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Double Dragon Review

About.com Rating 3 Star Rating

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Double Dragon

Double Dragon for Game Boy

Image © Technos
Radical, dudes!! Wayforward’s Double Dragon Neon is a garish and constantly-hilarious tribute to Double Dragon, a franchise that wielded as much power and brand recognition as Super Mario through the ‘80s and early ‘90s. Granted, some of the series’ fans will point out that the over-the-top presentation in Double Dragon Neon demonstrates just how far the once-regal franchise has fallen. Are you an oldschool gamer that feels the same way? Or are you a newly-baptized beat-em-up fan that’s interested in Neon’s roots? Then you might want to download the old Double Dragon Game Boy game from the Nintendo 3DS eShop.

Developer: Technos Japan
Publisher: Technos Japan
Genre: Action/Beat-em-Up
ESRB Rating: E10+
Compatible With: Nintendo 3DS
Price: $4.50 USD

GOOD: An iconic beat-em-up game in a tiny package. Great soundtrack.

BAD: Some players might find it too difficult or too repetitive. No simultaneous two-player action.

THE BASICS: The Solitary Dragon Brother

Double Dragon for the Game Boy is a portable adaptation of the original classic brawler. It seems like the arcade version of Double Dragon was ported to every console available on planet earth at the time, so a Game Boy adaptation is no surprise.

Granted, it’s an easy port because Double Dragon is such a simple game to follow and play. You trudge from the left side of the screen to the right as Billy Lee, a street-smart former dojo owner whose girlfriend, Marian, is kidnapped by the Black Warriors. Billy needs to punch and kick his way through waves of thugs (and the occasional monstrous boss) until he works his way out of the city, through the forest, and into the lair of the Shadow Boss.

GAMEPLAY: Crunch, Crunch, Kick, Crunch, Oof

The most important thing you need to know about Double Dragon is that the “A” button is your punch. The “B” button, meanwhile, is your kick. You can press both at the same time for a flying kick. You can also implement the Nintendo 3DS’s cross-pad to add extra oomph to your attacks by way of elbow smashes and throws. You can also nab weapons off enemies—whips, clubs, rocks, and the like—and use them to gain the upper hand.

Theoretically, Double Dragon is a pretty short game. There are only a handful of levels to work your way through until you hit the Shadow Boss. You’re probably not going to blow through those levels, though, since Double Dragon is old-school tough. While most of the thugs go down after a few hits (and they repeat often, so you don’t have to change up your strategy), mid- and- end-level bosses will rearrange your face over and over, particularly the hulking Abobo. When you die, you’re bumped back to the beginning of the level. And when you run out of continues, you’re sent back to the start of the game. Ouch. If you’re not a fan of games that are “Nintendo hard” and you’re just not into nostalgia or gaming history, Double Dragon is more likely to frustrate you than thrill you.

GRAPHICS AND SOUND: Retro

Double Dragon’s bulky marshmallow-muscled characters are a real blast from the past, and they still look pretty good—if you’re a fan of retro sprite-based graphics, of course. The game’s chiptunes also hold up well and received a perfect Game Boy translation. It’s been over 20 years since the game originally hit the Game Boy, and that title screen music still rocks.

CONCLUSION: Dragons Entwined

Double Dragon for the Game Boy isn’t the most faithful translation of the original arcade game (there’s no simultaneous two-player option), but it’s still a tight beat-em-up with some decent visuals and acoustics. However, series non-fans might find the game too short, too frustrating, and/or too repetitive. If you’re into collecting bits of game history, however—especially action game history—then Double Dragon is a must-download.
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