A movie based on a video game gets a video game based on the movie.
Double Dragon is widely known as the popular beat-up series that first debut back in the arcades in the late eighties. The series became so admired it even got the attention of companies in America. At one point, it had an American animated series that got it own video game to less then stellar results. Then come what many fans dread to hear about any of their beloved franchises.
“Hey, guys. The fellows in Hollywood are making a live action movie for it.”
In 1994, Double Dragon the movie was release and if you know your video game to live movie adaptation history, it sucks harder than your high school’s resident slut. In what many would deem an even worse move, a video game was made based on the film. So here we are with a Double Dragon game appearing on the famed Neo-Geo console called Double Dragon. Can Billy and Jimmy Lee fight their out of this predicament?
When starting the game, you will notice a full motion video of clips from the Double Dragon movie. Sure it is a grainy small screen and you can only see it fine up close, but at least you know the system can manage to perform that. You got to give credit where it is needed. When that is done, you are treated to a montage of all the fighters featured in the game doing their ultimate attacks on their foes. I think it is a good way of getting players excited.
The artwork portraits are pleasant and thankfully, none of them look like their real life movie counterpart. The fighters sprites are proportion well and their animation are pleasing to the eye. I was kind of disappointed that Billy and Jimmy, as we know they are twins, have similar specials/designs to Street Fighter’s Ryu and Ken, but after playing the whole game through, you kind of forget about it. Besides, I enjoy their dragon ball rush attack and their exclusive assaults in “Charge” mode.
The stages are nicely thought out, which will include a special introduction sequence for the designated fighter whose stage it is. There are even some good plan spots in those environments. For example, when fighting Abobo in his zone, hit the middle ceiling and a subway train will come crashing down. Other times, you can knock over a flaming lamp post and have it burn over onto the stage. My favorite is when fighting Amon and the aftermath of losing the entire battle on his stage. I got to say that it is pretty awesome and funny at the same time. Even two player battles are done different to before match. Both fighters jump in and trade strikes in the air before the round starts. Neat!
The battle scheme is not only unique, but very easy to follow. Your energy bar doubles as your super charge station as well. The way it work is that every attack that hits your opponent, clean or blocked, your super meter will add up inside. Once it fills up, it will say “Charge”, making your specials more powerful. It will stay like that until you perform a super move, than it will empty and start over from scratch. The lower your life, the faster you can max out your charge. This is an amazingly creative way of preventing people from constantly doing super after super. The computer is pretty average and can maintain a well balance scuffle. Sometimes, you make it pass two of them or maybe five before hitting a brick wall enemy. From there, you got to step up your game if you want to finish.
The controls are tight and alert. The button layout is also reactive and assign by strength. Like every fighting game, each person has their list of specials and supers. The commands are very straight-forward, so there is no way you can mess up on any of them. Due to the fact their really is no “punch, kick” sections, all the specials can use any of the buttons to perform the maneuver desired. The game even shows you how some of the attacks are done when selecting a player, which is excellent.
My only gripe is when doing supers, where you need to execute one of the regular special moves pressing two buttons. You will find yourself getting everything right until you have to press two buttons at once and can really throw your timing off. Even trying to act upon Billy’s and Jimmy’s special charge mode, by pressing all four buttons at once, can be a chore. The double jumping is going to be one the most important parts to use in battle. However, because of things like these, you can avoid almost anything thrown at you and that is no fun, unless you try testing your movement against Dulton’s quadruple projectile.
Voice acting in the Double Dragon is average and even in amount of praise and criticism. The vocal tones of every fighter are put together fine and gives a needed hint of charisma to each personality. The announcer voice has the same disease in many video games voices where they say every name like they just got to the end of a sentence. The sound effects are very random in terms of quality. Most of them fit while most of them fizzle. The blocking sounds like sliding doors going back into place and the hard attack contacts can be mistaken be soft wood clanking together.
Musically, the game is right on the borderline. The tunes are likable, but are a little cheesy in the sense of the competition’s setting. Majority of the stages click well with their music and a few of them are somewhat mismatch. The theme song of Double Dragon also appears when Billy or Jimmy calls out for their more powerful versions. If you get sick of hearing it over and over, you might want to stay away from going up the next level.
Replay Value: 7/10
The game has ten fighters with some details based from the movie and others based from earlier Double Dragon games, with some original creations on the side. Good thing most of the traits taken were more good then bad. I do not think anyone wanted to see Mariam having Alyssa Milano’s white tomboy rebel haircut from the movie, right? The fact is most of these guys are quite interesting and all have vast amounts of usefulness in their own right. Fellow fighters like Cheng-Fu, Barnov, Eddie, Rebecca, and Abobo are quite a cast and enjoyable.
The game is best played in moderation as too much can kill your buzz towards it. I would also consider this game a great suggestion to newer fans of fighting games who want to start out with something simple to understand. The mechanics are trouble-free and the challenge in there for people of various skills levels.
I consider this edition of Double Dragon one of the most underrated fighting games in Neo-Geo’s library. This is one of the few times a game’s take on their crappy movie is the better product of the two. You can thank the fact Technos played it smart and try to not associate most of the motion picture had to offer as best they could. They incorporated some designs not seen from the film and turned out a respectable game. There really is no love/hate towards this if you really look into it. It is on middle ground and in conclusion, this Double Dragon (The game in review) is way more entertaining then that Double Dragon (The live action movie) and that is a huge thing to reflect on.
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