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November 21 2017

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Double Dragon

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  Rage of the Dragons - ©Evoga/Playmore 2002





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Game Stats
Other:
Players:
1 or 2 player

Type:
Tag-Team Beat 'em Up

Size:
564 Megs
Japanese Name:

Rage of the Dragons

Released On:

Home/MVS




Reviewed By:
Top Reviews By This Author:
- The King Of Fighters: Maximum Impact (PS2)
- Art Of Fighting (Neo Geo)
- King of Fighters 2002 (Neo Geo)
- Metal Slug 5 (Neo Geo)
- Ninja Masters (Neo Geo)
- Matrimelee (Neo Geo)
- Neo Geo Fighter Stick For PS2 (Hardware)


Other Opinions - More Reviews On NG4L:
Review 2 - by Raiken


Review Introduction:

Rage of the Dragons is a tag team beat 'em up made by Evoga. This is a semi-sequel to the Double Dragon one on one fighter that appeared on the Neo Geo back in 1995. It was developed as a sequel to the original Neo Geo game, but it does not contain any characters or designs from that game (it is not licensed as a Double Dragon game either... apparently Technos would not give Evoga the license for it) - for more information, you should check out this link (interview with the creators).

Behind its claim to the Double Dragon heritage, Rage of the Dragons is pretty much a totally new game, with a brand new game engine. In recent years we haven't seen many original games on the Neo Geo - in fact, almost all have been sequels, such as Metal Slug or The King of Fighters etc. This gives Rage of the Dragons a special appeal - although it may be "just another fighting game", at least it is a little different than what we are used to.

RotD can initially be quite a frustrating game to play. It places a large emphasis on juggle combos and keeping your opponent in the air as much as possible. The CPU does like to remind you of this fact on a regular basis, even on the lowest difficulty setting, which means you may get quite mad with it early on. Patience is rewarded however, and once you have started to get a feeling for the game you will fare a lot better (and have less chance of throwing your Neo's stick/pad against a wall :)



Game System:

Here is a brief explanation of the basic game mechanics:

KO's:
When one fighter is knocked out, the game pauses and the remaining character from the team jumps in. To win a match you must defeat both opponents, not just one.

Power Stocks:
Your super meter charges up when you are hit or take hits (nothing new there eh? ;). Once it is full you will gain one power stock, which can be used for a super attack or a team duplex move (see below).

Tag:
You can tag your partner in during a fight by pressing B + C. To stop you from constantly tagging in/out, this can only be done when your "team meter" is full, although this recharges very quickly.

Avoid:
Pressing A + B lets you sidestep attacks, while pressing A + B + Forwards/Back will make you roll in that direction.

Wall Combos:
Similar to the "wire attack" in games like KOF 2001 and Waku Waku 7, however the opponent does not bounce off the walls like in those games. If an opponent hits the side of the screen they stick there for a second, allowing you to run up and juggle combo them. Most stages also have items in the corner that you can juggle someone up against (like barrels), although these break after a few hits.

Super Moves:

KO

Each character has a super move that can be used when they have at least one power stock. This is similar to Garou: Mark of the Wolves, because if you perform this with weak punch/kick it will take up one power stock and do quite a lot of damage, but if you do it with hard punch/kick it will take up two power stocks and be a lot more powerful!

First Impact:

First Impact

Pressing C + D makes you hit your opponent into the air... if you connect, the screen will go red and you will have a small amount of time to hit your opponent with a set combo (which appears at the bottom of the screen). The exact button presses differ depending on the character you are playing as.

Team Duplex:

Team Duplex

This is a team combo - press hcf (back, down back, down, down toward, toward) and then B + C. Your character will run at their opponent... if they connect they will launch into a big combo and then your tag partner will run in (giving you the chance to start up another combo with them if you time it right). This can only be done when both characters are still alive and the team meter is fully charged. You will also need at least 2 power stocks. This move will also be different if you select certain tag teams (each character has one special partner).

Surrender a fighter:

By pressing A+B+C+D together you can surrender your current fighter and give their remaining life/power stocks to their partner. To do this, both characters must be alive and your team meter should be full. This can be helpful if your favourite character is low on health and you think that you would do better with just them in the fight.


Characters:

Select Screen 2

15 selectable characters (counting the sub boss if you input a code):

Billy, Lynn, Radel, Annie, Pepe, Pupa, Alice, Elias, Jones, Kang, Sonia, Jimmy

Abubo (sub-boss, playable with the use of a code).

