cranking out inferior fighters. They keep making terrible movies and sequels. But nothing even compares. Break out the nostalgia. Write your congressman. Tell them to put healthcare on hold.

We need fresh ports of old games. Double Dragon is first in line. I can still remember the kids lined up, watching the older kids bust up the swine. Double Dragon is a treasure you should not miss. I don't care what you do to find it, to play it. Just get it done. Give it a run. Billy needs you. His girl needs you…

… the past needs you.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 04/06/06


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