Review by Godai-Kun
"The Legend Begins here.........."
ABSTRACT: While Double Dragon wasn't really the first beat-em-up in the world (that honor goes to Renegade or Kunio-kun in Japan), it was the first of it's kind to receive a huge amount of popularity outside Japan (Renegade was more popular in Japan than in the U.S). While I grew up playing the NES version of the series, the first Double Dragon game I played was the Arcade version. Double Dragon was made by a company called Technos Japan Corp., who also developed Renegade and several other games before and are famous in Japan for the Kunio-kun series. The U.S version in America was released by Taito. It's too bad that Tradewest (who owned the license in the U.S) ruined the franchise with Battletoads/Double Dragon and DD5 (who were also responsible for the crappy cartoon and movie). Let's get on with the review.
Story: The same kind of crap we heard since Donkey Kong. Billy and Jimmy Lee are twin brothers who are mastering the arts of the Sou-Setsu-Ken. One day, in front of the Lee Brothers' garage, their girlfriend, Marian, is kidnapped by the 'Black Warriors', a gang led by a machine-gun toting punk called Willy. So it's up to one or both brothers to rescue her. For some reason, Taito didn't like the name Billy and Jimmy, so they called our heroes Spike and Hammer. Most people believe that Spike and Hammer are the original names, but that's not really true, Billy and Jimmy are the names given by Technos.
Gameplay: There are three buttons in Double Dragon, Punch, Kick and Jump. Combining certain buttons and Joystick movement allows for extra attacks like jump kicks, back kicks, knee bash, throws and the infamous Elbow Smash. Your goal is to go through four missions (the City Slums, an Abandoned Factory, the Woods and the Enemy's HQ), beat everyone in your way, defeat Willy and save your girlfriend. Along the ways, you can steal weapons from your enemies like baseball bats, whips, drum oils, boxes, dynamites, knifes and stones.
The enemies consist of Williams and Roper, the generic thugs. Linda, the only female punk in the game, who doesn't have the ability to jump or climb in this game. Bolo and his mohawk brother, Abobo, who are reoccuring bosses that has the ability to throw you very far. Jeff, who is an evil palette-swapped version of Billy & Jimmy. And Willy, who can instatly kill you with his machine-gun. After beating the game with a 2nd-player, both of you get to fight each other to see who gets the girl.
THE GOOD: The gameplay of Double Dragon was very unique for it's time. The enemies were very smart. Their were several moves and weapons that could be use in the game. The 2-player co-operative mode and large stages added extra dimension. The graphics were well-drawn for it's time and the music by Technos' musician, Kazunaka Yamane, was awesome. The stages were full of challengine traps and obstacle.
THE BAD: While the game is very challenging, the Elbow Smash makes the whole game a cakewalk since the enemies easily fall for it. The game can get a bit repetive due to the lack of character designs besides the main five (Williams, Roper, Linda Abobo/Bolo and Jeff). The soundtrack is good in the title screen and the first two missions, but wears down after Mission 3 & 4. Other than that, there's not much to complain.
VERDICT: Double Dragon is a true classic on it's own and it's too bad there isn't an Arcade-perfect port of it and there won't be any. Double Dragon for the NES and SMS were average at best, Double Dragon for Game Boy was very good and every other version (including Accolade's overrated Genesis version) sucked. It's also a shame that the Arcade sequels to Double Dragon were not as good as their NES counterparts, especially part III. It's too bad that Acclaim and Tradewest ruined the series. Techns should had put more faith in their U.S subsdiary.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 08/01/00, Updated 08/01/00
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