Johann (final boss, not playable).


Graphics:

Hopes were high that RotD would be a game to rival Garou: MotW in the graphical department. Although it does come close in some aspects, unfortunately it has not turned out as polished as it could have been. The first thing that you will notice is that the animation is probably a couple of steps down from Garou - it is still better than a lot of Neo Geo fighters though, and certainly less choppy than most of the characters in KOF.

The actual character design in this game is very good however, and the artwork and presentation is (mostly) top notch. The intro for the game is very nice and shows off some of the artwork - the artist for this game is obviously talented. The in game sprites do look good, although the slight lack of animation does hurt them a bit. I'm not too sure about the character Kang either, a wrestler who looks very weird. The same goes for his tag partner Jones as well, who looks a bit like Tiger from Tekken (with a huge afro), but wearing a yellow Bruce Lee style jump suit (see Game of Death). The rest of the characters are all very well done though, if a little cliched.

The background graphics are a bit of a mixed bag really. Some of the stages are very vivid and colourful and have a lot going on in them, where as others are very drab and quite boring really. Pepe/Pupa and Billy/Lynn's stages are ones that stick out in my mind as being some of the best, while Jones/Kang and Oni/Cassandra's stages do seem a little plain and uninteresting. See the pictures and text below for more information on the stages.

There are many positive things to say about Rage of the Dragons graphics. The use of some nice special effects (especially when you finish someone off with a super move), some good character design and a few nice stages make it one of the better looking games we have seen on the Neo Geo in a while. However, I do feel that if they spent a little more time on the game it could have looked a lot better. As it is, RotD is definitely acceptable and very easy on the eyes, but still feels like it is lacking the flair of other games like Garou: MotW, or even a few of the older Neo Geo fighters.


Sound effects & Music:

The sound effects and music in RotD are of quite a high standard. In fact, I would go as far as to say that one or two of the tunes rank alongside some of my favourites on the Neo Geo (although there are a few that aren't quite so memorable). The only real problem that I have with the music tracks is that they are all just big pre-recorded samples that are being played back... which means that coming from the Neo's tiny sound processor, it sounds a little bit muffled and a bit too powerful compared to other games (you'll know what I mean when you hear it). This is the only way that they could get this kind of music to work on the Neo Geo cart system, but it would definitely sound better if it was ported to a CD based system, and was in true CD quality... or perhaps I am just being too fussy :) Either way, the music is very nice.

The sound effects and in game speech are what you would expect from a Neo fighter. The hit sounds are all convincing enough, and the voice acting for all the characters is good. There isn't really much I can say about this area of the game though as it isn't anything new... at the end of the day it is just what you would expect for a beat 'em up :)


Stages:

There are a total of nine stages in Rage of the Dragons - one for each of the seven tag-teams, and one for each of the two bosses. Here is a list of them with a brief description:

Jones/Kang's Stage



A very boring looking stage set inside a wrestling ring. It is quite drab and doesn't have much going on at all, although it does feature some of the most funky music in the game... it's cheesy as hell, but very catchy at the same time :)

Pepe/Pupa's Stage



Pepe/Pupas stage is definitely one of the nicer looking ones in the game - it is very colourful and has quite a lot of detail. The music here is quite laid back guitar stuff... it isn't the sort of music that will get your pulse racing, but it suits the stage well.

Elias/Alice's Stage



Set inside a Cathedral (I think), this isn't the most interesting place to fight in RotD. However, it does feature some great music, with a particularly cool guitar solo near the end of the track.

Oni/Cassandra's Stage



Like a few of the other stages in the game, this place isn't very interesting, but it does serve as a good enough place to beat the hell out of someone - especially as this stage has one of the best bits of music in the game (in my humble opinion anyway). It's quite heavy and really gets you in the mood for fighting!

Jimmy/Sonia Stage



This is one of the better looking stages in the game as there is a lot more going on in the background than there is on certain others (eg: Oni/Cassandras stage). The music is very cheesy, but it kind of grows on you after a while :)

Radel/Annie's Stage



Radel/Annie's stage is set inside some kind of bar/club and looks quite nice, although it does seem a little bit dark. One thing that I noticed and thought was very cheap is that the people standing in the far left and right hand corners are mirrored on each side; this shows a bit of lazyness on Evoga's part, I guess they just couldn't be bothered to draw a few more sprites. It does have some cool techno music though, which sounds a lot different to most of the other music in the game, but does suit this stage perfectly.

Billy/Lynn's Stage



This is easily the best stage in the game. It is set in a courtyard and looks extremely good (and well detailed), and also features my favourite music track. It has a very catchy beat and it is one piece of music that will definitely stick in your head for a while.

Abubo's Stage



OK - this is where you get to fight the first of Rage of the Dragons two annoyingly cheap bosses (more on this later). Set in what looks like an abandoned underground rail station, it isn't the most colourful stage but it still looks decent. The music is pretty good, although it is typical game boss style music... you'll probably have forgotten what it sounds like by the time you finish playing on the game anyway.

Johann's Stage



This is a place that you will get to see a lot of during your time playing Rage of the Dragons, and you will probably hate it after a while. It is a nice enough stage (maybe a little bland though) and has some decent music, but you will get stuck here quite often while trying to beat Johann, the final boss.




Overall:

Rage of the Dragons is a hard game to judge, because it shines in some areas, but then falls down flat in others. It is frustrating to play when you first start out, but once you get past the first hour or so of gameplay and you start to get used to the controls and basic gameplay mechanics, you will start to enjoy it a lot more. It is a very satisfying experience when you first learn some good combos, and the correct use of the Team Duplex move... you can do some flashy looking stuff when you know how. The two player mode is also a great deal of fun and is probably the area where you will want to spend most of your time if possible (like most fighting games).

Unfortunately a lot of the positive aspects of RotD are spoilt by some bad mistakes that Evoga have made. The games sub-boss (Abubo) and main boss (Johann) are very annoying for a start. They're both extremely cheap and will not hesitate to keep hitting you with the same energy sapping juggle combos again and again. Abubo can be beaten with a little perseverance, but Johann is a different matter. He is beatable when you know how, but like many bosses on Neo Geo games you will have to resort to using the same cheap tactics to win. This is a trap that many beat 'em ups fall into - personally I would prefer a challenging boss that fought fairly, instead of one where you have to use the same set pattern to win 99% of the time.

Another bad thing is the slight lack of moves for each individual character. Most have about 3 specials, and only one super move. Even when you add in the Team Duplex and First Impact moves etc, it does seem like the characters are a bit limited. The gameplay doesn't seem as deep as certain other games either, especially if you come to this game right after playing something like KOF or Last Blade. RotD isn't a game you will master within a couple of days, but it won't hold your interest for quite as long as the aforementioned games.

The final negative aspect of the game that I will mention is the practice mode in the Neo Geo home cart version - it's unbelievable how rushed this area of the game feels! In this day and age we expect a practice mode where you can program your sparring partner so that you can practice your moves and combos without interference... but RotD doen't offer that at all. In this practice mode you can merely choose your characters and opponents as well as the stage that you fight on, and that's about it. The opponent you face is not static either and will fight back just like in the normal one player game, which means this mode is basically useless... you would probably be better off putting the game in two player vs when you want to practice!



Final Judgement:

If you can learn to live with the games flaws, Rage of the Dragons is still a very competent game, albeit one that is not as instantly appealing as some of the other fighters that grace our beloved Neo. A lot of fun can be had in the two player vs mode, it's just a shame that the one player experience is not as good as it could have been. Having said that, Evoga don't exactly have a huge amount of experience with fighting games, so it is still a good effort. If they ever make a sequel to this game, the main things they would need to fix are:

1) The terrible practice mode
2) Cheap bosses
3) Some lack of variety in moves/combos
4) A bit more polish in the graphics (eg: animation/some backgrounds)

These are the main issues that I have with the game - if they can fix those things and add some more characters and other new features into the game, then Evoga would definitely be onto a winner with this series. As it is, this game will probably not be considered a "Neo classic" in the years to come, but it can still be very enjoyable. With any luck we will see a much improved sequel in the future.

The most important aspect of any game (especially a Neo Geo game) is whether or not it is enough fun to warrant spending the cash on... in this case I think it *is* worth adding to your collection, but I would definitely urge people to "try before you buy".


Graphics: 8/10
Sound: 8.5/10
Game play: 7/10
Replay Value: 6.5/10

Overall Rating: 7.5/10



Outside Links:
Related Reviews:

Reviews @ Neo-Geo.com:


Review by Kensou

Above links open in a new window.
Double Dragon

Good old school style beat 'em up.


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